Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Good at Games? Your Next Job Might Depend On It

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BU chapter.

Imagine this: you submit a job application and receive an invitation to play a series of games, with the note that there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. Depending on the company and your results, however, you might get an immediate email rejection. And you probably won’t be able to apply at the same company for a year.

Pymetrics, the titular company behind these games, uses a combination of behavioral science and AI technology to “build the workforce of the future.” Its website touts its ability to increase diversity and efficiency, reduce bias in the hiring process, and prioritize soft skills the way they ought to be prioritized.

The finance world has adopted it pretty widely — JP Morgan, Mastercard, and PwC, for instance, all use Pymetrics in the hiring process. And for many job candidates, it’s added a lot more stress and frustration to the hiring process. A thread in Wall Street Oasis, a popular forum/hub for aspiring finance professionals, is aptly titled “Pymetrics… What the f*ck??” Various commenters attempt to make sense of the algorithm and share what they know, in the form of tidbits like “I’ve networked with ~10 JPM bankers and they all say that it matters…whoever scores in the top 25% of test takers will get a superday.”

Pymetrics’s series of games can be completed in about half an hour, and honestly, I found them to be pretty fun. And though you don’t get a score, the soft skills each game measures are typically transparent. In one game, for instance, you’re tasked with clicking the space bar as fast as you can in a span of time, but the catch is you get to choose between two times and corresponding numbers (e.g. fifty times in twenty seconds or ten times in ten seconds). The harder task results in a greater payoff, naturally, but choosing the easier one tends to be more of a guaranteed win, albeit smaller in quantity.

Other games include identifying the emotions of a series of facial expressions, sometimes on their own and sometimes paired with descriptions, and memorizing a series of numbers and typing them out until you get too many wrong.

I’ll admit, my ambivalence to Pymetrics may partially stem from the fact that my “blackbox” results didn’t result in an instant rejection for me. I hated not getting a numerical score though, and I just wish I could be an HR person for a day and see how I stacked up against their ideal scores. Pymetrics does give you some results, in the form of your three (out of nine) most “unique” categories. Mine were Generosity, Risk Tolerance, and Emotion, and I’m not sure unique means good.

I know my risk tolerance is low, but reading my generosity result stung a little: “You tend to be more focused on achieving your personal goals, as opposed to sharing your resources willingly with others.” Ouch. In my defense, though, I’ve studied game theory in economics, so my decision never to share any money with other players was driven by the academics I’ve experienced. Plus, finance is supposed to be cutthroat, right?

Another kicker is that Pymetrics results are valid for a year, so if you apply to multiple companies that use the software, you’ll just have to do the games once. The other side of that, however, is that if the way you played doesn’t line up with what the employer is looking for, and that employer automatically rejects based on Pymetrics performance, then you won’t be able to apply for a year.

While I’m a sucker for anything behavioral science-inspired, and I genuinely had a fun time playing the games, I agree that it’s just another super stressful hurdle in the job application process, and that instant rejections sting — I won’t even be considered for an interview because of the way I played some games? It’s also just another exhibit of increasing gamification, and the impact of that is up to all of us. But what’s certain is that Pymetrics is here to stay, and you might just receive an invitation next time you apply to a job or internship.

While there’s no way to prepare for it, don’t overthink it, and good luck. 

Want to keep up with HCBU? Make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, check out our Pinterest board, and read our latest Tweets!

Carina is a senior studying Economics + Psychology at Boston University. She is passionate about marketing, Sally Rooney, and caramel lattes.