Ken Gaebler has recently discussed a possible new way of hiring future employees called “employment simulations.” Gaining popularity amongst high-tech firms that aim to gain data that can’t be obtained from the classic sit-down interview, it typically involves a candidate participating in an online “video game” that creates a simulation of a work environment that is then able to determine how well potential candidates perform in actual job situations. One example of this are call centers, which are very amenable to simulations as the work environment itself—a series of databases and computer programs—is relatively easy to replicate, as are the ways to measure job performance (e.g. data entry accuracy and speed, multitasking, customer service, etc.)
Many other employment simulation programs have been written and are used in healthcare, retail sales, and manufacturing, as well as automotive, telecom, insurance, hospitality, and travel and financial services. “There are no questions about your former work experience and office habits. There’s simply a computer game. If you win, you get the job. If you lose, game over,” exclaims Gaebler.
However, there are those that oppose the rise in simulation software, stating that simulators and other computer-based hiring models have some drawbacks. “Like any technology, the effectiveness of employment simulations is limited to the quality of the software and its accessibility to users,” states Gaebler.
To think of a future where whether you got your next employment literally hangs on your ability in a video game is certainly a weird one to consider. However, whether it’s a future that eventually becomes the norm remains to be seen. I would expect quite a bit of resistance by many companies that would rather stick to the traditional sit-down interview. It would certainly eliminate people overstating their abilities whilst in an interview: relying on their current abilities than previous accomplishments.
Surprisingly, simulations have been used for employment for quite a long time, with the first simulations being used in industrial and manufacturing environments to help test one’s ability to perform tasks that required strength and/or manual dexterity. As technology continues to improve, simulation software is believed to allow a more realistic number of options to be available, incorporating a more “sandbox” style as well as potential for social networking and the ability to create a data dossier, eliminating the need for a résumé.
Now, this sounds all well and good, but Gaebler also seems aware of the limitations of employment simulations; and it would appear that there are some fields of work that are naturally better suited for this type of interview technique. As the programming behind the simulations improves and more feedback is given, don’t be surprised when the next occupation you apply for involves taking part in a simulation. Just don’t play it like it’s Grand Theft Auto, for your career’s sake.