What is gamification?

Simply put, you apply elements of a game to solve a problem within a specific field. These elements can range from a competition with others, a reward or badge system for completing certain tasks, or putting certain rules in a given situation (e.g. a time constraint).

Application areas for gamification can be found in many different fields and problems, teaching maths, decoding a DNA sequence, motivating your sales team or - as in our case - recruiting graduates are just a few examples.

“In every job that must be done there is an element of fun - you find the fun and snap, the job’s a game.”

- Mary Poppins

How can your graduate recruitment benefit from gamification?

Boosted by the advance of digital technology, gamification can now help tackling some of the challenges of recruiting young employees. It provides solutions when it comes to

  • Matching candidates to career profiles

Graduate candidates typically don’t have such a sharpened career profile as senior employees. Therefore, applicants straight out of university need a bit more guidance when it comes to choosing a career profile. This choice can be built into the application process via gamification.

Example: One of the most cited cases is the Heineken “Go Places” campaign: an elaborate setup where candidates answer a couple of questions and receive a profile that they have to send in with their CV. However, there are also smaller budget solutions such as Pymetrics - where candidates can test their fit for various career options.

Heineken Go Places

  • Pre-screening applicants

Online-based games allow for testing industry-related knowledge or skills in many applicants at the same time. As performance is tracked according to game rules, the method is less prone to unconscious bias than, for instance, a CV screener - thus, ensuring diversity in the pre-selection process.

Examples: Software programming companies were an early adopter of this trend in order to find developers (on platforms such as HackerRank) - the most popular example is probably the Google Code Jam (video below). But similar solutions also exist in other industries, such as in hospitality & tourism or even for law firms.

Google Code Jam  

  • Assessing soft skills in graduates

With less work experience, the potential of a candidate to develop on the job increases in importance. In games, it is easy to include elements of interaction with others and track the candidate’s’ behaviour towards their team members or opponents.

Examples: There are a number of different platforms out there used by different companies, such as Multipoly used by PwC Hungary or Owiwi.

Pwc Hungary

  • Employer branding for young employees

As employers are exploring new channels to reach a new generation of employees, gamification tools have become a way to foster engagement among candidates as well as existing employees. Promoting an employer brand is part of active sourcing - a recruitment method that relies less on waiting for applications to a job ad and more on proactive communication with applicants.

Examples: PepsiCo. has structured their graduate scheme promotion around the “Go Trendsetter Challenge” - a competition for innovative ideas in the food and beverage market (it runs on the platform Agorize). Other systems such as Badgeville or Captain Up provide solutions that companies can integrate into their employee engagement programmes. 

Google Code Jam  

  • Giving feedback to applicants

Gamification in recruitment also satisfies the applicant need for real-time feedback (without costing HR too much time or risking a discrimination lawsuit), for example, by showing them a final score, or their ranking spot among all participants in the game.         


It’s important to note that gamification is made a lot simpler by digital technology (through solutions such as smartphone apps or online quizzes), but it doesn’t necessarily rely on it. Some financial institutions, for example, have been known to organise “treasure hunt” scenarios as part of their graduate assessment.

Google Code Jam