Get Noticed: Using Virtual Reality in Recruiting

January 11, 2021
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Author: Glenn Hunter

In today’s brave new virtual world, it’s no wonder recruitment firms and hiring managers are turning to virtual reality (VR).

Virtual reality is becoming more popular among businesses for talent acquisition and onboarding.

According to the 2019 “Future of Recruiting Survey” conducted by professional services network PwC, 65% of job candidates said they’d be more likely to accept a position if they experienced it first through technology. So, more talent acquisition professionals are integrating cutting-edge technologies like VR into their hiring processes.

Related: Pre-recorded Video Interviews: The Pros & Cons

VR, which immerses users in a fully digital environment through a headset or surrounding display, has been around for a while. It has been used in the past to train astronauts, airplane pilots and surgeons, for example. Now, with the advent of new products like Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR, it’s being employed by talent acquisition pros for a variety of processes. Those processes range from virtual employer tours and assessments to onboarding and training.

“One of the areas that’s already being used (in hiring) and will continue to grow is the use of simulation such as VR,” says Bradley Pitcher, a third-year Ph.D candidate in industrial-organizational psychology at Purdue University who has studied the topic. Indeed, the use of VR in business is expected to increase from $829 million in 2018 to $4.26 billion in 2023, according to ARtillery Intelligence, a publication and intelligence firm. Companies that have employed the technology include Accenture, Lloyds Banking Group, Marriott and Siemens.

It’s All About Brand Impression

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, hiring specialists at firms including General Mills and Intuit were using “VR employer tours” to attract candidates to their brands. General Mills’ virtual tour took prospective hires attending career fairs through the food conglomerate’s Minneapolis headquarters with the help of an Oculus Rift headset.

“The gear draws a crowd,” General Mills’ Leo Timmons told LinkedIn.com. “We knew it would be an automatic magnet for attention.” In the pandemic’s wake, according to the website TechTarget.com, there has been a big push for more adoption of such “remote walkthroughs” by universities and companies alike.

The car company Jaguar has also used VR in recruiting, teaming up with the Gorillaz, a British virtual band, to attract job candidates with a free, “mixed reality app” available through Google Play and iTunes. The company describes the app as a “unique blend of real world, augmented reality, VR and 360 environments.”

Prospective hires learn the ins and outs of Jaguar electric vehicles and play code-breaking puzzles on the app, which tests “their curiosity, persistence, lateral thinking and problem-solving skills.” The company says many candidates are impressed by Jaguar’s “inventive approach,” and it fast-tracks the recruitment process for those who perform well at the code-breaking games.

Walmart is another company using VR for hiring. In addition to deploying headsets to teach more than a million workers how to stock shelves properly, the nation’s largest employer uses a VR skills assessment as part of its process for identifying new middle managers. The assessment provides hiring managers with a color-coded report explaining the individual’s strengths and weaknesses. The assessment is then used to help make promotion decisions or steer the individual into additional training.

Related: Artificial Intelligence Continues to Improve Recruiting

Data and Privacy Navigation

virtual-reality-data-privacy-concerns

As VR becomes more popular for recruiting and other business functions, legal experts are warning of potential privacy and data concerns. That’s because the advanced technology allows companies to record all sorts of new “physiological response” information from users – from their eye movement to their heart rate – in efforts to prevent VR sickness, for example. (Symptoms of VR sickness, which is akin to motion sickness, range from headache and nausea to disorientation.)

But CNBC.com says “that information could also be used to derive psychological responses – gauging sexual preferences, proclivity to violence and degrees of empathy.” And that info could be much sought-after by marketers trying to reach consumers.

“Trying to maintain the privacy of those types of things will be very important,” Darrell West of The Brookings Institution told CNBC. Companies or organizations could even wind up in court if an employee contends that their privacy has been breached. And the problem with that, West added, “is that judges aren’t trained on emerging technologies.”

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