Top law firms are notoriously picky when it comes to the standards they set when recruiting new legal trainees. And they can be when the best graduates from the best universities jostle for the opportunity to get in at the ground floor.
But sometimes academic excellence is not everything. Companies also put candidates through psychometric tests and other exercises designed to demonstrate the other kinds of intelligence and character traits linked to excelling in the high pressure environment of an elite law firm. And now, the latest assessment tool introduced to help companies sift through candidates is…. how good they are at video games.
Video games, or at least the right kind of video game, can capture a vast array of data points that can offer insight into a candidate’s talents and behavioural traits. The games being used by some of the most competitive recruiters in the UK, such as ‘big four’ consultants PwC and KPMG and City law firms like Taylor Wessing and Taylor Vinters are developed by Arctic Shores.
The start-up was awarded a 2014 grant by Innovate UK to further develop their gamified psychometric tests to ensure that the end result offered recruiters genuine insight into candidates and wasn’t “just a gimmick”. Early adopters like Taylor Wessing appear convinced and the company has now used Arctic Shores games during its last two trainee recruitment rounds. Taylor Wessing offers around 40 trainee positions every year and only half of those taken on to the programme will subsequently be offered one of 20 contracts. Around 800 applicants chase those places.
The company’s determination to hire the very best has seen it for some time make a special effort to look beyond the kind of assessment criteria that favour candidates from a privileged background. Taylor Wessing works closely with Aspiring Solicitors, an organisation that helps law graduates from under-represented socio-economic and other groups prepare their applications for the hugely competitive trainee selection processes at law companies. Last year 50% of Taylor Wessing’s recruited trainees were part of the Aspiring Solicitors programme.
One of the advantages of using the games’ results in recruitment assessment is, says one of the company’s most recently selected trainees:
“It [also] helps to level the playing field because it avoids subconscious preconceptions about a candidate as it doesn’t know anything about your background, gender or ethnicity.”
Arctic Shores’ games place the scientific foundations of psychometric testing into a format that is engaging and should be fun, rather than the often repetitive and boring nature of traditional tests. Robert Newry, Arctic Shores’ managing director explains:
“We don’t measure an individual trait from each level of the challenges; rather we collect data from various levels to give us a clear picture. Some of the things we collect data towards at this level are how you approach uncertainty, reward and loss.”