When you think about virtual reality, chances are gaming and entertainment come to mind first. But the technology has actually been in use for decades as a training tool for pilots, astronauts, military personnel, and surgeons. Now, as the cost of VR headsets and 360 degree cameras declines, innovative uses for the tech are proliferating — including in the realm of talent acquisition. Here are some ways companies are leveraging VR technology to recruit, hire, and retain top candidates:
Workplace tours for candidates
Helping candidates imagine themselves in a particular workplace is an important element of the recruiting and hiring process. It’s particularly meaningful for highly competitive roles, for example in the tech sector, where most candidates are already employed or fielding offers from other companies in addition to yours. With VR technology, candidates can take an immersive tour of a workplace, as well as peek into the company culture. Online ecommerce company Jet.com, for example, uses VR to let candidates sit in on a meeting with their CEO, tour their busy offices, and check out the vibe at the happy hour for employees.1
Many companies are bringing VR headsets with them to career events and college job fairs to increase traffic to their booths, as well as to give candidates an authentic inside look at their organizations. After a VR introduction, candidates who take the next steps in the application process are more likely a good fit for your company.
Introducing the job
Similar to the virtual workplace tour, VR can give candidates an immersive experience with specific roles. This is especially helpful in positions with a higher-than-average turnover rate. Misunderstanding the day-to-day realities of a particular job contributes to employee churn, and VR can help clarify the position better than any job description.
German railway company, Deutsche Bahn, was an early adopter of VR tech to help attract Millennial and Gen Z workers when it was preparing for a wave of retirements in 2015.2 With VR, prospective candidates could closely follow employees doing different jobs within the company. While the realities of the job were off-putting to some, the talent who continued tended to be more promising and were more likely to stick with the hiring process.
Virtual reality skills assessments
Skills assessments are not new, but VR takes them up a level. Jaguar Land Rover uses the technology to find talented software engineers and mathematicians by asking them to solve puzzles in a virtual garage. The puzzles are designed to test the key skills needed for specific positions, and engage with tech talent who may not have considered working for a car company. Candidates who perform well on the puzzles are immediately invited to jump ahead a few steps in the hiring process.
One day soon, virtual reality is expected to put a valuable spin on the interview question, “What would you do when faced with this situation?” Within a virtual environment, candidates for specific roles will be asked to solve problems common to the position. A company can also ask talent to demonstrate important soft skills, such as communication with co-workers and customer relations.
In LinkedIn’s 2018 Global Recruiting Trends report, 28 percent of 9,000 hiring managers surveyed said VR skills assessments were among the most useful candidate recruitment innovations.
While VR technology is becoming more widespread, the percentage of people who own headsets of their own is still small. This isn’t an issue when companies provide VR headsets at career fairs, but requiring candidates to supply their own for interviews or skills assessments can keep promising talent from continuing with an application.
Like all valuable recruiting technology, VR is only one piece of the puzzle. There is no substitute for in-person interviews, an actual workplace walk-through, and real handshakes. But VR is an early hiring touch point that shows promise in attracting candidates who are suited to the job, and enjoy your company culture.
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1 Crook, Jordan. “Jet Uses Samsung Gear VR To Recruit New Candidates.” TechCrunch. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.
2 Dixon, Lauren. “This Firm Uses Virtual Reality to Recruit. Should Others Follow?” Talent Economy. Web. 13 March 2017.