Pymetrics: Play Games, Get a Job
“Neuroscience + data science redefining your job search”
What is pymetrics?
Pymetrics taps into a similar market gap as Aspiring Minds. Launched in 2014 by co-founders Frida Polli and Julie Yoo from HBS and MIT, respectively, it uses decades of neuroscience research to help companies and potential employees assess “emotional intelligence and intellectual intelligence” to help recruiters find the right candidate for the job, and to help candidates find the right career path.
According to a 2014 article in INC, pymetrics first “funded itself entirely with revenue from the business until December 2013, when it raised $2.5 million from Khosla Ventures” after having built a prototype – it launched in the fall of 2014.
To take the test, users simply go to the pymetrics’ website and play 12 games, which the startup claims takes about 30 minutes. Upon completion, gamers receive insights about “50 key cognitive and emotional traits” like attention to detail and memory and are matched up with potential careers in which they might excel. They can also choose to have their profile shared with potential employers who use pymetrics. By April 2015, pymetrics had reached over 80,000 job seekers and has partnered with a handful of major global companies, like Fidelity and Egon Zehnder.
How does it use data to create value?
With every game played on its platform, pymetrics collects more and more data to feed into its “sophisticated data science algorithms, [allowing them] to create a personalized cognitive, emotional, and social profile, as well as career profile” for test takers. They also track candidates that were successfully matched with job to incorporate success rates back into the algorithm.
This neuroscience-meets-big-data approach allows them to create value in two major ways:
- It is highly objective. The personal and cognitive traits pymetrics tests through its games are measured in a “non-directional” way, so there is no good or bad side of the spectrum to fall on, no right and wrong. It aims to offer a neutral view of where a person falls on each trait and leaves it up to the recruiter to decide what’s desirable for the specific position they are trying to fill. As co-founder Frida Polli puts it, “we offer another data point that’s free of bias and subjectivity, and hopefully people will trust it as an objective data point.”
- It is fun and simple. People who have taken tests like Myers Briggs and other self-assessment tools know that these personality tests can be long and boring. Pymetrics breaks this pattern by offering fun online games that are quick to play and let the test taker forget that they are even being assessed on their personality traits. An example of a game that I tried out was Keypresses. The instructions prompted me to press the space bar on my keyboard as often as possible once I saw the word “GO” on the screen. It lasted for maybe 30 seconds. Once I finished, I found out that this game measured the “speed with which I process information.” Apparently I am “neither overly impulsive nor overly deliberate when processing and reacting to information that comes my way.”
As pymetrics continues to grow, they are aiming to grow their platform by adding more schools and more companies, aiming to “ultimately be a one-stop destination for someone that is trying to determine his or her career.”
Student comments on Pymetrics: Play Games, Get a Job
Fantastic post! I had never heard about Pymetrics before. Seems like quite a fascinating concept. I wonder what the data points it uses though for each game, and if it compares metrics between games to make more complex assessments.
Interesting topic… I wonder if the company has published any data that proves the effectiveness of their approach (employee turnover, employee/employer satisfaction, etc)…
Very interesting! I can very well imagine that certain skills can be tested by playing relatively simple games. However, I am a bit more skeptical when it comes to “emotional intelligence”. I would like to believe that assessing skills such as empathy still requires some human interaction. But maybe they could complement their games with data measured with webcams about emotions expressed. Thanks!
Great post! It strikes me that to predict a candidate’s success, a company like Pymetrics would need as much data or more on the workplace the candidate will be entering, compared to on the candidate him or herself. It seems like candidate success is highly dependent on fit with workplace environment/culture. Do they factor this in?
Thank you for this post, Carina. It encouraged me to re-take the Pymetrics test that I did several months ago. Overall, I agree with the approach that certain skills can be measured. However, I am not sure to what degree this test is representative of true behavioral traits. Can an online balloon game in which you can gain or lose 5 imaginary cents correctly predict your risk-taking profile? The test results were inconsistent with reality for me. Also, my second concern is related to veracity. Since you can retake the tests several times and you are told what your potential employers are looking for, you can manipulate the outcome of the individual tests to fit the desired profile. What do you think?
I think this is a very interesting business model. I took the test myself and found the results quite accurate to what I already know I like/am good at. What I wonder though is that there are attributes that might not be easy or even possible to measure. While the success of this type of models will somehow democratize access to jobs (reducing the value of a brand name school or a shiny resume), it could also over simplify the recruiting evaluation process, setting up barriers for people who “in theory” don’t match with a specific position but could certainly do a great job at it and be successful due to other attributes.