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Gamification and Recruiting? Keep it Simple Yoshi!

Posted by Samara Parker
January 14th, 2013

Today we're going to talk about how to improve the process of hiring through gamification. Before reading any further, I suggest you gather your team and engage in some research and skill-building — namely by battling each other at Mario Kart. This will get everyone excited about gamification. It will also make you the office favorite. At least until someone brings in a really tasty batch of cupcakes.

So, what can we learn from Mario?

Simply put, make it fun. Injecting some levity into the recruiting process is more important than you may have been led to believe  The reason gamification works so well for training is because it makes training more enjoyable, like... you guessed it, games! This works for the recruitment process as well, if you don't believe me go play some Plantville.

The hiring process is stressful for candidates. Many people avoid it like chopped liver. They would rather stay at a job they hate than hand out resumes, and go for interviews. Me, I love the stuff, but for my liver -hating husband, I serve it covered in bacon and onions — works every-time. A sure-fire way to increase candidate engagement is to cover it in bacon gamify it!

You probably want an example, huh? Well, you are in luck. With their new Facebook app, the Marriot Hotel chain has strategically changed the way in which they discover and hire candidates. Even those simply playing around on the internet, not looking for a new job at all, may find themselves in the running for an awesome new job. Playing My Marriott Hotel doesn't feel like a job-hunt, it feels like just another game of Farmville.

And gamified recruitment is not only for big business. It can be be simplified and applied smartly by smaller companies as well.

A simple quiz, if well-worded and challenging, can engage potential candidates, and even encourage social sharing. The UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) used an online puzzle to recruit hackers. Isn't that far more exciting than a regular listing? Upon completion of GCHQ's puzzle, those who do reasonably well are invited to apply for a job. The quiz not only tests the skill-set of potential talent, but also makes candidates feel special for having been "selected".

For recruiters and employers working in less secretive fields, you can also encourage those who have taken your quiz to share their results on Facebook and Twitter. This can increase the amount of potential talent that see your quiz, as well as boost your brand visibility.

So, what have we learned? Firstly, grow a mustache and purchase some brightly colored over-alls. Next, make candidates laugh. Thirdly, don't take it all so seriously. Trends come and go, and gamification is certainly exciting, but you don't need to spend a zillion dollars and create the next Legend of Zelda in order to make it work for you. Pick the aspects that suit your company, and ignore the rest. Life is too short to chase every trend. Unless every trend is also a mushroom that makes you grow big. Or for that matter, a flower that lets you shoot fireballs. Or a metaphor that wont die.

To learn more about the principles of gamification check out this article by Ken Krogue.

If you're more into videos, here's a really great one starring Gabe Zichermann. He gives some really cool insights into what businesses and researchers are doing with gamification principals. This video is also super entertaining!

Here's another great video about gamifications principals. It's a little less fun, but a bit more specific to recruiting, so it's totally worth the two and a half minutes.

I'm off to take that hacking quiz ... or maybe I'll just watch Hackers for the ninth time.