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Wilkinson Coutts & Matthews Integrity Training

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WILKINSON COUTTS / MATTHEWS INTEGRITY HUB: an up-to-the-minute information mix designed to help you with your lifework and career development in the asset integrity, inspection and NDE industries.

Matthew Petroleum Notes



In the integrity industry it’s not unusual to hear employers banging on about how difficult it is to find good job applicants these days. Adverts posted through social media agencies result in a stream of unqualified applicants. There may be some good ones hidden in there but many applicants seem to have hardly bothered to read the technical details of the job advert but e-mail their CV in anyway to see what happens.

Really, it is difficult to see why this should come as such as surprise. There is no reason on earth why the easy, instant transfer of information should improve the quality of that information. This poses the challenge to all employers competing in a scarce-resource skills market; How do I identify and attract the best people from a generation glued to their smartphones?

Some businesses are trying gamification. It hasn’t spread to the integrity/inspection industries yet but you can imagine that it might be waiting just around the corner. Let’s see how it works.

What is gamification?

Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in a context which is not strictly a game, as we would recognise it, but which follows game-like rules nevertheless. Business is a type of game, and job interviews are most certainly games. Think of the players, the plays, bluffs, protocols and procedures involved and you can see its game-like characteristics everywhere you look.

To use gamification as part of the job interview process it is necessary to follow the principles of how games work. The purpose behind it is to engage users (job applicants) and drive their behaviour. Games do this in quite a clever way; the neural impact of gamification within the brain gives an effect similar to that of gambling and other competitive activities which release specific chemicals to create feelings of excitement and pleasure. That’s one reason why people become addicted to their smartphones and time seems to pass so quickly when you are interacting with yours.

If you look at successful computer games you see four main areas working in combination to produce an environment which encourage engagement, loyalty and motivation (exactly what a recruiter is looking for). The four principles are:

  1. The accumulation of points; for players to earn;
  2. Rewards; for players to spend their earned points on;
  3. Badges of achievement; for players to exhibit
  4. Leader boards; to show feedback which is visible to everyone.

Some companies are already doing it

One very large global company has already introduced a smartphone gaming app to help assess its job applicants for its apprenticeship scheme (you can search for it under Firefly Freedom). There’s another one called Multiopoly, so the idea seems to be growing.

From the employer’s viewpoint, games like this can give them some indication on how quickly candidates learn, behave, and approach risks. By making the interview procedure more fun and interactive, the idea is that the results are more realistic and accurate than from telephone screening interviews. It doesn’t do the employer’s image any harm either; helping to build interest about their company and job vacancies out there in the jobs marketplace. Who knows? it may even work.

Next step? Virtual Reality

What an employer really needs in an interview situation is to be able to assess you, the candidate’s, natural responses to technical or business situations. The dull theatre of face-to-face interviews is poor at showing this, particularly if there is an interview panel committee involved. In theory, at least, interview tasks given in a virtual reality setting may give better results. With virtual reality, it’s possible to build in the four principles of gamification that, let’s be honest, some of the interview panel would probably struggle with across the generation gap. VR technology already exists and will develop quickly, just as old-fashioned video conferences quickly turned into Skype, Facetime and the others.

Technical job interviews

Although most of the uses of interview gamification have, so far, not been used in the technical/engineering world it is difficult to see a reason why they would not be as suitable for technical job recruitment as for any other type. Engineering /integrity job interviews may actually be more suited for gamification, as they have a sound technical base on which to base the game content. This makes it much more realistic than for jobs that have a fluffy, less tangible, output. So, we should expect it soon.

Gamification applied to training

Gamification is not limited to interview situations; it can also be used   as part of training. The principle is that gamified  interaction between training delegates takes the place of much of the one-way communication between trainer and delegates. This is the so-called method of Peer-to-Peer (P2P) learning. See our accompanying article P2P Learning for more information.

Games people play