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Get Your Game on: Parallels between the Gamification Movement in Training and the Virtual Job Tryout

by Jared Ferrell

Recently, Drew Robb wrote  an interesting article in HR Magazine touted the benefits of gaming technology, or gamification, as an innovative method of training employees. While reading this article, certain parallels between gamification and Shaker Consulting Group’s Virtual Job Tryout became abundantly clear. The parallels were evidenced in many of the overarching goals of the experiences, as well as the guidelines given regarding effective practical application of technologically-advanced organizational solutions. Let’s take a closer look at some of the striking similarities between the two experiences.

The gamification movement was born from organizational desire to improve employees’ motivation to complete valuable training programs, as well as to get employees to maintain high levels of engagement during the training activities themselves. This desire also permeates the employee selection industry, with many organizations now choosing to utilize technologically advanced selection systems designed to increase the appeal of the assessments, with this appeal hopefully generalizing to the hiring organization as well.

The VJT employs realistic experiences in assessments to try and mimic many aspects of the job itself, with the goal of keeping applicants engaged, and also gaining more valuable information than self report scales or multiple choice questions could provide alone. While the increasingly realistic experiences within each VJT do help maintain high motivation and engagement among applicants, its effects go far beyond that. The VJT is framed in an interactive manner, specifically to help applicants gain a better understanding of the hiring organization. (see candidate feedback) The gamification article discusses the value of this practice, specifically the utilization of specially tailored narratives that allow the employees to learn more about their organization’s values and activities that reflect these values. The VJT has long capitalized on this valuable opportunity to give applicants a look inside the brand of the hiring organization, helping them gauge whether or not they believe they would be a good fit.

While many organizations have been quick to jump on the technology bandwagon, creating and administering selection systems that include simulations and other experiences designed to create that “wow factor”, the article on gamification imparts invaluable wisdom to those weeding through an increasingly saturated market for technologically-based organizational solutions: while technology may be what catches the eye, the scientific underpinnings of these systems still reign supreme. This is where the Shaker and the VJT have stayed at the upper echelon of technologically-infused selection assessments. Instead of merely employing a one-size-fits-all approach to computer-based assessments, like many in the field have begun to do, Shaker is constantly striving to improve the science behind each and every VJT we implement through rigorous validations and innovation targeted at not only improving the candidate experience, but also focusing on improving the quality and predictive abilities of the VJT itself. Important questions considered in the development of each VJT include things such as:

  • “Ultimately, what is the goal of this system?”
  • “What metrics are likely to aid in the achievement of this goal?”
  • “Who is the target audience for the assessment?”
  • “What will maintain engagement and motivation of applicants as they proceed through the system?”
  • “What methods can we leverage to ensure the legal defensibility of this system?”
  • “How can we leverage our expertise and past experiences to make sure we are constantly improving the overall effectiveness of organizations implementing the VJT?”

As the trend towards newer and better methods of utilizing technology to achieve organizational goals continues, Shaker and the VJT will constantly be at the forefront of innovation, continuously striving to seamlessly integrate the available technology with the critical science that goes into the development of valuable selection systems for organizations.

See a related article here.