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Evaluate competencies, not personality traits!

The importance of assessing competencies was recognized as early as the 1970s by American psychologist David McClelland. His theses, innovative for the time, were later supported by research. As it turned out, general intelligence levels and various personality traits are not the best predictors of efficiency in an employee. Instead, the crucial factor is an employee’s competencies. This was the beginning of a real revolution – questionnaire blocks were replaced by continuously improved Assessment Centers.


The Competence Game takes this a step further. It is a digital competence assessment in the form of an accessible and engaging video game. The entertainment value and appeal of the gameplay are reflected in user reviews and the reliability of the results has been verified by scientific research.

We have already compared the results achieved by using our products with those gained via classic Assessment Center and Development Center methods. Our tests showed a clear correlation between competencies measured using a game and those measured using traditional methods.

How do we know our games measure competencies instead of, for INSTANCE, personality traits?

This also required scientific research. So of course, we carried it out, in two separate studies. 😊

The first study was carried out as part of the TransFormation.doc project – its participants were 500 Ph.D. students competing to win scholarships for research trips abroad. We compared the results obtained in the Archipelago Competence Game with those acquired from a NEO-FFI questionnaire which measured personality traits according to the established Big Five model. The research showed several statistically significant connections between goal-based action planning & action taking and the traits of extraversion and conscientiousness.

Why not stop the research there?

We had a suspicion that a group as strongly motivated as the Ph.D. students might have approached the questionnaire like they would a test. It was possible that with such high stakes, the answers weren’t entirely honest. Our suspicions were confirmed by numerous unusual connections suggested by the research, particularly the negative correlation between the trait of openness to experience and the measured competencies. We also noticed that the participants of the questionnaire were tested as significantly less neurotic than average. We simply had to research a less motivated group.

The participants of the second research played the Competence Game not as part of a recruitment process but simply as volunteers. This meant they had less motivation to excel in the game and respond dishonestly to the questionnaire. Unlike the previous study, when we compared their results with their personality traits, we found no significant connections.

Explaining these discrepancies

The difference in results between the two studies points primarily to the likely impact of stakes-based motivation on the responses given in the questionnaire. In contrast to survey-based research, there is no way of tricking the recruiter into the Competence Game. That is why the game results of the two groups did not differ significantly, while the personality traits measured by the questionnaire were significantly different for the highly motivated group.

Most importantly, there is no notable correlation between the game results and personality traits. We do not wish to measure someone’s personality, but the level of their competencies as applicable to their work. Naturally, where there is a correlation, it is between results obtained via the Competence Game and the results of a standard Assessment Center. However, the Competence Game has the advantage of participants being able to test their competencies in convenient conditions: they can play at home, at their favorite time of day, and without any additional stress factors.


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