What are game-based assessments?

March 9th, 2023
HireVue Team

Game-based assessments are gathering significant momentum as next- generation assessments and for good reason. Game-based assessments benefit both candidates and recruiters. For candidates, a game-based assessment tells them the company has put some time and effort into creating an assessment process that is quicker and fairer than traditional assessments. And they’re fun (which reduces test-taking anxiety)!

On the recruiting side of the table, a single job posting can generate hundreds or even thousands of applications. Recruiters need a tactic to winnow their candidate pool quickly and effectively. Game-based assessments utilize different styles and types of games designed to highlight a candidate’s skills, abilities, and potential for success in specific jobs. This article discusses the different types of game-based assessments and how a candidate should prepare for those assessments.

What are game-based assessments?

Game-based assessments offer a powerful, candidate-friendly alternative to traditional assessment testing, which can be tedious for candidates and laborious for recruiters to evaluate.

Game-based assessments are pre-hire assessments built as games to evaluate candidates’ skills in a quick and engaging experience. Candidates “play” different types of games that measure attributes required for success in the jobs they’re applying for. The assessments are game-like in nature as candidates move up and down levels and interact with a colorful array of options while they solve problems, take puzzles and quizzes, and answer text-based challenges that measure their skills and competencies. 

Advantages of game-based assessments include:

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    Mobile game-play: Recruiters reach candidates where they spend their time—on their phones. Gen Zers average a whopping 5.9 hours a day on their phones.

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    Familiar, engaging experience : Candidates prefer to engage on their phones more than any other device, and 70% play games on their phones.

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    Instant candidate feedback: At the end of a typical game-based assessment, candidates get automated, constructive performance feedback – further contributing to a candidate-centric hiring process.

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    Convenient interaction: Test-takers typically complete a game-based assessment via an app or website on their own time and at their own pace.

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    Candidates want them: 78% of candidates say that game-based assessments make the company more desirable to work for.

With 61 million digitally native people from Gen Z entering the workforce and spending so much time on their phones, recruiters cannot afford to ignore mobile technology.

Game-based assessments are flexible and can be administered on a standalone basis (through an enterprise portal) or via an ATS / HRIS (through API integration). In both cases, the experience is completed quickly, easy to use for candidates, and highly scalable for talent acquisition teams.

Why do companies use game-based assessments?

While resumes give a view into what candidates have done or past jobs they don’t accurately measure skills. Accurately assessing candidate skills and reliably predicting a job candidate’s potential is critical for an effective recruitment and selection process. In fact, the cognitive capacity and agility mindset of an organization’s workforce are core contributors to its competitiveness and innovation potential. And game-based assessments are AI-resistant. While nearly half of job seekers use ChatGPT in the hiring process, it is difficult to utilize it in active gameplay.

Consistently delivering high performance and productivity in knowledge-based jobs is about finding effective solutions to novel problems, dealing with changing, complex and/or ambiguous situations, and thinking clearly under pressure. Candidates can often compensate for their lack of relevant work experience through their willingness to learn; this is particularly true in today’s fast-evolving, tech-enabled environments.

Game-based assessments are perfectly suited for measuring these critical cognitive skills.

Gamers typically expend a high degree of cognitive resources whilst playing video and smartphone games, research has revealed. Thus, it is not surprising that games can be adapted to accurately and reliably measure cognitive abilities, as well as job-relevant personality traits. Also, their accuracy is similar (and increasingly higher!) when compared to longer and more repetitive text-based assessments.

Game-based assessments can accurately evaluate:

  • Fluid intelligence. Fluid intelligence is the ability to solve new problems and adapt to unfamiliar situations. In short, fluid intelligence predicts job performance better than any other ability, personality trait, or skill.
  • Working memory. Learning processes are underpinned by a specific component of fluid intelligence, which is working memory, or the ability to assimilate and manipulate new information. Learning and professional development potential is dependent upon the integration of new information and so-called crystallized (previously acquired) knowledge. Quickly forming these connections results in an increased ability to apply newly acquired methods or processes to different contexts or situations.
  • Problem-solving. Successful businesses require problem-solvers—people who can independently identify and systematically apply the most appropriate solutions to new and complex problems. Sticking with established ways of doing things is no longer sufficient in today’s increasingly competitive and dynamic landscape. Companies need to constantly adapt and produce innovation to stay in the game.
  • Creativity. Intelligence and creativity are intricately linked—individuals who can come up with multiple distinct, yet effective solutions to an unfamiliar problem. By hiring employees who can apply creativity and divergent thinking to organizational challenges, companies can gain and retain an important competitive advantage as these employees relish and thrive in uncertain and unpredictable environments.

What are the common game-based assessments?

The most common game-based assessments are used to assess cognitive ability, emotional intelligence, and personality. Multiple types of game-based assessments may evaluate the same trait or competencies, and the assessment may adapt in real-time based on performance to dynamically learn about the candidate.

A common example of a game to assess your work style and personality would show two photos and you select which is more like you. Is your desk busy or minimal? Do you prefer being surrounded by people or in your own space? By answering these types of questions, you can inform the assessment of your personality and work style.

Simulating real-life work examples is also common in game-based assessments. For a customer service role, there may be a game simulating a customer complaint, and presenting differing responses to achieve a resolution.

Cognitive ability assessments measure facets of general mental ability, like working memory or visuospatial ability, through activities that ask you to memorize letters and numbers or detect patterns in different images.

Other assessments include emotional intelligence to gauge how a candidate responds to and recognizes different emotions, how they empathize with others, and how they handle an emotionally charged situation.

How to prepare for game-based assessments?

There is no way to cheat or trick a game-based assessment, but you can prepare.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the technology. While you won’t have the opportunity to try out the game beforehand, taking your time to read the directions and get familiar with the game interface beforehand will help ensure you are focused on demonstrating the core competency you are being evaluated on, not understanding the game.
  2. Control your surroundings. Just like any other type of job assessment, it’s important you find a place where you’re able to focus, free from distractions. Ensure you have a strong internet connection and set aside at least 20 minutes so you don’t feel rushed.
  3. Understand the metrics. Make sure you understand what the game is measuring so you can proactively practice those skills prior to taking the test. This also includes understanding the scoring process.
  4. Do your research. Know the role you’re applying for. Obviously, the test is going to assess your ability to do the job.
  5. Expect the unexpected. Game-based assessments often test your flexibility and adaptability. 
    1. Use the recommended device. If the employer recommends using a desktop computer over a tablet or phone, there’s a reason. Take their advice.
    2. Answer honestly and keep going. While you should know what the game is assessing, don’t overthink it. High tolerance for risk may be desirable for one job but not another. And if you keep failing a game, keep going. You may be given easier questions next or be positively assessed for your willingness to keep trying.


    Are game-based assessments right for your hiring process? Read more about what sets game-based assessments apart.