Down with Games and Puzzles

I had a heated discussion last week with a hiring manager. He was convinced games and puzzles helped him discriminate between suitable and unsuitable candidates. I told him I’d probably fail the games he had for project managers. “Uh, what do you mean the games for project managers?” “Don’t you have separate games or puzzles for PMs, separate from the ones you use for developers and testers?” “Uh, no.”

Ok. At least two problems here:

  1. Using a game or puzzle instead of an audition.
  2. Making the game or puzzle unspecific for the job.

Games and puzzles discriminate against people who don’t have precisely the interest or background that the game or puzzle demands. I don’t play computer games. I only like crossword puzzles, not logic puzzles. Does that make me a good or bad PM, developer, or tester? You can’t tell. The game or puzzle doesn’t provide you, the hiring manager, enough information.

If you want information on how a candidate works, create and use an audition, not games or puzzles. Don’t allow your games or puzzles to discriminate against people who don’t have the outside interests or background similar to yours.

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