Case Study: Hiring with the Empathy Toy

The skills needed to thrive in the new world of work have shifted dramatically from the in-demand skills of the past. And it only makes sense that the way we interview candidates for these 21st-century jobs should also adapt. By 2020, the most in-demand work skills are expected to be problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. But the way workplaces interview candidates, especially recent graduates, still prioritizes more traditional skills. Resumes and grades are the focus, but according to the bright minds at Google, GPAs are worthless at predicting success on the job. Companies seeking innovative, empathetic employees need a new way of evaluating candidates.

MaRS Discovery District is Canada’s largest innovation centre, so naturally, they’re always on the hunt for candidates with 21st-century skills. MaRS brings together a diverse group of educators, researchers, social scientists, entrepreneurs and business experts. To help test candidates’ soft skills, MaRS brings the Empathy Toy into the interview room. We conducted an in-depth interview with Julia Scott, MaRS’s HR Manager, to discuss their work with the Empathy Toy.

For Julia, the Empathy Toy allows her to test skills that are easy to talk about, but difficult to evaluate in an interview setting. And it’s these skills that are most important for innovation.

“The nature of work has changed. A lot of our work now is with other people, not things. So, we must have the ability to connect, take cues, seek clarification, and collaborate to create new things. The magic of innovation is the ability to draw things out of other people’s experience and collaborate with them to refine those ideas.”

– Julia Scott, Human Resources Manager, MaRS Discovery District

During second interviews, Julia spends about 30 minutes using the Empathy Toy with candidates. They play the game twice, with the hiring manager first giving instructions to the candidate, so they can see how the candidate takes direction. The second time around, it’s the candidate’s turn to direct the hiring manager. Julia can then see if the candidate identified key learnings from the first game, and put those lessons into action. Julia acts as an observer during the game play, looking for how people communicate and take cues from one another.

The Empathy Toy for Job Interviews

MaRS Discovery District • Toronto, ON

To discover more insights into how the Empathy Toy can be used to improve the hiring process, take a look at our full MaRS case study.

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