How to Pass the BCG Pymetrics Online Games
Why BCG has adopted a games based assessment
BCG are not alone in introducing a games based assessment to their application process. 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 BCG games based assessment is an unbiased, scalable way for them to filter their candidate pool down to a manageable number.
Who Pymetrics are
BCG has partnered with psychometric games provider, Pymetrics. They are a US based firm founded in 2011 that was founded by a team of Havard based Phd students 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 – A sequence 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
Effort – Two different tasks are presented to you with a probability of winning % and you are asked to choose whether to play the easy game or the hard game
Fairness – A finite amount of money is distributed across a population based on certain characteristics and you must decide whether the distribution is fair or not.
Decision Making – Based on traditional pattern recognition puzzles you must recognise the pattern and then move the pieces to create a new pattern in the shortest number of moves possible
Emotion – From cartoon faces presented to you and a line of context you are must perceive the persons current emotion
Focus – You need to recognise simple pattern irregularities and tap the screen when they appear
Generosity – With a monetary amount for yourself, you are asked to choose whether to give money to others in the group or to keep the money for yourself (note: the answer is not always to give it away)
Learning – Simple memory games asking you to recall shapes and / or numbers that were previously on the screen
Risk tolerance – You pump up a balloon with every tap of the screen and the larger the balloon the more money you earn. The balloon is set to burst at different sizes and if it does then you earn $0 from that balloon.
The remaining 4 games test two technical traits in candidates:
Quantitative Reasoning – You are presented with comparable datasets such as dots of different colours in two boxes and must select the one with the higher proportion of a certain colour
Numerical agility – Simple data manipulation and calculation tasks based on graphs and numbers
The results of candidate tests are assessed against a benchmark of the current employees of the hiring company to indicate suitability and cultural fit of candidates. Distance from the benchmark is used to make a decision on a candidate’s progression.
Why these traits are important for BCG
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. BCG are proud high performing analysers that work regular with external clients. This drives a lot of what they value and what they perceive as ‘good’ 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.
Look and feel of the test
The Pymetrics test is on a smartphone 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.
On their website they claim that the games do not feel like an interview and that is true to an extent. However, we found them to 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. So, it seems strange to compare them to an interview but rather a more interactive online test.
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 pass 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 ability, cultural fit and suitability a benchmark score is 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 ‘correct’ 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 ‘correct’ 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.
To help you take the Pymetrics games we recommend 6 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.
Brain training apps – The games are similar to other brain training apps on the market so if you want to score well on games such as the quantitative reasoning and numerical agility ones then practising with other brain training apps will help.
Other resources for the strategy consulting interview process
The Pymetrics games assessment is one component of the BCG application process. We have other articles and resources to help you with the rest of the application process.