Of all the demos at this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt, Scoutible’s mobile game for replacing the job interview grabbed my attention. Some of the surrounding demos seemed like awesome tech solutions in search of a problem to solve, but, come on, what doesn’t suck about job interviews? Who wouldn’t rather play a game?
Job interviews are already a bit of game, but it’s a terrible game where the interviewee pretends like their biggest weakness is that they just work SO HARD, or pretends that they see themselves in five years in a role that shows you’re ambitious but not so ambitious that you’re going to go after the interviewer’s job. Meanwhile, the interviewer is trying to figure out if this person is actually results-driven and detail oriented, or just read that post about including those words on a CV. Also, is this person in interview clothes playing the interview game going to get on well with the team, or will they drive all the current employees crazy?
Mobile game Scoutible is an adventure game that also measures a potential candidate’s skills and abilities. The presenter promised this game would analyze the candidate’s soft skills, including “risk tolerance, emotional intelligence, response to feedback and mental processing speed” (TechCrunch), and would help employers find new hires who would match their existing team’s skills. When I played, it evaluated my abilities in three categories: Hustle, Social, and Bandwidth, with a score for each.
I love applied games and I’m also a sucker for personality analysis, so I was excited to try the free game. In Scoutible, players have mysteriously landed on a desert island, which is probably my favorite type of game…. Monkey Island, Sims: Castaway, MyTribe, Stranded Without A Phone, even Next Island (I’ve spent a fairly significant chunk of time pretending to be stuck on a deserted island). I had really high hopes for Scoutible, I was already imagining a Ready Player One future, where we’d all unlock insights into our personalities and career skills through playing a survival game.
The game is in beta, but even accounting for that, there’s very little gameplay so far. There’s a female avatar, while not particularly aspirational or attractive, she gets full marks for wearing a shirt and pants.
One of the skills assessed is the candidate’s emotional intelligence or interpersonal skills, but the obvious problem to me is that picking the “correct” dialogue option in an game isn’t at all the same skill as dealing with clients and coworkers’ emotional states. Noting the differences between humans and NPCs is a major part of applied emotional intelligence.
When I was interacting with Scoutible’s few NPCs, I was given the sort of black-and-white options we always try to avoid in game development. One NPC failed to do what the boss NPC asked him for — do you scold him, or do the task yourself? Then do you complain about his laziness or make excuses for him? I was disappointed by the lack of nuance in any interpersonal interactions. These felt like generic job interview questions with a thin veneer of gameplay over it.
What was most interesting to me was how my feelings on game experimentation and exploration changed because I considered it an evaluation. I’m a huge fan of games like The Silent Age that invite players to experiment freely with the given triggers until they unlock new combinations and solve puzzles. But here, when I encountered what looked like a beta bug (and it’s worth restating that this is a clear and acknowledged beta), I wondered if it was actually a meta-test of my personality. What if I’m supposed to skip the lava puzzle to show that I don’t waste my time making buggy software work? No, wait, what if I’m supposed to keep trying to show I can stick to difficult tasks? What if I go back to that puzzle to get a screenshot and the game analyzes me as bad at puzzles? I mean, I signed in with my LinkedIn account! What if my “talent fingerprint” is wrong?
My final ratings, in Scoutible’s three metrics of Hustle, Social and Bandwidth were not entirely how I see myself, but they were pretty flattering. My RPG strategy involves pocketing everything that’s not nailed down, but — employers take note! — that’s not my workplace strategy.
I love the concept of Scoutible so much that I’ll overlook how not-fun the actual beta gameplay was. We’ve seen how behavioral games like SuperBetter can make players more emotionally resilient, help them achieve goals, reduce bad habits, and develop other skills that would make strong candidates. So it’s not that much of a stretch to imagine a game that can analyze the player’s skills and abilities. Scoutible got a pretty big investment on Shark Tank and drew loads of attention at TechCrunch, so I’m pretty sure there’s another evolution coming soon. Maybe one in which players could be recruited to jobs based on what their virtual robot-fixing skills say about their professional skills.