Candidate is king: Why better assessment practices are more important than ever

Candidate is king: Why better assessment practices are more important than ever

In our recent series of articles, we’ve explored the basics of gamification as well as some practical applications in the marketplace. In today’s article, let’s take a look at one of the possible reasons (other than available technology) why gamified and multimedia assessments have become such a popular topic of debate amongst IO Practitioners: Candidate experience.

Poor application processes can damage your organization

In recent surveys conducted by Aon as well as the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, potential employees’ experience of their application process showed wide-spread dissatisfaction. In general, roughly half of applicants reported having a “poor” or “very poor” experience in applying to a variety of potential employers.

The application process has an additional effect that many employers are perhaps unaware of. Around 40% of applicants who’ve had a poor experience in their recruitment process report that they will not want to buy or do business with that employer. Conversely, when applicants have positive experiences, 88% of them report being likely to purchase or switch to the products of such employers.

Of course, in a consumer setting that is dominated by peer-to-peer recommendations, combined with the power and ubiquity of social media, this relationship between application experience and market reputation can have wide-spread repercussions for employers’ business prosperity. Fully 64% of candidates report that they are very likely to share their experiences of potential employers on social media. In addition, and perhaps more worryingly, around 31% of candidates who’ve had negative experiences during recruitment report that they won’t re-apply at that organisation given the opportunity.

How to improve candidate experience: Are games the only answer?

Given the importance of candidate experience, it’s not surprising that the advent of gamified assessments has been seen by many recruiters as a godsend. If assessments form an important part of an employer’s screening and application process, then making them more enjoyable seems to be a very good strategy in improving candidate experience.

While data on the link between gamified assessments and positive candidate experience is still hard to find, initial investigations, point at least in some instances to favorable results for both mobile and gamified assessments.

But the picture is far more complex than first meets the eye. Let’s take a more careful look at the nuances of candidate experience. What are the critical factors to consider?

  • Knowing your candidate audience: When referring to candidate experience, contemporary thinking points to engagement with the assessment or selection process. In other words, it is seen as highly desirable for candidates to perceive the company’s selection process as fair, brand-positive, and engaging. Of course, whether candidates will have good experiences will depend, in part, on what kind of candidate we’re dealing with. For instance, young, Millennial job seekers who have been well socialized in the principles of gaming and multimedia may well respond well to highly gamified assessments that resemble the games that they know and love.

    But what of candidates from older generations? Or candidate populations who are not socialized in gaming principles? For such job-seekers, gamified assessments may actually have counterproductive effects, and may lower test motivation. Another risk may be that gamified assessments can be seen as overly frivolous or not in keeping with the gravity of the assessment’s purpose (e.g. senior selection).

  • More than just test motivation: While for some candidates gamified assessments may enhance their test motivation, it is not the only ingredient of a successful, positive candidate experience. For instance, candidates also want to feel fairly treated, to know that the assessments they complete are relevant to the jobs they applied for, and that the company’s brand meets their expectations of a potential employer.

    At best, gamified assessments can only partly fulfill these requirements. Indeed, if gamified assessments are too abstract or game-centric (think fighting dragons and popping balloons), it may detract from the perceived job-relevance of the selection process. If your organization’s brand identity is more formal or more traditional, relying on gamified assessments to deliver the appropriate candidate experience may not be the right way to go.

Next steps: Games and beyond

Taking into account our previous discussion, what is a more informed approach to take if we want to improve candidate experiences of selection?

It is clear that gamified assessments are only one part of the answer, and in some cases, may even be counter to achieving the wished-for outcome. In fact, knowing your audience, understanding the purpose of the selection, and being keenly aware of your organisation’s brand-promise will all aid in improving the candidate experience.

In our experience, the best kind of selection processes are well integrated with an organisation’s talent strategy, use assessments that get close to the job, and motivate candidates with brand-positive experiences. And while gamified assessments may well help with some of these goals, savvy IO Practitioners will need to go far beyond gamification to achieve all of them.

So, in conjunction with making assessments more relevant, more enjoyable and more brand-specific, IO Practitioners will have to find more innovative ways of reducing time-to-hire without sacrificing scientifically credible methods. In previous articles, for instance, we’ve discussed multimedia solutions like cut-e’s vidAssess platform, which allows for quick-turnaround video interviewing that will help improve selection efficiency.

Other technologies, such as rich media, virtual reality, and interactive chat-based SJTs like cut-e’s chatAssess (discussed previously in this post) can help candidates have more realistic experiences of the job they’ve applied for. In addition, hiring companies can use such applications to market their value proposition and brand promise to prospective employees.

In part, it certainly seems that for recruiting organisations to remain relevant, they will have to reflect carefully on their talent from initial talent search to final selection.

IO Practitioners will have to become more aware of how trends in the greater business world will impact their function and practice. In this regard, technological and analytical levers such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and big data analytics will no doubt have to feature highly on the priority list of innovative IO Practitioners.

Final thoughts

While gamified assessment hold much promise, especially when recruiting Millennial job seekers or when aligning selection processes with digital-savvy brands, the solution to improving candidate experience is likely more complex than just changing the type of assessments one uses.

In addition, the hoped-for experiential benefits of gamified assessments currently remain largely hypothetical, and more research is needed among local populations to see if such benefits manifest themselves, and if so, under what conditions.

Given our commitment to robust scientifically-credible assessment practices, TTS is actively pursuing such research and partnering with our clients to explore the landscape of gamified assessments in South Africa.

If you would like to know more about gamified assessments or how TTS can help you innovate your assessment processes, why not drop us a line at