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Abstract

Our study explores the validity of a game-based assessment method assessing candidates’ soft skills. Using self-reported measures of performance, (job performance, Organizational Citizenship Behaviors (OCBs), and Great Point Average (GPA), we examined the criterion-related and incremental validity of a game-based assessment, above and beyond the effect of cognitive ability and personality. Our findings indicate that a game-based assessment measuring soft skills (adaptability, flexibility, resilience and decision making) can predict self-reported job and academic performance. Moreover, a game-based assessment can predict academic performance above and beyond personality and cognitive ability tests. The effectiveness of gamification in personnel selection is discussed along with research and practical implications introducing recruiters and HR professionals to an innovative selection technique.
The Spanish Journal of Psychology (2019), 22, e6, 1–10.
© Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos de Madrid
doi:10.1017/sjp.2019.5
In order to gain a competitive advantage and make a
profit from their activities, organizations need a good
strategy. But to gain a sustainable competitive advan-
tage, that can last a long time and should not be easily
imitated by competitors; organizations must have the
people resources in place to successfully implement
the strategy. Along these lines, the need to screen out
talented prospective employees possessing the required
skills to fit the job and meet the performance standards
is apparent for every business. Traditional selection
methods, such as general mental ability and personality
tests, predict job performance to some extent (Ryan &
Ployhart, 2014). A number of researchers have recently
suggested that the use of gamification in personnel
selection, such as game-based assessments, might pre-
dict job performance beyond traditional selection
methods (e.g., Armstrong, Landers, & Collmus, 2016;
Fetzer, Mcnamara, & Geimer, 2017). Game-based assess-
ments is a new assessment method incorporating game
elements in employee selection and is lately widely
applied in personnel selection practice, raising ques-
tions about its ability to predict job performance. To
the best of our knowledge, no published empirical
research has established the effectiveness of game-
based assessments in the employee selection process.
Our study is designed to examine the potential of a
game-based assessment in predicting a number of
performance measures. Specifically, we test the
relationship between a game-based assessment and
performance criteria (e.g., perceived job performance,
Grade Point Average-GPA, perceived Organizational
Citizenship Behavior-OCB) to explore its criterion
related validity. We also explore the extent to which a
game-based assessment predicts performance beyond
traditional selection methods (personality measures
and cognitive ability).
Traditional selection tests and performance
Cognitive ability and personality tests are widely used
nowadays by organizations in an effort to predict
future work performance. Several studies and meta-
analyses support not only the validity of cognitive
ability and personality tests but also their effective
combination in predicting job performance (Schmitt,
2014). Cognitive ability tests measure the levels of gen-
eral cognitive ability or intelligence, as well as aspects
of it (e.g., numerical, verbal, abstract, and spatial
ability). Meta-analytic findings indicate that both gen-
eral cognitive ability and specific cognitive abilities
predict successfully performance and work-related
outcomes (e.g. Ones, Dilchert, & Viswesvaran, 2012).
Moreover, cognitive ability is supported to be the
single best predictor of performance at work, as well
as, of performance outcomes in the majority of job
positions and situations (Schmitt, 2014). As far as
personality is concerned, the most popular personality
Exploring the Relationship of a Gamified
Assessment with Performance
Ioannis Nikolaou, Konstantina Georgiou and Vasiliki Kotsasarlidou
Athens University of Economics and Business (Greece)
Abstract. Our study explores the validity of a game-based assessment method assessing candidates’ soft skills. Using
self-reported measures of performance, (job performance, Organizational Citizenship Behaviors (OCBs), and Great
Point Average (GPA), we examined the criterion-related and incremental validity of a game-based assessment, above
and beyond the effect of cognitive ability and personality. Our findings indicate that a game-based assessment mea-
suring soft skills (adaptability, flexibility, resilience and decision making) can predict self-reported job and academic
performance. Moreover, a game-based assessment can predict academic performance above and beyond personality
and cognitive ability tests. The effectiveness of gamification in personnel selection is discussed along with research and
practical implications introducing recruiters and HR professionals to an innovative selection technique.
Received 30 April 2018; Revised 31 October 2018; Accepted 3 November 2018
Keywords: academic performance, game-based assessments, job performance, selection methods.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to
Ioannis Nikolaou. Athens University of Economics and Business.
Department of Management Science and Technology. 104 34 Athens
(Greece).
E-mail: inikol@aueb.gr
How to cite this article:
Nikolaou, I., Georgiou, K., & Kotsasarlidou, V. (2018). Exploring
the relationship of a game-based assessment with performance.
The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 21. e6. Doi:10.1017/SJP.2019.5
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2 Nikolaou et al.
model is the five-factor model of personality (FFM)
studied extensively in diverse countries and cultures
around the world. The predictive validity of at least
two key factors of the FFM (especially conscientious-
ness but also neuroticism) has been well established
across different job positions and organizations,
whereas, meta-analytic findings (Barrick, Mount, &
Judge, 2001) have also supported the predicted valid-
ity of most personality dimensions of the FFM.
In the performance domain we often study crite-
rion measures, such as academic attainment and
OCB, apart from job performance. OCBs or extra-
role performance are defined as the voluntary and
non-mandatory employee behaviors that positively
influence organizational effectiveness and contribute
to the overall productivity of the organization (Smith,
Organ, & Near, 1983). Both emotional and cognitive
intelligence have been found to be related to organiza-
tional citizenship behaviors (e.g., Cote & Miners, 2006).
Whereas, personality traits, such as agreeableness and
conscientiousness, have been found to predict OCB as
well (e.g., Chiaburu, Oh, Berry, Li & Gardner, 2011).
Similarly, academic performance has been found to be
significantly predicted by personality and cognitive
ability. Academic performance is usually measured
with student grades or grade point average-GPA,
which is supported to predict performance at work
(Roth, BeVier, Switzer, & Schippmann, 1996). A number
of meta-analytic studies exploring the relationship
between personality and academic performance sup-
ported that agreeableness, conscientiousness and
openness to experience, as well as intelligence, predict
academic performance (Poropat, 2009; Strenze, 2007).
The relationship between cognitive ability and aca-
demic performance is also well established (Chamorro-
Premuzic & Furnham, 2008). “Academic performance has
been the criterion for validating IQ tests for over a century,
and one would hardly refer to these tests as “intelligence”
measures if they did not correlate with academic perfor-
mance” (Chamorro-Premuzic & Furnham, 2008, p. 1597).
It is worth reporting that both general cognitive ability
and specific cognitive abilities (working memory, pro-
cessing speed, spatial ability) can predict academic
performance whereas, specific cognitive abilities can
predict academic performance beyond general cogni-
tive ability (Rohde & Thompson, 2007).
To sum up, there is a large body of research which
indicates general mental ability and personality tests
as important predictors of performance. However,
traditional selection methods, such as personality tests,
predict job performance to some extent, whereas,
they are prone to faking and social desirability
(e.g., Morgeson et al., 2007; Ryan & Ployhart, 2014).
Phenomena, that the application of gamification in
employee testing might restrain increasing thus the
assessment’s predictive validity and utility in practise.
Moreover, the advent of technology has started to
render traditional selection methods obsolete, paving
the way for more technologically advanced methods
capable to reduce the cost of hiring and improve appli-
cant reactions.
Game-based assessment methods and performance
Gamification, the application of game-design ele-
ments in non-game contexts (Armstrong et al., 2016),
has recently caught the attention of researchers and
practitioners in Work/Organizational Psychology and
Human Resources Management, as a promising tool in
employee selection. Employee testing methods have
started to incorporate game elements and designs
turning into assessments that are likely to be more
fun and attractive to candidates, as well as more diffi-
cult to fake (Armstrong et al., 2016). The addition of
game elements into the assessments might render the
assessments more difficult for candidates to decode
and identify what the correct answer is, as personality
traits or intentions and behaviors are assessed indi-
rectly. For example, in a gamified Situational Judgement
Test (SJT) the clothing of the scenarios and answers
with game elements might make the desirable behav-
iors less obvious to candidates and as a result, more
difficult to distort intentionally or unintentionally
what their reactions would be in a given situation as it
is away from real life situations.
Moreover, building on the concept of “stealth assess-
ment”, Fetzer et al. (2017) highlighted the potential
of game-based assessments in predicting job perfor-
mance. Stealth assessments can accurately and effi-
ciently diagnose the level of students’ competencies
by extracting continuously performance data that are
gathered during the course of playing/learning (Shute,
Ventura, Bauer, & Zapata-Rivera, 2009). In other words,
stealth assessment is an assessment that is “seamlessly
woven into the fabric of the learning or gaming environment
so that it’s virtually invisible…reducing thus test anxiety
while not sacrificing validity and consistency” (Shute,
2015, p. 63). Along these lines, a gamified assessment
environment might distract candidates from the fact
that they are assessed, reducing test anxiety and pro-
moting behaviors that are more likely to appear uncon-
sciously instead of the desirable or socially acceptable
ones. Game engagement and the use of contexts diag-
nosing how an individual handled a given problem –
similar to work-sampling techniques - might lead to
more robust inferences about performance than tradi-
tional selection inventories that rely on self-reported
measures (Fetzer et al., 2017). Taking into consideration
all the evidence mentioned above, we aim to explore
the effectiveness of the game-based assessment method
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Game-based Assessment in Selection 3
measuring four soft skills (i.e., resilience, adaptability,
flexibility, and decision-making) by testing whether its
dimensions are related to performance measures over
and above traditional selection measures.
A major challenge that employers nowadays face
when hiring young graduates is the lack of applicants
with the right skills and competencies (Picchi, 2016,
August 31). Among the most desirable soft skills that
employers are looking for are adaptability, flexi-
bility, decision-making, and resilience (e.g., Gray, 2016;
McKinsey & Company, 2017). Resilience, the ability to
bounce back from adversities (Luthans, 2002), might
be vital for both personal and job effectiveness with
numerous positive outcomes in work and academic
settings. For example, resilient individuals are likely to
have higher levels of job performance, job satisfaction
and organizational commitment (e.g., Avey, Reichard,
Luthans, & Mhatre, 2011), as well as, OCB (Paul, Bamel,
& Garg, 2016). Moreover, students with higher levels
of resilience are likely to demonstrate increased aca-
demic performance levels, as well as higher class
participation, enjoyment and self-esteem (Martin &
Marsh, 2006, 2008). Similarly, adaptability, the “response
or people’s adjustment to changing environmental situa-
tions” (Hamtiaux, Houssemand, & Vrignaud, 2013,
p. 130) has positive outcomes in both academic and
work contexts. For example, successful students (GPA
of 80% or more) were found to have high levels of
interpersonal, adaptability, and stress management
skills (Parker et al., 2004). Moreover, high adaptability
is related to positive relationships and behaviors in
school, such as studying, leadership, and reduced
school problems (Brackett, Rivers, Reyes, & Salovey,
2012). In the work context, adaptability is important
in performing well, handling ambiguity, and dealing
with uncertainty and stress (Kehoe, 2000). Whereas,
volunteering to help co-workers (an aspect of OCB) might
require one to adapt to changing co-worker behaviour
(Ployhart & Bliese, 2006, p. 11). Similarly to adapt-
ability, flexibility, defined as the individual’s capacity
to adapt, is likely to have positive outcomes in work,
academic and job seeking settings (Golden & Powell,
2000). Individuals with high levels of flexibility are
able to address different situations creating thus value
to organizations instead of harming them because of
their inability to adjust in changes (Bhattacharya,
Gibson, & Doty, 2005). Moreover, OCB performers are
likely to increase their flexibility in order to adjust to
the requirements of various roles and settings at work
displaying thus behaviors that contribute to organiza-
tional effectiveness (Kwan & Mao, 2011). Organizational
success, especially in changing environments, depends
also largely on effective decision-making, defined as
an intellectual process leading to a response to cir-
cumstances through the selection among alternatives
(Nelson, 1984). Employees who are capable of effective
decision-making devote effort to analyze information
to better understand a company’s threats, opportu-
nities and options, consult other people and collabo-
rate together in making decisions and act proactively
in getting the things done, enhancing thus, organiza-
tional performance (Miller & Lee, 2001). Whereas,
participation in decision-making leads to positive
outcomes within educational settings, such as OCB
(Somech, 2010).
Taking into consideration all the evidence men-
tioned above, we aim to establish the effectiveness of
the gamified selection method that we developed by
testing whether the gamified SJT dimensions are related
to performance and in particular, to performance
measures, OCB and GPA, over and above traditional
selection measures (e.g., personality tests, cognitive
ability); therefore, we state the following hypotheses.
H1: Game-based assessment dimensions will be
positive associated with participants’ job perfor-
mance scores.
H2: Game-based assessment dimensions will be
positive associated with participants’ GPA.
H3: Game-based assessment dimensions will be
positive associated with participants’ OCB.
H4: Game-based assessment dimensions will provide
incremental validity above and beyond the effect of
cognitive ability and personality in predicting par-
ticipants’ job performance scores.
H5: Game-based assessment dimensions will provide
incremental validity above and beyond the effect of
cognitive ability and personality in predicting partici-
pants’ GPA.
H6: Game-based assessment dimensions will provide
incremental validity above and beyond the effect of
cognitive ability and personality in predicting partici-
pants’ OCB.
Method
Sample & Procedure
The study was conducted in Greece during the last
months of 2017, attracting participants via the authors’
university career office, along with post-graduate and
final-year undergraduate students or recent graduates.
We contacted final-year undergraduate students, grad-
uate students or recent graduates to participate in a
survey about a selection method, as these students
were approaching graduation and were likely to search
for employment soon (e.g., van Iddekinge, Lanivich,
Roth, & Junco, 2016).
The data collection took place in two phases. In the
first phase, participants were invited to complete the
self-reported measures of cognitive ability, personality,
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4 Nikolaou et al.
performance measures and OCB. Three to four weeks
after completion, participating individuals of the first
phase were invited to play the game-based assessment.
193 participants took part in the first phase and 120 of
them participated in the second phase, as well, a
response rate of 62%. The majority of them were
females (64%) with a mean age of 26 years. As far as
their education level is concerned, 46% of the partic-
ipants were final year undergraduates, 15% were
post-graduate students, another 15% were univer-
sity graduates and 24% had already acquired a post-
graduate degree. Most of them (55%) were currently
employed, working in entry-level (57.5%) or middle-
level positions (27.5%).
Measures
Cognitive ability. This was measured with items taken
from the International Cognitive Ability Resource
(ICAR) (2014),1. ICAR is a public-domain and open-
source tool created by Condon and Revelle (2014), aim-
ing to provide a large and dynamic bank of cognitive
ability measures for use in a wide variety of applica-
tions, including research. The test includes four item
types: Three-Dimensional Rotations, Letter and Number
Series, Matrix Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning. We
used the 11 Matrix Reasoning items, which contain
stimuli similar to those used in Raven’s Progressive
Matrices, and which is also more closely related to
abstract reasoning. “The stimuli are 3x3 arrays of geo-
metric shapes with one of the nine shapes missing.
Participants are instructed to identify which of six
geometric shapes presented as response choices will
best complete the stimuli” (ICAR, 2014, p. 2).2 It is
worth noting that the correct answer is only one,
whereas the options “None of the above” and “Do not
know” are also available. An overall score is calcu-
lated, with high scores indicating higher levels of
cognitive ability3.
Personality. Participants completed the 50 items
International Personality Item Pool (IPIP; Goldberg
et al., 2006) to assess the Five-Factor model of
personality. Each scale consisted of 10 items. Standard
IPIP instructions were presented to participants, who
responded on a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from
1 (inaccurate) to 5 (accurate). Research has reported
good internal consistencies for IPIP factors (see, for
example, Lim & Ployhart, 2006). In our study, reli-
ability estimates were .81 for conscientiousness, .83 for
emotional stability, .83 for extroversion, .79 for agree-
ableness, and .75 for openness to experience.
Performance measures. Overall job performance was
self-evaluated by working individuals only using a
measure used by Nikolaou and Robertson (2001). It
consists of six items where the individual has to indi-
cate whether she/he agrees or disagrees with the
behavior described in a five-point scale ranging from 1
(strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). An overall job
performance score was calculated by averaging the
scores of the six items eliciting internal consistency
reliability of .91. Example items include “Achieve the
objectives of the job” and “Demonstrates expertise in all
aspects of the job”. We also asked participants to indicate
their GPA from their first degree in order to use it as an
alternative to job performance for non-working indi-
viduals. The range of the grading system in Greek
public universities is 0.00–10.00 (Excellent = 8.50–10.00,
Very Good = 6.5–8.49, Good = 5.00 –6.49, and Fail =
0.00–4.59). The GPA reported by participants was the
average grade awarded for the duration of their bach-
elor studies.
Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB). OCBs were
self-evaluated by working individuals only using a
measure developed by Smith et al. (1983). It consists of
16 items where the individual has to indicate whether
she/he agrees or disagrees with the behavior described
in a five-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to
5 (strongly agree). The original scale measures two sub-
scales; altruism and generalized compliance. However,
for the purposes of the current study we only used the
overall OCB score eliciting internal consistency reli-
ability of .70. Example items include “I help other
employees with their work when they have been absent” and
I exhibit punctuality in arriving at work on time in the
morning and after lunch breaks”.
Soft skills. We used a Game-Based Assessment (GBA)
developed by Owiwi4 in order to measure the four soft
skills evaluated by the game, namely resilience, adapt-
ability, flexibility and decision-making. The four skills
are evaluated following a SJT methodology converted
into an on-line game environment, with fictional char-
acters. The Owiwi game has demonstrated satisfactory
psychometric elements and increased equivalence
with the originally developed SJT measuring the
four soft skills (Georgiou, Nikolaou, & Gouras, 2017).
Resilience is defined as “the developable capacity to
rebound or bounce back from adversity, conflict, and failure
or even positive events, progress, and increased responsi-
bility” (Luthans, 2002, p. 702), “Αdaptability is related to
change and how people deal with it; that is to say, people’s
adjustment to changing environments” (Hamtiaux et al.,
2013, p. 130). Flexibility is defined as the demonstra-
tion of “adaptable as opposed to routine behaviors; it is the
extent to which employees possess a broad repertoire of
1.http://icar-project.com/
2.https://icar-project.com/ICAR_Catalogue.pdf
3.For an example item visit https://icar-project.com/ICAR_
Catalogue.pdf 4.www.owiwi.co.uk
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Game-based Assessment in Selection 5
behavioral scripts that can be adapted to situation-specific
demands” (Bhattacharya et al., 2005, p. 624) and finally
decision-making is defined as an intellectual process
leading to a response to circumstances through selec-
tion among alternatives (Nelson, 1984). Individualized
feedback is provided to all participants upon comple-
tion of the game.
Results
Table 1 presents the inter-correlation matrix of the
study’s variables. An interesting pattern we observe in
the inter-correlation matrix, is that the cognitive ability
measure is not associated with any of the scales mea-
sured here. Also, the self-reported job performance
measure is correlated significantly with conscientious-
ness, emotional stability and openness to experience
for the five-factor model of personality. Moreover, the
OCB measure is associated with agreeableness, simi-
larly to past research on the relationships between
agreeableness and OCB, but not with conscientious-
ness. Finally, the soft skills assessed by the game-based
assessment, which is the main focus of the current
study, are not correlated with any of the criterion mea-
sures, with the exception of the positive correlation
between GPA and decision making, rejecting thus H1
and H3 and only partially confirming H2.
Next, we proceed with the examination of our
research hypotheses. Our main focus in this study is
the suitability of the game-based assessment as a selec-
tion tool, above and beyond the well-established effect
of cognitive ability and personality, especially conscien-
tiousness. Our first three hypotheses deal with the
association between game-based assessment and the
three performance criteria. In order to explore these
hypotheses we executed three separated multiple
regression analyses for each one of the three criterion
measures. The results of these analyses are presented
in Table 2.
The results of the regression analyses show that flex-
ibility and decision-making are positively associated
with self-reported job performance and GPA respec-
tively. The block of the four skills predict 13%, 7% and
10% of the total variance in job performance, OCB and
GPA respectively. Therefore, H1 and H2 are partially
confirmed, whereas H3 is rejected. Subsequently, we
explored the incremental validity of the game-based
assessment. In order to explore H4-H6 we conducted a
number of hierarchical regression analyses, controlling
for the effect of cognitive ability and the five-factor
model of personality. The results of these analyses are
presented in Table 3.
The results of these analyses demonstrate that the
soft skills measured by the game-based assessment
do not predict additional variance in either job per-
formance or OCBs for the working individuals of
our sample, above the effect of cognitive ability and
personality rejecting thus H4 and H6. However, they
seem to have an important effect on GPA. More specif-
ically, both as a group and separately (adaptability and
decision making) demonstrate a statistical significant
relationship with GPA, above and beyond the effect of
cognitive ability and personality. These results estab-
lish the usefulness of game-based assessments in pre-
dicting educational attainment, as measured by the
GPA, both as a group and individually in the case of
adaptability and decision making.
Discussion
Our study explores the effectiveness of a game-based
assessment in employee selection. Extending previous
Table 1. Inter-Correlation Matrix of Study’s Variables (N = 63–120)
Scales Range
x
SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
1. Cognitive ability 11 7.69 2.33
2. Extroversion 36 34.07 7.87 –.03
3. Agreeableness 25 42.05 5.32 .08 .47**
4. Conscientiousness 35 38.42 7.10 –.05 –.16 .00
5. Emotional Stability 33 29.15 7.67 .07 .20* .14 .21*
6. Openness to experience 29 36.78 6.07 .40 .16 .20* .04 –.05
7. Resilience 58 76.35 11.85 .10 .04 .11 .14 .31 .32**
8. Flexibility 58 64.98 12.71 .05 –.03 . 11 .07 .13 –.02 .20*
9. Adaptability 81 74.57 11.60 .03 .01 .07 –.12 –.09 .08 .40** .26**
10. Decision-making 46 76.42 9.49 –.00 .05 .12 .08 .12 –.03 .23* .03 .20*
11. Job Performance 14 26.21 3.07 .13 .04 .16 .40** .26* .32** .13 .22 –.07 .13
12. OCB 38 64.77 6.78 .05 .22 .39** .14 .19 .05 –.14 –.03 –.18 .12 .26*
13. GPA 3.1 7.39 0.72 .03 –.06 –.11 .13 –.03 .00 –.02 .08 –.18 .25** –.02 .07
14. Age 25 26.36 6.21 .07 –.18* .03 .11 –.04 .10 .12 .19* .11 –.12 .22 –.07 –.04
Note: *p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
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6 Nikolaou et al.
research on Work/Organizational Psychology and tra-
ditional selection methods, we introduce a game-based
assessment designed to measure candidates’ soft skills
(e.g., adaptability, flexibility, decision-making) that is
found to be associated with self-reported measures of
performance. Our study contributes to employee selec-
tion research, providing some support to the use of
gamification in soft skills assessments and their ability
to predict performance in work and academic settings.
For example, a game-based assessment measuring
soft skills, such as decision-making and flexibility, can
predict test-takers’ self-reported job performance and
GPA. By incorporating game elements into assess-
ments that do not use self-reported measures, but
assess behavioral intentions, test-takers’ attractive-
ness and engagement into the assessment might be
enhanced, while it might be more difficult for them to
understand what is being assessed and what the cor-
rect answer is (Armstrong et al., 2016; Fetzer et al.,
2017). As such, the use of game elements and designs
might improve the validity of assessments.
Moreover, Armstrong et al. (2016) suggested that
game-based assessments, such as gamified simula-
tions, might be employed to assess important pre-
dictor constructs like learning agility in employee
selection settings where survey methodology may
not be adequate. Along these lines, our study extends
research on traditional selection methods, exploring
the incremental validity of a game-based assessment
assessing soft skills. Game-based assessments mea-
suring soft skills, such as adaptability and decision
making, can predict academic performance (e.g., GPA),
above and beyond traditional selection methods (e.g.,
cognitive ability and personality tests). However, the
soft skills measured by the game-based assessment do
not predict additional variance in either job perfor-
mance or OCBs, above the effect of cognitive ability
and personality.
To sum up, both personality and intelligent tests
have been extensively tested in academic contexts and
their validity in predicting GPA has been established.
The emergence of internet and technology as well as
Table 2. Hierarchical Regression Analysis of the GBA on the Three Criterion Measures
Job Performance (N = 63) OCB (n = 63) GPA (N = 113)
GBAs ΒtΔR2ΔFβtΔR2ΔFβtΔR2ΔF
Resilience .14 .94 .13 2.10 –.12 –.79 .07 1.10 –.16 –1.58 .10 3.06
Flexibility .30* 2.20 .08 .58 .06 .58
Adaptability –.28 –1.85 –.18 1.14 .18 1.76
Decision making .17 1.29 .20 1.47 .25** 2.61
Note: OCB = Organizational Citizenship Behavior; GPA = Great Point Average.
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
Table 3. Hierarchical Regression Analysis of the GBA on the Three Criterion Measures controlling for Cognitive Ability and Personality
Job Performance (N = 63) OCB (n = 63) GPA (N = 113)
Predictors βtΔR2ΔFβtΔR2ΔFβtΔR2ΔF
Step 1
Cognitive ability .04 .30 .26 332.** .01 .10 .20 2.33* .09 .92 .04 .70
Extroversion –.05 –.30 .09 .55 .08 .77
Agreeableness .08 .53 .35* 2.27 –.20 –1.86
Conscientiousness .28* 2.07 .18 1.26 .18 1.83
Emotional Stability .06 .44 .08 .60 –.07 –.73
Openness to experience .30** 2.44 .02 .12 .02 .20
Step 2
Resilience –.02 –.15 .06 1.11 –.17 –1.05 .03 .57 –.20 –1.84 .12 3.73**
Flexibility .26 1.9 –.03 –.24 .07 .71
Adaptability –.19 –1.30 –.04 –.23 .22* 2.07
Decision making .16 1.15 .03 .19 .26s 2.73
Note: OCB = Organizational Citizenship Behavior; GPA = Great Point Average.
*p < .05 **p < .01. ***p < .001.
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Game-based Assessment in Selection 7
the familiarity of new generations with games are
likely to reflect an increasing interest in the validity of
game-based assessments in predicting academic per-
formance beyond traditional selection methods. The
additive value of using a game-based assessment mea-
suring adaptability and decision making, both as a
group and individually, in predicting GPA beyond
personality (e.g., FFM) and cognitive ability tests (e.g.,
ICAR), has been established.
Our results are of interest to researchers and prac-
titioners of Work/Organizational Psychology interested
in the prediction of work and academic performance,
in that they support the incremental validity of a
game-based assessment over and above traditional
selection methods. They contribute to empirical
unknowns about the psychometrics properties and
effectiveness of the use of game-based assessments
in employee selection.
Game-based assessments might be used as a sup-
plement or replacement tool to traditional selection
methods as they add to the prediction of perfor-
mance of candidates or students. However, it is of high
importance to test the effectiveness of game-based assess-
ments using objective measures of performance, such
as supervisor’s ratings, and a test-retest reliability
methodology to establish further the psychometric
properties of the new assessment method. Moreover,
similar to SJTs, game-based assessments might improve
the information gathered about applicants during
the selection process as well as applicant reactions
(Armstrong et al., 2016). Gamification might increase
engagement levels which in turn might lead to reten-
tion and motivation during the process of selection
as well as better predictions about person-job fit
(e.g., Chamorro-Premuzic, Akhtar, Winsborough, &
Sherman, 2017). Using new technologies and game el-
ements in assessments, recruiters and HR professionals
might improve selection decisions making more robust
inferences about their performance as game-based
assessments do not use self-reported measures that
applicants are likely to fake (Fetzer et al., 2017).
Another reason that the use of traditional selection
methods might be reconsidered and replaced by new
game based tools is that the latter are popular among
younger generations. Organizations including game-
based assessments into the employee selection process
might provide a new technologically advanced experi-
ence to applicants sending thus signals about organi-
zational attributes (e.g., innovation) and making the
process more fun.
The present study is not without limitations. First
of all, performance outcomes were assessed via self-
report measures. Although it is suggested that objec-
tive measures are the best indicators of individual
employee performance, the unavailability of such
measurements has forced many previous studies to
use self-reported measures of performance (Pransky
et al., 2006). The use of objective measures or supervi-
sor’s report of employee’ performance would lead to
more robust findings about the predictive validity of
the game-based assessment. Also, some of the GBA’s
dimensions were not found to predict performance.
One reason might be the use of self-reported mea-
sures of performance. “It is likely that self-report and
objective measures provide information on distinct, dif-
ferent aspects of work performance. Objective measures,
even in jobs that are apparently routine and straightfor-
ward, can present challenging levels of complexity, and
may provide an estimation of only one dimension of actual
job performance.” (Pransky et al., 2006, p. 396). Future
research should explore the ability of the GBA to
predict one dimension of performance (e.g., resil-
ience or adaptability) using supervisory ratings or
objective performance data.
To establish further the effectiveness of the use of
gamification in employee selection, future research
should also explore applicants’ reactions. For example,
candidates perceive multimedia tests as more valid
and enjoyable and as a result, they are more satisfied
with the selection process while organizational attrac-
tiveness and positive behavioral intentions are
increased (Oostrom, Born, & van der Molen, 2013). The
impact of game-based assessments on perceived fair-
ness, organizational attractiveness and job pursuit
behaviors should also be investigated to support fur-
ther their suitability in the selection process. Also,
the current study does not address competence and
previous experience with technology, which might
influence test-takers’ performance. For example,
candidates who have experience with on-line games
and/or feel competent to use new technology might
have less anxiety when new technology is used (Cascio
& Montealegre, 2016), and as a result, perform better in
a game-based assessment. In general, the limited
knowledge and lack of empirical research on the use of
gamification in employee selection has made the estab-
lishment of a game-based assessment as an effective
selection method even more challenging.
Future research should also explore the role of
demographic variables on individuals’ performance in
game-based assessments. Instead of using demographic
variables simply as mere control variables in theory
testing, Spector and Brannick (2011) suggest to rethink
the use of demographics in the first place focusing on the
mechanisms that explain relations with demographics
rather than on the demographic variables that serve as
proxies for the real variables of interest.
Finally, the study might suffer from common method
variance effects, since we only used self-reported mea-
sures. In order to reduce its effect, we asked the
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8 Nikolaou et al.
participants to complete the measures in two separate
occurrences. Moreover, the Harman’s single factor test
we conducted following the guidelines of Podsakoff,
Mackenzie, Lee, and Podsakoff (2003) discouraged the
impact of common method variance on our results.
Game-based assessments have recently appeared
in employee selection calling for further research on
their validity. Our study contributes to research on
employee selection methods by examining the crite-
rion related validity of a game-based assessment mea-
suring soft skills. Findings of our study indicate that
assessments incorporating game elements might pre-
dict self-rated job performance, and academic per-
formance, as measured by GPA. Moreover, exploring
the incremental validity of the game-based assessment
method, we provided evidence that it can predict GPA
above and beyond the effect of traditional selection
methods, such as personality and cognitive ability tests.
These results could change the way organizations and
colleges approach traditional assessment methods
making the use of gamification in work and academic
contexts more widespread in the future.
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... However, some researchers have argued that self-report measures may tend to have lower construct validities due to contaminants such as faking or other forms of social desirability, and thus they have called for alternatives to self-report measures of personality that might prevent faking and improve construct validity (Morgeson et al., 2007). By measuring behavioral aspects of personality, GBAs reflect one alternative that offers this promise (Armstrong et al., 2016;Nikolaou et al., 2019). However, it is important to note that GBAs are not monolithic; in fact, one could create an infinite number of possible GBAs, because GBAs are a method, not a construct (Arthur & Villado, 2008;Landers, 2019). ...
... Moreover, if organizations use GBAs to hire employees, the goal of validly measuring job-relevant constructs must be satisfied. Although our goal was to simply demonstrate if GBAs can be used to measure personality and not explicitly whether they can be used for personnel selection purposes, similar GBAs do have the potential to be used in those settings(Armstrong et al., 2016;Nikolaou et al., 2019), especially if they are modified to reflect a workplace setting. For example, if a particular job requires extensive teamwork and effective soft skills, GBAs might include actions that require collaboration or communication with other players and be presumed to measure related personality traits and skills. ...
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... This posits a risk for GAs because in these cases, test scores are conflated and job candidates with little or no prior gaming experience may perceive the use of GAs in a highstakes context as unfair . Therefore, recent studies have called to take the impact of technology usage into account when investigating GAs for personnel selection (e.g., Armstrong et al., 2016;Nikolaou et al., 2019). The present study addressed this concern and found that neither GSST performance nor acceptance were dependent on participants' familiarization and experience with such methods. ...
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