Talent Management

Nov 20, 2023 19 min read

Data-Driven Play: Leveraging Analytics in Gamified Hiring


Industry 4.0 has revolutionized multiple processes and has contributed to the exponential growth in many sectors. Even the so-called ‘hard’ sectors such as Manufacturing, Mining, and Oil & Gas are leveraging to optimize their processes. Gamification coupled with data analytics in the recruitment process is an interesting concept and has the potential to gain a holistic understanding of candidates, reduce bias, and make informed hiring decisions. Gamification in recruitment was first experimented by Google and the concept has come a long way since then. The concept promises a lot of significant advantages, but one important question remains – Should we use Artificial Intelligence to hire Human Intelligence? That call as humans we have to consider how much should we allow AI to control our lives.

Analytics and Gamification however have significant advantages over the traditional hiring processes including removal of biases, reduction in time to hire, and unveiling of candidate’s insights among others.

1. Introduction

I still vividly remember getting caned at home for playing the bike-racing computer game -RoadRash. Computer games and any sort of recreational activity on the sacred “computer” were considered taboo back then. The freshly minted AMD processor was supposedly meant only to process the external information buzzing through a 56kbps Sify dial-up modem and menial requirements of a modest Office suite, whilst the system ran on a classic Windows 95.

In such a period, who would have thought that “Gamification” would attain its peak in Gartner’s Hype Cycle in 2011 and would continue to mystify the world with its potential even two decades later?

But how does Gamification relate to Recruitment? Recruitment is considered a painstakingly serious business wherein one’s professional journey is at stake and gamification is considered to be a rather casual time pass!

2. Why do we need recruitment processes?

Recruitment and recruitment processes in an organizational context have been conceptualized to ascertain the fitness of the human resource with the organizational alignment.

The vision and mission of any organization are quite similar to the Brand Mantra wherein the Points-of-parity and points of differentiation are built around the core concepts of these few words and what really drives them.

According to an article published by Forbes, employees are more important to an organization’s success than customers. The parallel can be drawn with the Type-I and Type-II errors in the statistics wherein, the Type-II error – acceptance of a situation which was wrong is considered more lethal as compared to the Type-I error – rejection of a correct situation. Contrasting the concepts of Statistics with HR, just like a Type-II error, acceptance of a wrong candidate can put the entire HR machinery in overdrive, not to mention the tangible and intangible losses that the incorrect candidate would do.

Thus, it is quite pertinent that a corporation must have a clear and effective recruitment process in place to avoid Type-II errors and select candidates as per the requirements and more importantly job fitment.

3. What is Gamification?

Gamification is a concept that uses game theory, mechanics, and game designs to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals. Gamification has already been in use for quite some time now as a part of our learning management systems and tools. IndianOil has an in-house LMS – Swadhyaya which boasts 1800+ learning modules with varied interactivity levels and has revolutionized the learning ecosystem of the corporation. 

The first instance of gamification was seen in the classical S&H Green Stamp loyalty program. The program used stamps as customer rewards back in 1896. Thus, gamification is not new, but with advancements in data storage and processing capabilities, it surely has gained a significant amount of traction. As a technology, “Gamification” is currently [as of 2022] positioned on the plateau of productivity in Gartner’s Hype Cycle, declining from the peak in 2011). (Thomas, 2023).

Alternate definitions of Gamification:

Gamification is a design process where elements or mechanics in gaming are added to a non-game application or system (Sebastian Deterding, 2011).

Kevin Werbach of the University of Pennsylvania defines gamification as “the use of design techniques from games in a business context or some other non-game context” (Werbach, 2013).

In layman’s terms, the concept of gamification can be described as follows: remodel daily routine and assignment – from employee training and recruiting to quality control and other activities – to be more game-like and interactive, eventually augmenting work experience to be more engaging, fulfilling, fun and productive.

Despite being on the plateau of productivity as per Gartner’s Hype Cycle, the gamification industry showed exceptional growth with an increase in market size from $14.87 billion in 2022 to $18.63 in 2023 at a CAGR of 25.3%, the gamification market is further expected to grow to $46.44 billion in 2027 at a CAGR of 25.6%.(Coppens, 2023).

4. Gamification and Recruitment:

The very first attempt at recruitment through gamification was made by the tech giant – Google with their famous “billboard mathematical riddle”. Through this revolutionary attempt, Google invited people to solve a series of mathematical problems and equations; the ones who followed the challenge with correct answers made great candidates. This early adoption of gamification proved an important point – a win-win. On one hand, the candidates would enjoy the game and maybe land a job and on the other hand, Google would easily attract pre-screened, high-quality applicants. (Bika, n.d.).

The core idea behind using gamification in recruitment is to harness the intrinsic motivation and engagement that games evoke to enhance various aspects of the hiring journey. By incorporating elements like competition, challenges, rewards, and progression, employers can create an immersive experience that goes beyond the traditional CV-based evaluation.

5. Key components of Gamification in Recruitment

5.1 Data Analytics

Data Analytics is central to the gamified hiring approach – it provides the means to measure, assess, and optimize the impact of gamification. Data analytics allows recruiters to gather valuable insights on candidate behaviour, performance, preferences, and interactions throughout the gamified process. These insights provide a nuanced understanding of candidates' strengths, weaknesses, and potential fit for the role and the organization. Data analytics engines use the prowess of Industry 4.0 including the techniques of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Predictive analytics.

5.2 Performance Metrices

Analytics track candidates' progress, scores, completion rates, and time spent on each task. Recruiters can assess which challenges the candidates excel in and identify areas where they might need additional support.They can further fine-tune the challenges, skill-set and skill-levels required to ascertain the candidate's fitment in the job and organization.

5.3 Decision-Making Patterns

Recruiters can also analyse the choices the candidates make within scenarios in the game in order to gain a deeper understanding of their decision-making processes, problem-solving skills, and adaptability. These can then be attached with the candidate’s profile as a base reference.

5.4 Engagement Levels

Analytics provide information about candidates' engagement levels, helping recruiters understand which elements of the gamified process are most appealing and motivating.

6. Advantages of Gamification in Recruitment

6.1 Mitigating Bias and Enhancing Diversity

One of the most promising aspects of data-driven gamification is its potential to mitigate bias in the hiring process. Analytics-driven gamification shifts the focus from personal characteristics to objective performance metrics. This approach promotes a fairer evaluation and allows employers to attract a more diverse talent pool based on skills and potential rather than the traditional markers.

6.2 Leverages Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience

Gamification in recruitment leverages behavioural and cognitive neuroscience to enhance candidate assessments. The years of research done around the domains of behavioural and cognitive neuroscience also goes into the development of the gamification-based recruitment system. Gamification activates the brain's reward system, stimulating motivation and engagement.

Gamification further creates a low-stress environment, allowing the candidates to perform at their best. The real-time data collection from the gamification engine offers great insights into the cognitive abilities and decision-making processes of the candidate.

6.3 Reduced Time to hire

Gamification expedites the hiring process by making assessments more efficient and engaging. Traditional methods often involve lengthy resume reviews and interviews. Gamification streamlines this by offering dynamic, interactive assessments that quickly reveal a candidate's abilities. It provides real-time data on performance, allowing recruiters to make swift, informed decisions. Additionally, the competitive and engaging nature of gamification tends to attract candidates who are genuinely interested and well-suited for the role. This reduces the time spent on evaluating less qualified applicants.

6.4 Unveiling Candidate Insights

Data-driven gamification offers a wealth of candidate insights that extend far beyond what a resume can reveal. Gamified scenarios mirror actual job tasks, revealing natural behaviour and work style. Here are some ways in which data analytics enhances the gamified hiring experience:

  • Behavioural Insights: The sequence of actions candidates take during gamified challenges can reveal behavioural traits such as perseverance, creativity, and strategic thinking.

  • Comparative Analysis: Data-driven gamification enables the creation of benchmarks and comparisons between the candidates, allowing the recruiters to make more informed decisions based on quantifiable data.

6.5 Iterative Refinement

Data analytics empowers recruiters to refine the gamified hiring process iteratively. By analysing the data generated, the employers can identify the pain points, opportunities for improvement, and the aspects that resonate most with the candidates. This ongoing optimization ensures that the gamified experience remains dynamic, relevant, and aligned with the evolving needs of the organization.

7. Challenges

7.1 Ethical Considerations

While using an analytics-driven hiring process, we are essentially using artificial intelligence to hire human intelligence. Ethics, especially data privacy is a major area of concern while deploying any AI-based tool. Deploying gamification, ensuring data privacy, avoiding discriminatory practices, and providing a transparent and inclusive experience are crucial aspects that must be upheld throughout the gamified hiring journey.

7.2 Resource Requirement

Developing a robust and effective gamified hiring process would require quite a significant amount of internal and external resources for any corporation. Apart from developing a base recruitment process, the organization shall also be required to study and update the process and methodology on a regular basis.

8. The Future Landscape

Ever since Google’s “billboard mathematical riddles”, companies such as Siemens, Formaposte, and Marriott have used gamification in their hiring process. As technology continues to advance, the future of data-driven play in hiring looks promising. The integration of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence (AI) promises to create even more immersive and personalized gamified experiences. These innovations will further enhance the accuracy and depth of candidate assessments.

Leveraging analytics in gamified hiring heralds a new era in recruitment. By combining the engaging nature of gamification with the insights provided by data analytics, employers can gain a holistic understanding of candidates, reduce bias, and make informed hiring decisions. As the landscape continues to evolve, embracing this fusion of technology and psychology promises to shape a more effective and equitable hiring process.


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