The next big thing in recruitment? Get (virtually) real!

Virtual Reality has gone mainstream. Once the preserve of sci-fi movies (think Tron or The Matrix), it’s become more and more popular. Not just with gamers, but businesses too. So strap on a clunky head-set, and let us transport you to a new world…where recruitment is done differently.

It might sound like a far-fetched fantasy, but VR is really making waves in attracting talent. In a fiercely competitive jobs market, some of the world’s biggest companies are using it in a variety of ways to make sure they find the staff they’re looking for.

Adding a new dimension to recruitment

So how can a recruiter make use of VR? They seem to fall into two main camps: those that use it to provide a virtual tour of their offices or facilities; and those who use it to test specific skills.

Given that, particularly with graduate recruitment, you’re talking to a generation that’s grown up with technology, the fact that VR is still novel enough to draw a crowd is surely reason enough to consider it. Especially as it’s not only an effective recruitment tool but, done well, it adds a great deal of kudos to a company’s brand.

Indeed, the only real drawback is that VR’s not yet available on a broad scale, so its use is generally limited to job fairs and assessment centres. That’s not stopped it proving successful though. How successful? Here are some examples.

Two American giants, financial software producer Intuit and General Mills (who own the Cheerios, Haagen-Dazs and Old El Paso brands) both have impressive headquarters in California and Minnesota respectively. So each produced virtual reality tours to impress graduates at careers fairs – and got a suitably huge response. According to Intuit’s Director of Talent Acquisition, “It’s all about thinking past transactional or relational recruiting. We must approach it with an experiential mind set.”

German rail company Deutsche Bahn also used VR at job fairs as far back as 2015, to help recruit up to 10,000 hires each year. With it, they could give candidates a more realistic idea about a given role such as train conductor or engineer – and found that instead of meeting about 10 interested candidates per fair, the numbers shot up to between 50 and 100.

The UK has its fair share of VR fans too. Lloyds bank used it to immerse 400 candidates in scenarios they’d face at the bank, but set in different locations – such as a Greek temple. The technology itself helped attract candidates too, with one commenting “Banking is moving more towards digital tech. The VR made me think Lloyds was at the forefront.”

Jaguar Cars teamed up with virtual band Gorillaz to launch a free mixed reality app to learn about electric vehicles and play engaging code-breaking puzzles – in turn testing curiosity, persistence, lateral thinking and problem solving skills – and those that perform exceptionally are fast-tracked through the recruitment process.

And the British Army uses VR experiences at events throughout the country, letting potential recruits take on missions such as driving a tank, parachuting, mountaineering and even taking on the challenge of combat training. The result? A 66% rise in applications.

A Virtual future?

So for recruiters, it looks like VR is here to stay. Certainly, psychometric tests have been used for a long time and in many cases Virtual Reality is simply a progression of that in a different, more engaging format.

But what advice can you give to candidates to prepare for virtual assessment? Ernst & Young’s UK & Ireland recruiting leader, Dan Richards, offers this insight: “Understand what each technology is testing and how,” he says. “When you are tested, do it in a place where you’re not easily distracted to give yourself the best chance of success.”


Join the conversation. Tell us about your experiences with VR, or your thoughts on using it in recruitment on our social media channels!






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