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Monday, April 28 12:00 AM ET

HR Departments Embrace Interactive Fiction

By Brian Ashe

Cambridge, MA - Pre-employment Testing with 'Logic-Based Reasoning Tests' and 'Ethics and Issues Testing' have been prevalent at the majority of large corporations. These tests are believed to be good indicators of how a potential employee will respond in their position.

The tests, however, have started to lose effectiveness as the "best" answers desired by employers have been passed around and discussed in many forums on the Internet. So prospective employees have come into the tests well armed to tackle the tests even if they are not true indicators of their abilities.

A new pre-employment assessment firm called Z-Assess based in Cambridge, Massachusetts has come up with a novel new approach using the classic gaming staple of Interactvie Fiction. Their experimentation with the technique has shown great promise at realistic assessment of an individual's character and reasoning ability.

Sharon Goslig, lead analyst at Z-Assess, describes it as "...a fundamental shift from static questioning to real-time situational evaluation." She continues, "For example, we have found that the best sales people keep getting eaten by Grues. They persist to do the same thing over and over regardless of how fruitless it is. That really tells an employer the character of the person applying."

Ms. Goslig explains that the current tests use stories that were made in the '80s with some minor modifications to connect better with applicants.

> enter conference room
It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
> what is a grue?
The grue is a sinister, lurking presence in the dark places of the earth and in IT departments. Its favorite diet is (l)users, but its insatiable appetite is tempered by its fear of light. No grue has ever been seen by the light of day, and few have survived its fearsome jaws to tell the tale.

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Goslig also explains that different stories are more appropriate for different positions. "If someone applying for an IT job is averse to picking up the toothbrush at the beginning of HHGTTG, we know we have someone who spends more time around computers than people."

Rachael Moore, HR Manager for a Fortune 500 corporation, is extremely impressed with the results. "We hired a new Marketing Manager last week because of his ability to crash the parser with corporate jargon. Who would have guessed 'synergy' and 'in the know' could upset a machine so much. It showed he was on top of his game and would be a perfect team player."

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