How innovative interview methods are stealing the best talent!

More companies are recognising the importance of innovative recruitment techniques. Only asking questions, no matter how smart they are, or giving candidates individual tests, does not reveal enough insights into how they will perform within a team.

‘How would you move Mount Fuji?’, an enlightening and enjoyable read by William Poundstone on how the smartest companies select the most creative thinkers, introduced us to the notoriously gruelling interview process used by Microsoft. It presented us with challenging riddles and showed how to find answers through creative and analytical thinking. It sticks mostly to techniques focused on the individual’s ability, working alone, to solve these.

The questions raised are…
How do we test group dynamics?
What if we are not looking for the person with the best creative solutions but the person who can help a team collaborate and find the best solution together?

Some psychometric test attempt to answer this, again trying to conclude without group interaction.
Companies often devise their own methods. A group may have to line up lollipop sticks to cross a room or examine some data together and come to a conclusion. These methods often lack an understanding of how to create scenarios that draw out the characteristics they are hoping to find.

To create a test that reveals more about a candidates nature it needs to consist of at least some of the following:

  • A clear goal only achievable through good communication.
  • Realistic time restrains which, if missed, will cause failure.
  • Unexpected twists and surprises that cause the group to adapt and deviate from their original path.
  • An immersive environment where the candidates drop their guard and begin to act naturally.
  • Pressure points that force individuals to take the lead.
  • A need for decisions making that could directly affect the group’s ability to produce a positive outcome.
  • An overwhelming feeling to disengage from the team due to the concentration needed to complete certain tasks.
  • Information overload that requires a delegation of tasks.

Due to the complex nature of group game design, creating the correct environment and structure to bring to the surface these behaviours, innovative companies are turning to escape games for help. Dyson, Lidl and Nationwide are just a few of the companies who have used escape game style experiences as part of their recruitment process. Despark even created their own specially designed escape game to recruit their IT professionals. They said ‘we decided to build an escape room in our office with a story that immerses the players into a different reality. One that shows how different we are from all the other employers in the sector.’

When choosing an escape game, it is essential to check if these experiences were created with team recruitment in mind. The quality of the games vary massively, and although a lot of companies claim to deliver team building experiences, only a few, like Cluequest in Central London, have a specific recruitment process where the interviewer will get support and professional guidance when using their facilities for this purpose.

Another option that eliminates the need to transport your recruiters and candidates to a facility is to use Outfox the Box, a mobile escape game company. Outfox the Box creates recruitment based escape games at your interview location.
They work with you, before the interview process, to discuss your requirements and provide observation sheets that help you focus on the qualities you would like to recruit.
An experienced game facilitator assists you on the day and guides you through the observation documents enabling you to study each individuals’ performance. They also help you understand group interactions and track their reactions as the game unfolds.
Decisive action triggers have been set up at strategic points in the games. These force the individuals to review the group dynamics and give you the opportunity to observe how each person reacts to each phase. Completing the action produces a feeling of relief, reward and accomplishment and leaves the candidates feeling they enjoyed the experience.
After the game, the candidates complete a short questionnaire to assess their team members and their own performance. The interviewer is given time with the game facilitator to cover any questions they may have.
You gain insights about your candidates which you would not get from any other interview process.

Whether you use an escape game or try and devise your own system to measure an individuals’ ability to make a pressurised decision that benefits the team, it’s becoming clear that only asking questions or giving individual task is no longer a process that delivers adequate information about a candidates’ suitability. When it comes to selecting team players actions do speak louder than words. 

If the idea is king, to stay ahead and create a team that promotes the best ideas, not the best argument, innovative companies need to make sure their recruitment process is revealing the right behaviours. As good employees search for the best company to work for, an exciting interview is something they are beginning to expect and in the case of playing an escape game, even look forward too.


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