Gamify your recruitment process for better results

Gamification is an innovative approach to engaging the right talent, and it works by encouraging these talents to engage in game-like behaviors and situations in non-game applications and scenarios. It will keep people (candidates) more engaged and make the whole recruitment process more fun, interesting, and creative.

It is the application of game elements and digital game design techniques to non-game problems, such as various business and social impact challenges. So, it is companies taking tasks and making them to be more like a game. The selection process will be less stressful and it also can encourage a competitive attitude between applicants.

Gamification processes are everywhere around us. Companies are using them to get more money from us, help us to be more engaged with their brand, and help them bring in more customers (referrals). Companies are trying to generate buzz on social sites and encourage customers to help them with that. Current customers are sharing referral links to get some extra space for their cloud storage, and the company is getting new customers.

And I am sure that in your wallet you have at least one card from a company that encourages you to use their loyalty card to get points from your shopping, and then exchange those points for rewards or a discount on your next purchase. Airlines and hotels are also have programs that give customers points for every dollar spent, plus you can get points for filling their surveys, etc.

When and why does it Work?

Gamification works when it motivates people to do something, so it’s essential to understand out of where our motivation to do something comes from.

Gamification works inside organization, for example you can get one hundred profiles on your advertisement, but even the best written CV is not a guarantee that the person will be the best possible performer for you. That’s why companies started implementing gamification into the hiring process. Screening procedures are replaced by a “game,” and this game will be testing the ability of candidates in performing certain tasks expected by the employer. Basically, if the company is looking for real problem solver, they can create a game with a list of tasks where candidates are going to be solving tasks from real life. So it won’t only be about the experience and knowledge that you have in your resume, but it will be about your real experience and how you are able to perform in real life.

And it’s working because everybody likes to play. 🙂

When and why does it not Work?

Gamification has huge potential, but most companies and agencies aren’t getting it right. They don’t understand how to create the whole process in a way that keeps people engaged for a longer time. Gamification is not just about creating some game, it’s about the creativity that will help you create something awesome that is going to engage candidates in real-time competitions or challenges to assess their skills beyond the resume.

Gamification of your process

Explain the process – Simply explain the whole process and rules, don’t kill the fun. A simple process is always better, as people will have a clearer understanding of where their efforts will take them.

Keep people engaged – People need rewards to move forward and they need to see their progression, so a progression/status bar best meet those needs. And it will also encourage competition between friends or let them create teams.

Be fun and Involve others – Sharing is caring, we are living in time full of social media, and everybody is sharing so use that as your advantage. People like to have fun, and if you have something that will cheer them up, they will share it so don’t forgot about that aspect.

Give rewards – Always reward your users/candidates, etc. When a company – for example, Dropbox – offers free storage just because you respond to their advertisement, then they also give you extra storage if some of your friends respond through a special referral link that you can share, their ATS will be soon overloaded. Yes, they will get lots of irrelevant profiles from people that are only trying to get free space, but if they know how to use this, they will find the right people easily and have a great pool of potential talent for the future. And this gamification process is applicable in almost every company.

Example of Gamification in Recruitment

British Intelligence

One great historical example of gamification is the Daily Telegraph’s crossword, which British Intelligence agents created along with Alan Turing, to help them recruit new code breakers from the public. On the 13th of January, 1942, the Daily Telegraph printed this crossword and everybody could try it, but they didn’t mention that it was for British Intelligence. Some of the contestants were contacted by the War Office and they were given a great opportunity to work in Bletchley Park for its code breaking division. And some of the greatest agents were recruited through this crossword puzzle.

American Army

The American Army created a game called “American Army,” to attract new recruits. Gamers, during the game, are learning basics about the military process and they are learning how to work as a team. The U.S. Army turned this game into a powerful recruiting tool.


LinkedIn is also using Gamification techniques. LinkedIn is using “Levels” to show you your progression during your profile compilation. The more information you share, the closer it will bring you to an “All-Star” badge. And the more you share, the higher the chances you have to be noticed by employers.

Google Code Jam

This is a great example of how you can screen developers based on their skills and not only by screening theirs resumes. This is a programming competition hosted and administered by Google, and it’s full of algorithmic puzzles divided into multiple online rounds. The top 26 finalists are invited to Google and they can compete for cash prizes and an opportunity to work at Google. Google will find some interesting people, plus they get low budget PR on the Internet.


Another absolutely perfect example of gamification recruitment is campaign, created by Goodby Silverstein. They started looking for a new assistant for Rich Silverstein, and on this website they added a few challenges and assignments for candidates. This helped them get a good pre-selection even before the candidates sent their CV and applied. This campaign became viral and it’s a really great example of how to attract new candidates through social media, and it’s also really funny. But I am pretty sure that the first challenge, “Be Organized,” should be renamed “Be Patient,” because I am not sure how many people are not going to close the browser during the first challenge. But their new assistant is probably really amazing. 🙂

Final Thoughts

Gamification is not only applicable for recruiting new people, it’s also a good technique that could be used for developing and motivating current employees.

Recruiters are not going to be replaced by computers soon because computers are not able to detect soft skills, but when your HR department embraces new techniques like gamification, it will help them create a bigger candidate pool and be more effective. Gamification on the rise!