An escape room in a job interview? Many are open to it

Job seekers and employers in Britain are open to some unorthodox methods when it comes to the recruitment and hiring process, according to new research by the Knowledge Academy Corp.

The global provider of training courses found that more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of employers would be interested in using an escape room to assess an applicant for a job, noting it assesses skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, logical reasoning, time management, communication and team work. Among employees, 76 per cent of respondents would be willing to be assessed by such an exercise.

The research looked at other untraditional methods for interviewing potential employees, including professional speed dating, which assesses skills such as negotiation, communication, presentation and confidence, as well as capture the flag, which assesses skills like delegating, motivating, planning and leadership.

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In terms of support for these other methods, 70 per cent of job seekers and 62 per cent of organizations would be open to professional speed dating, while 54 per cent of job seekers and 30 per cent of organizations said the same for capture the flag.

Jim Irwin, branch manager at the Creative Group, a subsidiary of Robert Half, believes these methods could make for an unforgettable interview. “I could see an activity like an escape room or capture the flag being a great ice-breaker before or after a more traditional interview. Cultural fit may also be potentially easier to gauge in a non-traditional interview activity,” he said in an email to Benefits Canada.

Irwin noted the hiring manager should have a good understanding of the outcomes and behaviours they’re judging and how they’re rating the applicants to ensure these tasks are measurable and not a matter of discretion. The activity should also have some relevance to the culture of the company, he added, because a disconnect between the interview and the culture at the company can result in hiring the wrong person.

“That said, I think it would be nice as a supplement to a more traditional interview process, not necessarily a substitute for it,” said Irwin.

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He also pointed out that these unorthodox methods could wind up excluding people who may fit the job well, but who aren’t extroverts and could potentially add more pressure to candidates. Also, noted Irwin, physical activities could be inaccessible to those with disabilities and so considered discriminatory.

In terms of unusual recruitment being used in Canada, Irwin feels Canadians tend to be more traditional in their human resources approaches.

“However, I’ve heard of employers using karaoke to gauge a candidate’s cultural fit and asking a candidate to re-enact a scene from a show or movie, almost like an audition, to see how extroverted they are,” he said. “I’ve also heard of group interviews where candidates were asked to prepare and present role-plays for the rest of the applicants as part of their interview process.”

Instead of unusual activities, employers may opt for out-of-the-box questions, added Irwin. “For one, many candidates are too rehearsed for the standard interview questions and give textbook answers — it can be hard to get to know a candidate when you get canned responses or only say things they think a hiring manager wants to hear.”

Also, unexpected questions help gauge how well applicants thinks on their feet, he added. “Lots of things on the job will be unexpected so the interview questions will give you a sense of how candidates will react and respond to real-life situations.”

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