Gamifying Candidate Recruiting is all the rage these days. This article is our attempt to add to that conversation.

Let’s face it: Getting a job means knowing how to play the game. Candidates who strategically play the process often end up with the job, even though they aren’t always the players who will excel at the job.

In this latest installment of our Future of Hiring series, we’ll explore how some companies are shaking up the recruiting game to snag better quality hires—by using actual games. I went mano-a-mano with Knack, a series of talent assessment apps powered by big data and predictive analytics.

Gaming for Assessment, founded by Israeli entrepreneur Guy Halfteck, blends talent analytics and gamification into a new kind of candidate assessment. Halfteck and his analytics crew are out to prove that the way a candidate plays a specially-designed game tells you a lot about that candidate’s skills.

After candidates play Knack’s games, they receive a list of their most prevalent skills, or knacks. They also learn about Powerknacks, which are particular skill combinations that are valuable in certain situations, and Superknacks, which are knack clusters demonstrating a particular career aptitude. The more games you play, the more Knack hones in on your true talents.

I played three Knack games available to consumers: Wasabi Waiter, Meta Maze, and Balloon Brigade. I received very few instructions at the start of each game, which led me to assume that both how I chose to play and what I perceived as the point of each game communicated a lot about my particular knacks.

  • Wasabi Waiter: I ran a virtual restaurant floor by taking orders, delivering food, and cleaning tables. Throughout the game, I read customers’ visual cues—and their individual happiness meters—with the goal of balancing efficient operation with keeping them satisfied.
  • Balloon Brigade: I defended my flowers and my water balloon-making contraption against an army of flaming imps.
  • Meta Maze: I constructed an increasingly hard-to-find path between a red and blue dot.

By the end of the three games, I registered a series of knacks, the top three of which were Independent Thinking, Empathy, and Staying Focused. In addition, I registered three Powerknacks: Ethics, Diplomacy, and Leadership. I had no Superknacks, which didn’t surprise me because I’ve never had an affinity for a deeply specialized vocation (e.g., Accounting, Engineering, or Sales).

Benefits of Gamifying Recruiting

After playing the games, my first thought was how much a tool like Knack improves the candidate experience. Instead of waiting for a phone interview or interviewing in front of an expressionless screening committee, candidates spend about 45 minutes playing mobile games. Whether I got the job or not, the feedback about knacks is something I can take into future job searches. It’s also asynchronous, meaning that candidates can complete the assessment whenever they want.

Another thing I like about Knack is the way it helps you see the bigger picture concerning your candidates. In my case, my interview answers might demonstrate a straightforward and analytical way of making assessments, but my Empathy knack would remind the interviewer that I know both when to speak bluntly and when to express myself with care.

It’s easy to see how gamification would appeal to candidates of the millennial generation, but I’ve seen others express concern that recruiting gamification might alienate older candidates. I’m about the same age as Star Wars, and I think anyone who can use a smartphone to play Fruit Ninja will have no issue playing Knack’s games. Don’t take my word for it—find out how Shell and NYU’s Department of Orthopedics are using Knack to improve their hiring practices.

By blending a better candidate experience with the power of talent analytics, the crew at Knack has created a win-win product. To get even more actionable tips on how to improve your candidate experience, check out our Candidate Experience Playbook.