The Gaming Imperative for Pre-Employment Screening Assessments – Part 1

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Part I | How Improving the Candidate Experience Impacts the chances of Hiring Top Performers

The buzz has been building for years now…

“Game-enabled assessments are the wave of the future.”

“Gaming will make assessments fun and engaging.”

“Assessment games will be a competitive advantage when seeking young, educated, talented high-tech and business professionals.”

gamification1-1Blah… blah… blah…

Most of us have read the articles in ERE by luminaries such as Dr. Charles Handler and Kevin Wheeler or seen the magic quadrants or Gartner white papers.

Yet, with notable exceptions, game-enabled assessments are still far from mainstream.

So how are those long, tedious, boring online assessments workin’ for ya?

At, we detect an extinction-level event that will change everything about online screening assessments.

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The HR Leadership at a company in the roofing material warehouse space called us wanting to ditch the free assessment of dependability and safety provided by their insurance company.


Candidates didn’t complete it.

Many of those who did just answered 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 after the first few items, just to get out of there.

A fast-growing uniformed security company that processes 24,000 assessments a month wanted to drop their 80 item assessment and find something more engaging.

The HR leader at one of the world’s largest security companies wished we had talked to her 9 months ago, when she started a field trial with the largest and best-known international assessment vendor.

The problem is always the same…

Only 40-60% of respondents who click
“Apply Now”
actually complete valid assessments.

A higher percentage of candidates will complete simple, fast assessments such as the DISC, the MBTI, the Predictive Index, and PerforMax.

There are literally scores of back-of-the-napkin developed assessments by Dr. This and Professor That.

Here’s the thing…

There is clear evidence they predict job performance weakly, if at all.

Assessments that don’t predict job performance are about as helpful as giving a fish a bicycle or worse, some mercury.

Careful studies, such as the Epson research project by Dr. Peter Saville, show these assessments deliver predictive power in the 5-15% range— well below what the lowly unstructured one-on-one interview delivers (at 20%).

Tedious, long, and boring is one reason respondents don’t finish online pre-employment assessments.

Generic tests that ask questions that predict job performance, but don’t ever come up on the job, is another issue.

Face validity (whether the test is job-related) does not determine the predictive power of a test, but it does influence whether respondents finish the test.

And if top performing talent won’t finish the test, or blow it off, they won’t score well and thus won’t get hired.

This is a particular problem with mental ability tests that sometimes include algebra, when there is none to be found on the job or picking the next number in a series, when the job involves picking the right sales pitch to make to a new customer in the store.

That’s where the visual gamification imperative comes in…

If only half of the candidates seriously finish the assessment, which half is that: The top or the bottom 50% performers?


Well, it’s not as simple as that.

Yet few would argue that more top 20% Generation Y / Z performers are likely to blow off or drop the assessment than performers from the bottom 20%.

After all, it’s the bottom 20% that need to do whatever it takes to get a job.

The top 20% likely have other offers, or soon will.

Look at it this way: if the 80/20 rule applies, then only 20% of the top 20% performers complete the assessment at a 50% overall completion rate, but 80% of the bottom 20% complete it.

Your chances of hiring a top 20% performer, even with a screening assessment solution that validates with a correlation of 0.5, are way lower than for a similar screening tool that enjoys a 95% completion rate.

How much better?

About 4 to 5 times better.

Think about that…

What would it mean to your business
if you were 4X better than your competitor
at hiring top 20% performers?

In my next installment, we look at what gamification-enabled assessments looks like today…

Editor’s note: Tom’s second part can be viewed by clicking here

Free Webinar:

The Gaming Imperative for Pre-Employment Screening

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recorded on (Wed 4-Feb-2015)
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Part Two of this 2-Part Post

Click here to continue discovering more in Dr. Tom Janz’s 2nd part of this post

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Tom Janz

Chief Scientist at People Assessments

Tom Janz is a seasoned, published thought leader in talent sourcing, assessment, and development.

He applies the following strengths to creating human asset value:

  • advanced analytical skills
  • emotional intelligence
  • realistic optimism
  • a passion for achievement, and
  • the courage to be new

Tom's specialties include behavioral interviewing, business impact analysis, strategic performance modeling, testing, performance management, corporate culture assessment and development.

You can reach Tom via social media, email, or by leaving a comment below...

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