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The Gamification of Hiring 203

First time accepted submitter funge writes "The Economist has an article on Work and play: The gamification of hiring about a start-up that lets you play games to show off your talents to prospective employers. From the article: 'The rules of Happy Hour are deceptively simple. You are a bartender. Your challenge is to tell what sort of drink each of a swelling mob of customers wants by the expressions on their faces. Then you must make and serve each drink and wash each used glass, all within a short period of time. Play this video game well and you might win a tantalizing prize: a job in the real world.'"
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The Gamification of Hiring

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:57AM (#40128685)

    Seriously, WTF is wrong with employers these days??

    Isn't it enough that I went to college and built a solid base of good work I can point to that shows I can do the job?

    If you just want someone reliable who is quick to learn and gets things done, don't put me through the wringer like you're a Bachelorette holding out for Prince Charming!

    • by The Mighty Buzzard ( 878441 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @12:31PM (#40128887)
      Those who can, do. Those who can't, manage.
      • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @03:59PM (#40130057)

        Well put.

        The gag is that they learn just that at those management seminars. I kid you not, I was forced to sit through a few of this. It reminded me a lot of kindergarden. Essentially, what you do is sit around and play silly group games. A bunch of people getting to stand on a tiny carpet and have to turn the carpet around without getting off it. I get it, we can only do it if we work together and if some lead and some follow, can I now get out of the armpit of that fat bozo next to me?

    • by sycodon ( 149926 )

      The Perter Principal Lives! [businessweek.com]

    • by pitchpipe ( 708843 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @01:39PM (#40129233)

      Seriously, WTF is wrong with employers these days??

      It's corporatocracy at its finest. With fewer and fewer jobs, and more and more wealth being concentrated in the hands of the few, it is not surprising to see our corporate masters starting to act like the feudal lords of old. We are there for their entertainment.

      Because corporations are gathering power over our lives that used to belong only to the government, we need a bill of rights that covers interactions between corporations and individuals, their 'corporations are citizens too' bullshit notwithstanding.

      I, for one, do not welcome our corporate overlords.

      • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @02:59PM (#40129703) Journal

        Because corporations are gathering power over our lives that used to belong only to the government, we need a bill of rights that covers interactions between corporations and individuals,

        Corporations are gathering power over our lives that never belonged to the government.

        There was actually a time when there was something of a balance between the aggregate of labor and the aggregate of capital. People like my grandfather got their heads bashed in so that future workers could have this balance, but an organized, systematic attack on workers' rights by an unholy alliance of the biggest corporations and the corporate royalist politicians like Ronald Reagan and Mitt Romney has created the arena-like atmosphere of today's workplace, where the question is not how small will my annual raise be, but how much of my compensation will I be required to give back to the employer. And those give-backs are certainly not because the corporations aren't profitable, in fact they are profitable at all-time historical levels. Rather those give-backs are meant to create greater separation between a self-appointed elite and the people who actually make the machines go. It wasn't the result of market forces that created this situation, it was the belief that money accumulated is morally superior to money earned. And that sociopathic worldview has destroyed families, communities and sickened society to the point of near collapse. The reason workers are making less, we are told by the likes of Mitt Romney, is because workers are not willing to make less. And tribalism is engaged in the most cynical ways to get people to stand up and demand to not get a pension, to demand to not have the right to collectively bargain, to demand not to be treated with respect. Meanwhile, the "capital management" elite are laughing up their shirtcuffs while voting each other obscene rewards.

        And that balance between the power of capital and the power of labor was not only good for the union workers, but it was good for the entire economy, the entire culture. We had an unprecedented period of growth, where workers at all levels of society could have a small measure of dignity, and expectation of a little better life for their kids.

        "Class warfare" they accuse, when any mention of their ugly willingness to break the social contract. "Class warfare!". They should only get a taste of real class warfare. Maybe that's the only thing that would make them re-think their destructive ways: actual class warfare. Because it makes one reconsider the errors of one's ways when the head of a colleague ends up on a pike.

        • If it's any comfort to you, it usually ends with the elimination of some heads. It just takes time.

          • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @05:30PM (#40130563) Journal

            If it's any comfort to you, it usually ends with the elimination of some heads. It just takes time.

            I know, but that's some cold comfort.

            For me, I don't really care. My working life, my accumulating life is over. I've gotten to a point, by long design, where these things don't affect me so directly any more.

            But I've got a kid, a daughter, who's just getting started in life. It burns me up that the world she's getting ready to take on is so hostile to the traditional values of love, family, integrity, fairness.

            Because to the people in charge, "family values" means making sure that two gay guys can't get the same rights as my wife and me, but to me, "family values" means that a family can afford to send kids to school and get mom surgery if she needs it and maybe retire to a simple life of ease for a few years. "Family values" means that buying a home is more than the three-card monte game that the financial industry has made it. I was there the day my mom and dad burned their mortgage on a house my dad was able to buy after coming home from WWII. How many families ever get to a "mortgage burning" any more? How many people in their fifties or sixties ever see that kind of independence? And it's not by accident that the answer is "very few".

            People want to talk about the "gamification" of the job market. How freaking insulting. Human beings take work seriously. The work they do is not just about bringing home a check. I don't care if you're a machinist like my dad or a garbage man or a computer programmer. Our elites have turned it all to shit, and now they want us to fix it all for them by working an extra five years of our lives and by sending our kids to trade school instead of university and by renting instead of buying.

            I always go stop and stand around near my mom and dad's grave on memorial day. I look at the flag on my dad's headstone and the mention of "family and country" there. I can't believe how badly our "overlords" have mis-served us. As far as I'm concerned, they have forfeited their right to our obedience. The heads of corporations should fear us, not the other way around.

            I'm ready to pitch in and buy John Galt a one-way ticket, because he's a big selfish fuck-up.

            • Human beings take work seriously. The work they do is not just about bringing home a check.

              I don't take work seriously, and it is overwhelmingly about bringing home a check.

              In my experience it is the capitalists, corporatists and billionaires who place work at the centre of the universe.

              • I don't take work seriously, and it is overwhelmingly about bringing home a check.

                I think you're mistaking "work" for "career". Most everyone I know takes some pride in their work. They do a "good job" even when nobody is watching.

        • Unions (in the US) cut their own throats when they made it hard to fire someone who sucks at their job. No one wants to work in a place where that one person who can't be fired because of seniority is constantly making their life miserable.

          Next time power swings to the side of the unions, we need to remember that.
        • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

          I agree with your assessment except for the partisan bias.. Both parties are to blame.

      • Worker's bill of rights? That sounds like a document that would be written by something called... wait for it... a union.

        Nowadays, like it or not, that word is synonymous with "mafia" and "over-regulation of the free market", just the way our corporate overlords prefer it.

        Here on /. all the kids think it means "too much of a pussy to demand a raise", which just goes to show how the battles won by our parents for our benefit are forgotten by their grandkids.
    • >Isn't it enough that I went to college and built a solid base of good work I can point to that shows I can do the job?

      That is exactly what I look for when hiring. A couple of relevant references would be nice, and depending on the position, I will give you a test when you come in for an interview.

    • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @02:05PM (#40129377) Journal
      I think you're missing the point. The job market for programmers is changing, in Silicon Valley there are now far more positions than programmers. These guys aren't trying to rule out bad programmers, they are trying to attract good ones. (note: if you're going to reply to me saying you still can't find a job, the problem is you not the market).

      When kids from college hear that sort of thing, they think, "cool my job interview is a game!" Then they tell their friends, who are immediately jealous. Remember these are kids who've grown up most of their life playing games, have spent much more time playing games than working. It appeals to them. They want to dance.

      Note, when I say they are trying to attract talent, I mean they are trying to attract cheap college students, not actual experienced programmers. This kind of thing drives me crazy.

      Someday I want to start a company with a bunch of old, experienced, very very good programmers. We will all write solid, readable code, and get things done in an eighth of the time it takes everyone else. It will be wonderful.
      • by hughbar ( 579555 )
        Ha! I'm 61 still programming, having demoted myself back to freelance coding and I'll come and work for you. Just joking, I get plenty of work, for the reasons in your last paragraph, I turn up at the right time each day and get on with it. Also, I've seen plenty of stuff to have fairly good intuitions about what's going to be problematic before we're three months in.

        As for the subject of the post, do these HR/cool-corporate trends never end? We're through the bean-bag and table football now, I guess. So
        • Well... if THAT fit's your job profile, I'm oik with that.

          OTOH, if your job requires some fast respones to external stimuli and remembering stuff, then that game might really do a good job sorting out applicants.

          But that's not that type of skillset that you aquire by studying for your master degree.

        • Exactly. Old guys rock! (Assuming they know how to program). And they're experienced so they know how to keep going through the rough patches without burning out (life balance, sense of perspective, and all that). The only reason I can see for hiring a bunch of young programmers is because you can't find enough experienced programmers.
          • There are good reasons and bad reasons for hiring inexperienced programmers. The bad reason is that they're cheap and willing to put up with a lot of crap. The good reason is that they haven't picked up very many bad habits yet. It's usually easier to teach someone good habits than it is to persuade someone to unlearn bad ones. If you're willing to put in effort in terms of mentorship and training, and then make sure that your work environment encourages them to stick around so you reap the rewards, the
            • Yeap. I still think you'd get more done, more cheaply, if you hired some experienced, capable programmers than the other way around. Tough to find that kind, though.
      • by hax4bux ( 209237 )

        I work at a SOMA startup where all the coders (except one) are over 40 years old.

        We do great things. Without drama or ego. It is a wonderful place to work.

      • Funny thing about experience... I haven't been programming professionally long enough to have a really good perspective on the overall market, but all of the "old and experienced" programmers I have personally worked with were lousy at it. They're passably good at one small aspect, usually writing C against Win32 or MFC, and refuse to have anything to do with anything else. And typically throw endless hackish patches onto poorly-architectures code until eventually it's basically unmaintainable.

        Not to say th

        • Yeap. Problem is a lot of the good ones have figured out how to IPO or get into management. Hard to find experienced good programmers.
    • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @02:32PM (#40129541) Journal

      Seriously, WTF is wrong with employers these days??

      Isn't it enough that I went to college and built a solid base of good work I can point to that shows I can do the job?

      No, that's not enough. Employers want you to be a lot more humble than that. Your solid base of good work and education only means that you'll probably expect to be treated like a human being of value instead of someone desperate, sniveling, insecure.

    • Isn't it enough that I went to college and built a solid base of good work I can point to that shows I can do the job?

      No. That is not enough. I have interviewed many, many people with degrees in computer science who cannot write a program to sort an array of ten integers. Those with a "solid base of good work" often cannot explain any of it, and will eventually admit it was done as a team project.

      If you want to work for me, you will have to prove you can write code by writing code.

      • This. A billion times this.

        Throw away your resume and your diploma. I don't want to see either. I want to see your code. If I want anything besides that, I want you to swear that you did it yourself and didn't crib that, because if I wanted that, I could look at your diploma. Hell, how do you think I got mine? :)

        But seriously. I've seen far too many people holding degrees that should mean something only to discover what you did: They can't code their way out of a paper bag.

        But for that, I don't need them to

    • Isn't it enough that I went to college and built a solid base of good work I can point to that shows I can do the job?

      No that's not good enough. Pretty much anyone with a degree could do that job. Employers want people who are not only good at what they do but show great team skills, interact well with people, and are generally a pleasure to work with. Some other skills such as negotiating or good presenting abilities are also desirable. You can't show that on your CV.

      This is nothing new. Many many years ago when I applied for a job we were put through a similar activity. It was one of those lose-lose group scenarios where

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday May 27, 2012 @12:05PM (#40128727) Homepage Journal

    We've been asking for a meritocracy for a long time, now. How do you expect to prove your merit without some kind of testing?

    On the plus side, if you try to go to work for a beer bar you can always just play tapper. Or the minigame in Fable.

    • by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @12:15PM (#40128781)

      A meritocracy is about the merits of what you do...this manifests itself in the hiring process as a 'resume'. Obviously, if you haven't been hired yet, you can't stand on the merits of what you have done for the prospective employer yet, so instead it's all about the merits of what you have done for past employers. But this has nothing to do with playing a video game, especially one that uses a fairly arbitrary skill to determine success. I agree that it'd be useful to have fair, objective and broadly applicable metrics for hiring decisions. But at the end of the day, jobs differ enormously, and so do the required skills, suitable temperaments, and even desirable personality traits. And often those factors differ for the same job, when different companies are compared, due to cultural or organizational differences.

      • by blackraven14250 ( 902843 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @12:46PM (#40128945)
        The thing is that the example in the summary has a clear application to a specific job (bar tending), not general applicability to all jobs. I could see lots of games like this being created for different professions, and used as a skills check before letting someone work. For this one in particular, it answers a couple of the most important questions for a bartender. Can you manage a bunch of people's needs at once effectively? Do you know the mixed drinks? Those two are the sorts of skills that are hard to quantify via an interview alone, and someone can exhibit them for the employer to see while playing the game.
    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      depends on what your future employee wants, if they want someone who will do anything, no matter how ridiculous the request, and never even bat an eye, this this monkey yes-man test is perfect.

      The one I went though recently though is much more realistic, working though a temp agency with no promises for 4 months to prove I could do the job and that I was a good fit ... not that I could fuck off on a computer playing video games.

      I am now a full employee

    • There is a startup called Hire Art http://www.hireart.com/ [hireart.com] that's doing something similar without the "gamification". Instead of playing a game like in the article, or going to the other extreme and requiring full-scale work samples, they have smaller-scale tests related to the required skills, including reading comprehension, basic numeracy/statistics, and more technical tests. An employer can choose modules and put together a short test to identify the skills they're looking for. Some tests can be graded

  • by mwfischer ( 1919758 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @12:06PM (#40128733) Journal

    Muslim... water
    Buddhist... water
    Hindu... water
    Seventh Day.... water
    Mormon... actually lost, needs directions

    What do I win?

  • Was TFA ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @12:08PM (#40128745)

    ... referring to a job interview for a job as a bartender? Otherwise, what's the point?

    • Well, if you can remember a hundred cocktails and recite the ingredients without looking them up, chances are that you're drinking a lot and that I don't want to hire you because it's likely you'll come in on Mondays with a hangover.

  • And how (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Janek Kozicki ( 722688 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @12:10PM (#40128757) Journal

    is that related to any skills you might need at work?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Obey stupid commands, do meaningless tasks and amuse your superiors?

    • by artor3 ( 1344997 )

      Depends on the job, obviously. Doctors probably get asked questions about lymph nodes, which I'm sure is equally irrelevant to your work. Would you like to complain about that, as well?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    For years my quiz bowl teacher tested membership based on an untimed written test. I made the quiz bowl team each time, and was captain during the one time when I can recall spending a lot of time after everyone else had finished putting down my answers. Our team only performed remarkably well during its first existence, when it was a different teacher and the team had been composed of a different set of people (I can't recall the evaluation process). I was on that team, but contributed no answers to a 2

  • Gaming Cliches That Need To Die
    Submission: Gamification of Hiring

    How apropos.

  • The Last Starfigher (Score:5, Informative)

    by severett ( 38602 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @12:34PM (#40128891) Homepage

    In other words someone watched The Last Starfighter. Not exactly a new concept.

    • by cffrost ( 885375 )

      In other words someone watched The Last Starfighter. Not exactly a new concept.

      Considering the human degradation involved here, I thought maybe these employers had watched Bumfights [wikimedia.org].

    • In other words someone watched The Last Starfighter. Not exactly a new concept.

      Also recall the Stargate Universe pilot.

  • What about learning? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by utkonos ( 2104836 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @12:39PM (#40128911)
    Do you look at how the candidate plays the game after three or four times? Or perhaps you let the candidate play the game for a day, then look at their performance the next day. Are they still not very good at the game, or have they mastered the game?

    I would be much more interested in hiring someone who can master the game in a short period of time than someone who passes some lower standard instantly, but stays at that level.
  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @12:39PM (#40128915)
    It looks like the answer here is to keep HR away from the bartender and cut off the cocaine supply to those that let them run with this idea.
  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @12:56PM (#40128997)

    "Happy Hour, which will be unveiled to the public on May 28th, is one of several video games developed by Knack, a start-up founded by Guy Halfteck, an Israeli entrepreneur. The games include a version of Happy Hour in which sushi replaces booze, Words of Wisdom (a word game) and Balloon Brigade (which involves putting out fires with balloons and water). They are designed to test cognitive skills that employers might want, drawing on some of the latest scientific research. These range from pattern recognition to emotional intelligence, risk appetite and adaptability to changing situations."

    "According to Chris Chabris of the Centre for Collective Intelligence at MIT, a member of the Knack team, games have huge advantages over traditional recruitment tools, such as personality tests, which can easily be outwitted by an astute candidate."

    "Some firms seem to see the potential. The GameChanger unit of Shell, which seeks out new disruptive technologies for the oil giant, is about to test if Knack can help it identify innovators. Bain & Company, a consultancy, is to run a pilot: it will start by getting current staff to play the games, to see which skills make for a successful consultant. (The ability to charge a lot for stating the obvious is presumably not one of them.) “If someone can materially improve our ability to select the best talent, that is worth a lot to us,” says Mark Howorth, a recruiter at Bain. And if not, at least the process will be fun."

    This might clear up some questions about what this is all about.

  • by slasho81 ( 455509 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @12:59PM (#40129009)

    Personnel selection is an extremely hard problem. Sorting out people for jobs is one of the most important problems organizations face. It's almost always unrecognized in its complexity, and the majority of decision makers are unaware of the current process's inefficiency and ineffectiveness.

    The solution the startup in the post offers is preposterous and obviously ineffective. It's also downright insulting to prospective employees. A degrading selection process will have a negative effect on the quality of the prospective candidate pool you'll have.

    If you take into account current research findings and practicality, the best you can do today to select someone for a job is:

    1. Only consider candidates with a respectable educational certificate (i.e. those with quality education, either academic or vocational).

    2. Let candidates perform a sample of the job they're interviewing for. Score their performance objectively. Select the highest performers.

    That's it. No interviews, assessment centers, theoretical exams, references, past job experience, resume screening, etc. They're all worthless and impractical.

    • by Surt ( 22457 )

      I've always found past job experience + #2 for confirmation to be best. Better, even, than #1 + #2, for anything other than entry level.

      • The problems with past job experience:

        • * It's hard to verify and therefore heavily fudged. If you select using a heavily and easily fudged indicator, you're just fooling yourself.
        • * Unless the job position is exactly the same as was previously occupied, which is rarely the case, the past experience may not be relevant and it usually isn't.
        • * The fact that candidates have past job experience doesn't indicate whether they were any good at the job. They could have been terrible at the job and got fired, whi
        • by Surt ( 22457 )

          For your last point, that's why I made the clarifying comment about using education for entry level. I strongly disagree with past experience being hard to verify. Sure, the exact details may be hard to verify, what you can verify is whether or not they developed the expected level of skill in the given amount of time. If I ask for 5 years of java experience, that's really a proxy for having developed core competency with the language (along with some of the technologies in the ecosystem), and that's wha

    • #1 is retarded. The guy fresh out of school with a piece of paper will not have the breadth and depth of knowledge a guy who has been doing it for over a decade will. Real life knowledge generally trumps book knowledge.

      • See my other reply regarding past job experience.

        The purpose of respectable credentials is to serve as a general quality cutoff point for filtering the candidate pool. Sure, we've all seen great workers without any credentials and terrible workers with plenty of respectable credentials, but those are exceptional anecdotes, not the rule. The group of candidates with respectable credentials are, as a group, much better on every dimension than those without. So it's practical to use respectable credentials a

  • what about more apprenticeships / tech schools where you can test people on real skills and have tests based on real work.

    Also you don't want tests that people can ace by cramming but don't know about stuff the test covers.

  • so what happens when you get people who get a good score on the test but then get told they don't have a Degree so you end taking some with a Degree and a very low score on the test.

  • personality tests can trip up good people with there odd questions.

    OK now asking the same thing over and over is there to see if you answer the same why but some times changing the question can change the answer.

    also border line questions are hard to find out what they want the answer to be.

  • Sounds very similar to OMG POP [omgpop.com], ostensibly a geek singles site wherein contestants play games for the right to woo the game hoster. Members (free reg) can host "game rooms" populated by up to about 5 or other members, and the "hoster" can pick from a large list of games. Popular is a game very similar to "Draw Something" for smart phones. The problem was, at least for me, even after winning a game it wasn't clear to me how to contact the "hoster", nor how to even know that I was inteterested in the user. Th
  • by subreality ( 157447 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @03:10PM (#40129777)

    Your challenge is to tell what sort of drink each of a swelling mob of customers wants by the expressions on their faces

    That sounds to me like they want to filter out Aspergers / autism spectrum applicants, but they can't actually say that since it'd violate the ADA, so this test lets them accomplish that in a legally deniable way.

  • ...from somebody who doesn't drink or go to bars and therefore has no familiarity with mixed drinks or the culture of bar attendance. Like, say, Mormons, Muslims, or... eh, me.

  • Or how to manage a peter pan generation that just don't want to grow up and work.
  • by Kittenman ( 971447 ) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @09:44PM (#40131669)
    Many a year ago (back when I started out: clue - I bought the Joe Walsh LP with 'Life's been good' on it on the same trip...) I got interviewed by employers in the UK. On my CV (which was thin in those days) I'd put that I played boardgames. The interviewers asked why this was relevant. Thinking on my feet, I replied that it showed experience in conflict resolution and teamwork. I think it did, and I still do.

    Not sure why a PC/video game would show that the player had teamwork. Maybe the potential employer would be better off sitting the candidates around a 'Diplomacy' board and coming back in three hours. And not necessarily hiring the winner, but the one that
    a) Everyone got along with
    b) Did ok, considering the starting position
    c) Didn't argue every *&^%ing point ...

    and yes, I got the job.
  • Too bad this test is probably not nearly as entertaining as the one in which Will Smith, confronted with a street full of "snarling"(?) aliens, shoots the little schoolgirl carrying books right between the eyes. Which presumably was the right thing to do as it demonstrated creative(?) thinking.

    He, of course, got the job. By the way, anyone see the new MIB 3 yet? Is it any good?

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun