Online Tests

The pymetrics Online Games (2021)

Why companies have adopted a games based assessment

BCG, PwC, McDonalds, Cisco, Coca-cola and Kantar have all introduced a games element to their process in the last couple of years and it is a trend expected to continue.

For large graduate employers there is always a difficult process of reducing the applicant pool in a fair and unbiased way. Employers do not want to filter out good candidates as good talent is critical to all of these businesses and filtering out candidates purely based on academic backgrounds is not a fair and accurate way of reducing the candidate pool. Academic grades do not take into account contributing factors such as social backgrounds, demographics, wider work experience and extra-curricular activities that all influence personality traits.

There is also strong evidence that a diverse workforce achieves higher results and that unconscious bias has a negative influence on hiring decisions. The games based assessment prides itself on being a method of candidate filtering that is free from bias and totally objective.

The pymetrics games based assessment is an unbiased, scalable way for them to filter their candidate pool down to a manageable number.

Who pymetrics are

pymetrics provide talent screening products to hiring companies including online assessments and interview technology products. They are a US based firm founded in 2013 by two Harvard & MIT trained PhDs that recognised the potential of combining neuroscience with machine learning to recognise high performing candidates from a games based assessment.

They work with some of the world’s largest employers to develop fair, unbiased games to assess candidate personality traits in order for them to filter their pool of applicants to a manageable number.

pymetrics have no influence on the hiring decision or assessment of results during the process and simply supply the technology to the hiring company and present the results back to them.

Traits they are testing

The pymetrics games assessments build a picture of the candidate around 9 personality attributes in 12/16 games:

  • Attention

  • Effort

  • Fairness

  • Decision making

  • Emotion

  • Focus

  • Generosity

  • Learning

  • Risk tolerance

Many companies only use these 12 games in their assessment and therefore only test the 9 personality attributes.

pymetrics also offer an additional 4 games to test two technical skills:

  • Quantitative reasoning

  • Numerical agility

There is not a one-to-one mapping of the games to each of the tested traits. pymetrics use the scores of multiple games to build the candidate profile. 

The games vary in the tasks they require candidates to complete, examples of the tasks included are:

  • Sequences of different size and colour shapes are shown to you on the screen and you are required to tap the screen when certain ones appear

  • Being presented with a pattern on the screen and then moving the available pieces to create a match the pattern in the shortest number of moves possible

  • Perceiving the emotion of a cartoon character based on their facial expression and / or a short contextual sentence

  • Recognising simple pattern irregularities and taping the screen when they appear

  • Recalling sequences of shapes and / or numbers after they are shown one by one on the screen

Why these traits are important

These traits have different values for different companies as factors such as industry, company size, culture etc. all influence what a hiring company values in their graduates.

 

As an example we have considered these traits from the view of Boston Consulting Group (BCG). BCG are a top strategy consulting firm and are proud, high performing analysers that work regular with external clients. This drives a lot of what they value and what they perceive as ‘ideal’ on each of the tested attributes.

Attention - Consultants charge high fees by their clients and therefore expect an equally high standard of work. All work must therefore be error free no matter how complex the topic or task and great attention to detail is required.

Effort – A long with high salaries for employees, consultants also expect long hours and high output. This makes effort a key requirement of all consultants.

Fairness – In consulting there is a strong sense of collaboration in the office as acquired knowledge is what makes them a valuable service and so being able to support others and be fair to colleagues and clients alike is important.

Decision Making – Even the junior consultants in strategy consulting firms have large amounts of autonomy and so must make many decisions to maintain momentum of work.

Emotion – Being a client facing industry consultants need to have high levels of both EQ and IQ. The client is less likely to engage if they are frustrated or disappointed but they will not always tell you explicitly and so it is up to the consultant to read their emotions and anticipate the actions required to improve the outcome for the client.

Focus – With lots of moving parts to a project and the seniority of many clients, keeping up can be hard. Maintaining focus after a long day or time travelling is key to ensuring a good understanding of what is required.

Generosity – Building rapport with colleagues and clients is paramount to any consultant’s interpersonal toolkit and generosity is an easy way to build rapport. Whether it is going the extra mile for someone or giving up your time it always helps.

Learning – There is a joke amongst consultants that ‘it only takes one project to be an expert’ and whilst that is not true and doesn’t help the consultant stereotype of thinking they know a lot but in actual fact knowing very little, it does indicate the immense ability to learn as a consultant. In a matter of days, you can be required to discuss a business’s industry pressures with the CEO or present a technical topic to the client so being able to learn fast is critical.

Risk tolerance – With such fast moving projects and stretched resources you will be required to make some decisions yourself from day one. Naturally, there will be a level of risk to some of these decisions from quality of work to legal exposure and so having a good sense of judgement it valuable.

Quantitative reasoning – The majority of strategy consultant work involves presenting data and graphs and all junior consultants will be expected to be able to digest, manipulate and explain many quantitative components to their colleagues and clients.

Numerical agility – When conducting quantitative analysis it is common for management or the client to change their mind on the metrics or lens they want to use when looking at the data so the ability to adapt and take alternative approaches is key.

The importance and weighting of these traits would be different for manufacturers such as Airbus, auditors such as KPMG and marketing agencies such as WPP.

Look and feel of the test

The pymetrics test can be taken on a smartphone or desktop and has a similar feel to many other brainteaser apps. Using simple buttons or timely taps on the screen, you can complete all of the games.

The pymetrics games generate the same sense of pressure and anxiousness as a numerical reasoning assessment because the scenarios are so new, there is some maths required and there is a time pressure element.

The games are very intuitive and you do not need to worry about not being able to understand them or not being able to navigate the app. It is very easy and as long as you have a smartphone and are comfortable downloading and opening an app then you will be able to complete the pymetrics games assessment.

How to take the test

pymetrics like to state there is no right or wrong answer in the games. There is some truth to that statement as it does vary between companies. However, there is a threshold you need to meet in order to progress to the next stage of the application so there has to be a certain level of right answers or combination of answers you need to achieve.

 

It helps to understand how the games are calibrated from company to company.

To assess candidate’s eligibility, the cognitive, emotional, and social attributes build a success profile that serves as a benchmark score, created from a sample of internal, high performing employees. This group of employees play the games and the average is taken across the different personality traits. This becomes the ‘ideal’ answer for the hiring company as it works on the principle that they want to hire more of these types of people.

When you complete the games as part of your assessment your score will be assessed against the ‘ideal’ answer and your distance away will determine your score and whether you progress to the next stage of the interview process.

Therefore there are two ways to approach the games but only one we would recommend:

 

1) Try and guess how the current employee sample approached the games and try and replicate their responses

2) Be yourself, answer the games as best you can and if that fits with what they consider a high performer then you will pass

We recommend you go with option 2 as being genuine means that your true personality traits will be measured and if you do score close to the benchmark of the current employees then it means you will likely be a good cultural fit for the firm. That is important as if you are not then it is probably not going to be a job you will enjoy and you will end up leaving after a short period anyway.

Top tips

To help you take the pymetrics games we recommend 2 top tips to ensure you are focused and as well prepared as you can be:

Quiet environment – To complete the whole games assessment takes under 30 minutes but it moves at a fast pace with time pressures in each game. Having zero distractions is a big help and ensures you make a good account of yourself.

Complete them in the morning – The games require a lot of concentration and focus so by taking them in the morning you make sure that you’ve got your full brain capacity when completing them.