Faye Holland, HR Tech World and #disruptHRtech blogger interviews Robert Newry – Managing Director of Arctic Shores, a start-up bringing psychometric science and games technology together to help attract and retain candidates.
FAYE: Who is Arctic Shores and what do you do?
ROBERT: We are a 19-month young start-up based in Manchester and we’ve probably combined the two most contrasting disciplines you can find; psychometric science and games technology. We make games-based psychometric assessments of personality, cognitive abilities and aptitude that enable organisations to attract and identify the best candidates from all backgrounds in a fun and fair way. The psychometric games are best suited for organisations with early career programmes that range from apprenticeships to graduate recruitment.
FAYE: Tell me a little about the team?
ROBERT: Finding a synergy between the rigour of science and engagement of gaming has only been achievable by having a team of in-house experts collaborating on a daily basis. We have a highly diverse team of psychologists, game designers, web developers and artists. The psychologists dive deep into research across neuroscience and applied psychology to find cognitive tasks that reliably predict personality traits. The artists and game developers transform these tasks into immersive mobile games while the web developers fine tune the metrics and user interface for recruiters. This is an iterative process full of trail and error but our agile strategy, working in 2 week sprints, ensures we can react to the needs of each individual client.
FAYE: What made this year the right time for you to take part in disruptHRTech and what would you like to achieve as a result of your participation?
ROBERT: 2015 was a great year for us, we successfully achieved Proof of Concept with our first psychometric game, Firefly Freedom; received the Design in Innovation Award at Innovate UK and landed our first major clients in Deloitte, Standard Life and Clifford Chance. We want to keep pushing forward with the launch of our second personality profiling game Cosmic Cadet and brand new games-based aptitude assessment; YellowHook Reef. Being able to showcase to the huge audience at disruptHRtech is the best way for us to maintain our momentum around the time when graduate recruiters are starting to make decisions about the solutions they need. Across the two days we’re aiming to raise awareness about the future of psychometrics, get organisations booked on free pilots and connect with investors.
FAYE: Understanding the next generation of employees is becoming more and more relevant so talk me through a little bit more how your psychometric games can help companies to attract and identify the right candidates?
ROBERT: Graduate recruiters are facing an average of 65 applicants per vacancy meaning that aptitude testing and personality assessment have never been so important to identify potential. However, these traditional tests come with some baggage. Psychometric games overcome the problems with self-report distortion and allow for a more objective assessment of personality because the traits under examination are not completely obvious. In terms of aptitude testing the challenge of improving social mobility remains a major concern and as organisations seek to address the gender imbalance in the workplace, a new approach is needed to allow all groups to perform to their true capabilities. Higher socio-economic groups have greater access to practice current psychometric tests and research shows that text anxiety can significantly reduce performance with women tending to be the worst affected. Games-based assessments provide a solution as they are more popular with lower SES groups and 70% of students find them less stressful (see evidence).
FAYE: Staying with graduates and apprenticeships, could you tell me a little more about the “millennial generation hungry for a more technologically driven approach”?
ROBERT: Games-based psychometric assessments aren’t suitable for everyone, that’s why we focus on engaging the most relevant demographic. There is a huge demand for change from Millennials; 80% are frustrated with the current application process which leads to a third abandoning applications. The new generation of talent entering the workplace require new approaches to attraction and selection – ones that are mobile based, engaging, personal and data driven. After all, the average western Millennial will have spent 10,000 hours playing video games by the time they reach 21. Early careers recruitment has hardly changed over the years and urgently needs to adapt especially with the apprenticeship levy around the corner. Psychometric games are the answer that will resonate with young talent, so we’ll focus on them first.
FAYE: Could you give some examples of how your customers would use your service and what kinds of benefits will they achieve?
ROBERT: Deloitte recently introduced Firefly Freedom to help find high potential apprentices who may not necessarily stand out through traditional means of assessment but still have the skills they need. They aimed to access a more diverse pool of talent, whilst also contributing to the societal challenge of improving social mobility. A specific success story involved a student who participated in ACESS, Deloitte’s work experience programme for students from less privileged backgrounds. The student measured one of the highest scores ever seen for the potential to solve problems and innovate. Overall the project was a huge success as it also reduced application abandonment from 20% to 2% displaying how influential the power of gaming is at engaging candidates in the recruitment process. There’s a similar story to tell from Standard Life’s Edinburgh guarantee scheme where their applicants raved about their experience with both the game and feedback reports.
FAYE: So from these examples alone, data features heavily in your solution. How do you select and report on the data you obtain from the games?
ROBERT: The games capture a substantial amount of data; each session generates over 3,000 data points, so the real power at Arctic Shores comes from the web application we have developed to analyse the gameplay. The DataHub uses machine learning and proprietary statistical algorithms to combine data into meaningful psychological constructs. In terms of output, our most valuable insight is the fit score; the match between a candidate’s profile and the traits required for success at the job, department and organisational level. The interactive tools in the DataHub act as the main interface recruiters use to efficiently select the desired few candidates to take forward. Here managers can download informative reports for themselves and candidates. The management report includes all the need to know information to help recruiters make an informed selection decision and the candidate feedback report is imperative for protecting Employer Brand Value given that most applicants will be turned away.
FAYE: Who else is out there giving you a run for your money? And how do you differentiate yourself?
ROBERT: Although we are the only games-based assessments provider in Europe several external organisations have also realised its potential. The key differentiators are the platform(s) used to deliver the games, whether they are used for attraction or selection, the quality of the in-game experience and the transparency of the scientific validation. The science comes first at Arctic Shores; we are in collaboration with several of the top universities in the UK and have followed BPS guidelines when producing our audited technical manuals. Creating an immersive psychometric game is no mean feat but our assessments stand out for their engaging storyline, high quality graphics and responsive controls that allow candidates to forget that they are being assessed. Finally, our keen focus on user experience means that customers see a smooth transition when moving to games-based assessments. We integrate with Applicant Tracking Systems and the DataHub is also geared up to fully administrate the initial candidate sift for organisations without ATS.
For more information on Arctic Shores check out these links and resources
Twitter: @arctic_shores https://twitter.com/arctic_shores