I am trying to fill animated balloons with water without them bursting. I watch my laptop screen with laser focus, rapping the space bar as soon as a green dot appears. I weigh how much money to trade with an imaginary partner in a scenario akin to the prisoner’s dilemma. This is all in service of finding me a job.
It hasn’t just been me. This is the exact process that about a million applicants have followed to apply for positions at companies like Tesla, LinkedIn and Accenture. The platform that runs these games is Pymetrics, which somewhat whimsically dubs itself as a Hogwarts “sorting hat” for careers. The idea is that its games — measuring 90 “cognitive, social and personality traits” — provide more-objective markers of job compatibility than the traditional CV, cover letter and interview. If you’re rejected from the position you wanted, the system can pair you off with what it deems a better match.
Measuring behavioral traits is a well-established recruitment tool, perhaps first encountered with high school RIASEC tests. Establishing these traits through games, however, is newer. The idea is that where applicants filling out a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator survey for a job might second-guess what the employer wants, their performance in a game doesn’t lie or embellish.
“If I wanted to figure out how much you weigh, I could ask you,” said Frida Polli, Pymetrics’ CEO and co-founder. “You might not know. You might not want to tell me. You might have changed since the last time you got on the scale. But if I just put you on a scale, it’s going to tell me.”