Can video games help companies profile the best candidates for available positions? One startup will tell you to bet on a winner who excels at video games that showcase unique programming talent.
According to New Scientist, a company called Starfighter has developed a series of video games with the sole aim of identifying programming talent. Rather than putting tech-savvy young people through the standard pre-screening process, Starfighter attempts to use gaming – something millennials have proven very comfortable with – to showcase their talents.
Starfighter’s Game Plan
Starfighter’s games fall under the role playing genre, where the player is asked to use her or his coding skills to do things like break into security systems – these are known as “capture the flag” games, or CTF’s in geek-speak.
This exercise provides employers with insight into who could build the most secure systems, as each player’s approach to the problem is highly indicative of their programming ability.
The software currently exists in the form of standalone games, but the designers are planning to make it available to drop into other, more established games as a game-in-a-game experience. Players need as many skills as possible to progress through each level, and most will find themselves having to do some outside research to crack the codes.
By making the games engaging and challenging, companies encourage employees to sharpen some long-forgotten programming languages or even learn a new one – CTF’s are useful not only for attracting new staff, but also cultivating the skills of existing employees.
Current worker profiles can also be used as a template to gauge the skills and balance the capabilities of new applicants.
We’ve Played This Before
The idea of using a game to pinpoint specific skills isn’t a new one. The Academy Award-winning film The Imitation Game recently highlighted Alan Turing’s technique for recruiting codebreakers during World War II. Turing used the Daily Telegraph’s cryptic crossword to seek out those who could demonstrate creative lateral thinking – a skill that’s vital to both solving crosswords and breaking the Enigma code. Fast forward seventy-odd years, and the same thing is happening on a far more advanced level.
Don’t Hate the Player
With the rise of online and multi-player gaming, playing video games is no longer the solitary experience it used to be, as CNET explains. Self-proclaimed “gamers” are now more desirable to employers than ever, and recruiters are harnessing the rising importance of gaming skills to help these employers identify and select impressive candidates – to a high level in a game designed to seriously challenge programmers is just far more compelling than reeling off past achievements from a C.V.
With this process, there’s also no room for discrimination on the part of either the client or the recruiting agency – the results speak for themselves, and biases are neatly bypassed by the nature of the process. Software like Starfighter can also attract new, young talent simply because it proposes a relatively exciting and modern solution to recruiting.
This demographic is often repelled by outdated processes, so giving them a way to shoot for an opportunity by playing a video game will come off as both clever and compelling.
Implementing cutting-edge recruiting technology will without a doubt attract highly qualified candidates – a creative and impressive hiring process points to a creative and impressive business model and staff. After all, what’s more cutting-edge that transforming a video game into a hiring strategy?