Digital Life
8:13 am
Sun December 1, 2013

Could Video Games Be The Next Job Interview?

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 12:09 pm

Job interviews can be awkward affairs. High hopes, jangled nerves, sweaty palms and inflated resumes: How can a candidate convey abilities and personality, and how does an employer learn if a candidate is right for the job, just from one or two conversations?

Guy Halfteck says they can't. Halfteck, founder and CEO of Knack.it, has developed video games that he says provide an accurate representation of a person's skills and potential.

The games solve a "crisis in matching people to the right jobs," he tells Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin. "A game is an experience in which lots of information gets revealed."

One Knack game, Wasabi Waiter, simulates a restaurant in which the player is a server trying to tend needy customers.

"The player has to engage in multiple micro-decisions, think about prioritizing, about [the] sequence of taking actions, about persisting when the game becomes more challenging," he says.

"The game collects all the data points about the entirety of the behavior during the game," Halfteck says. "Then we analyze that data to extract insight into the intellectual and the personal makeup of that person."

Halfteck says playing a video game can be a better representation of who you are and your skill sets than an employer might get in a one-on-one conversation.

"As people, we make many decisions that are biased, whether it's consciously or subconsciously, and we have no good tools to assess and evaluate, let alone predict, what one's potential is," he says.

The games can work across a variety of industries. Halfteck says Wasabi Waiter and other games have been used by the NYU Langone Medical Center, Shell and other companies.

"We've seen that both Wasabi Waiter and the other games we have can very accurately and insightfully gain understanding of what makes someone capable of achieving a high level of success at that particular job," Halfteck says.

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Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Have you ever felt completely hopeless and frustrated when applying for a job? Resumes, cover letters, countless rounds of interviews, we have definitely all been there. Some say the process allows qualified applicants to fall through the cracks.

Guy Halfteck the founder and CEO of a company called Knack.it. And he has developed games to help employers evaluate candidates beyond the traditional measures. He joins us now from our studios in New York.

Guy, thanks so much for being with us.

GUY HALFTECK: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: So one of these games, I actually looked into this, tried to play it. It was simulating kind of a restaurant situation. And the player is taking on the persona of a server and trying to attend to the needs of the customer in a restaurant.

HALFTECK: That's right.

MARTIN: Can you walk me through how that game works and how an employer can use that information, to make a good assessment as to whether or not they want to hire this person?

HALFTECK: Of course. The game is an experience in which lots of information gets revealed. In the context of the game that you just mentioned, "Wasabi Waiter," the player has to engage in multiple micro-decisions, think about prioritizing, about sequence of taking actions, about persisting when the game becomes more challenging. The game collects all the data points about the entirety of the behavior of the player during the game. And then we analyze that data to extract insight into the intellectual and the personal makeup of that person.

MARTIN: So you're saying that playing a videogame can be a better representation of who you are and your skill sets, than actually a one-on-one personal conversation?

HALFTECK: Absolutely. But I think that as people, we make many decisions that are biased, whether it's consciously or subconsciously. And we have no good tools to assess and evaluate and let alone predict what one's potential is. The result is a real crisis in terms of matching people to the right jobs.

MARTIN: So a game like "Wasabi Waiter," is this something that can be useful to employers in a variety of industries?

HALFTECK: The experience we have so far, working with a number of companies, shows that the answer is yes. We have used "Wasabi Waiter" and another game with a number of companies, including the energy company Shell, NYU Medical Center and others. And we've seen that both "Wasabi Waiter" and the other games we have can very accurately and insightfully gain understanding of what makes someone capable of achieving high level of success at that particular job.

MARTIN: Guy Halfteck, he is the CEO and founder of a company called Knack.it. The company is developing games to help employers evaluate job candidates.

Guy, thanks so much for talking with us.

HALFTECK: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.