Who Wants To Play The Hiring Games?

By: Robyn Leenaerts

There was a time that “gaming the system” was considered a bad thing, not so true these days. There’s a growing trend that we’ve been watching here within the startup-hiring ecosystem where companies are using contests or gaming as part of their hiring process.

I saw this personally at NYC Tech Day this year at the ZocDoc table. Pass a simple college-level coding test on site and you got an invitation to interview at their offices. Around the same time USA Today reported Silicon Valley startup Quixey held a similar contest where they sweetened the deal- debug a piece of code and get $100 as well as an invitation to interview. The result? 81 out of 385 contestants won the bounty and Quixey got introduced to a bevy of talented engineers, a few that they went on to hire.

In some instances, specifically with development and engineering jobs, it makes sense to see if a person has some basic coding skills to get through to a higher level of consideration. It’s not like graphic design work where you can link to an online portfolio and show what you can do. With certain skills, the handy-work is built-in behind the scenes.

The interesting thing is that you’d think on some level this type of tactic is all about the company finding the best talent, and that’s definitely part of it, but as the Quixey folks point out – recruitment competitiveness for certain sectors is at an all time high, and these types of ice-breakers are a fun way for a company to get noticed by the candidates they want to talk to.

A great article in the Economist this week takes this topic even one step further. Companies are now using gaming as a way to predict performance. Startup company Knack has developed a series of video games used to test cognitive skills, and claim that with as little as 10 minutes of game play, they can predict performance. And should you think that this type of recruitment is only being limited to the startup ecosystem, the article goes on to say that Fortune 500 standard Shell Oil is set to test a pilot of the Knack system for one of its groups.

There’s no doubt that this trend will continue to grow. The type of candidates who are attracted by, and attracted to, working with a startup conceivably should be attracted to these types of challenges.  Getting to challenge yourself, getting to grow in new and unexpected ways is exactly what working for a startup is all about.

Tell us how you feel about the idea of gaming the system to get a job. Love it or hate it?



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