Robert Newry

Robert Newry

MD at Arctic Shores

Video-games for legal recruitment: Gimmick or game-changer?

Since the news broke that Clifford Chance is trialling the use of a new video-game based test to find and select the most suitable trainees, there has been much speculation about whether this is merely a marketing gimmick or a genuine shift in the way talent for the legal sector can be identified. Our company is behind the game-based assessment being trialled so I’m going to separate the fact and the fiction around this new form of recruitment tool. First of all, some facts...

A game-based assessment is first and foremost a psychometric assessment which uses game-like graphics and formats to provide a more engaging interface for the user. It is not a ‘game’ for entertainment like Angry Birds although elements of it are entertaining to allow the user to focus on the challenge rather than how they are being assessed. The innovation lies in the fact that a game-based assessment measures real decisions and behaviours – such as, are you patient or impulsive, do you put more effort in or less when a task gets difficult, and how quickly do you learn from your mistakes.

These decisions are not just captured but analysed in terms of the micro-shifts in a candidate’s responses over a 25-30 minute session, at the end of which over 3,000 data points are captured. Every recruiter would like to know how a candidate would naturally react to the types of activities which underlie many work practices; however, only recently has the technology and the analytics been available to deliver that in a fair and consistent way. Now for the fiction...

Myth No.1 – video-games are a male dominated activity that require highly developed finger co-ordination. The reality is that the typical mobile gamer is a now 26 year old woman (Deloitte 2014), mostly playing Candy Crush! Since the introduction of smartphones, there has been a huge shift in games development to mobile devices; most recently evidenced by Pokemon Go, which at its height had more daily active users than Twitter.

Myth No.2 – not everyone is a gamer. In fact, we all love games - in some cases we have simply forgotten and my support for this assertion is ‘Rock, paper, Scissors’. I have had conference delegates at HR events in New York, London, Paris, Budapest and Singapore all playing and enjoying this ‘game’. There is also lots of interesting psychology behind what decisions you make in Rock, Paper, Scissors. A game-based assessment uses the same principles of simplicity and engagement, just in a 21st century mobile game format and capturing every interaction.

Law firms have not been renowned for their early adoption of innovation, so there has been a great deal of interest surrounding the experiences of two firms that have already experimented with game-based assessments. Here are some of the main insights from those trials:

1. It is very important to conduct an internal study to validate which elements from the game-based assessment match to what ‘good’ looks like in the firm.
2. Communication around the set-up and context of game-based assessments requires careful consideration. Candidates should be advised that game-based assessments are ‘engaging’ not ‘fun’ and the challenges in the assessment have been mapped to successful behaviours in the workplace.
3. Running a game-based assessment alongside the current process allows the benefits of the attraction element to be gained while at the same time validating the bespoke ‘Fit Score’ algorithm. Once the validation has been completed, the decision can be made on whether to switch away from an over-reliance on numerical and verbal reasoning tests.

There have been many ‘games’ over the years that have generated a lot of excitement yet were limited to their moment in time. Game-based assessments are different though because they are not designed for entertainment – they are first and foremost an objective assessment, governed by the scientific standards set by the likes of the British Psychological. What we do know is that the millennial generation is keen on feedback, bored of aptitude tests and passionate about being given a fair chance to shine.

Credit to the legal sector for wanting to be at the forefront of a new approach.