The utilization of VR in career exploration, recruitment, vetting, and onboarding requires organizations to understand the differences between Virtual Job Tryout and VR Immersive Role Experiences. Technology is transforming how organizations and businesses find, assess, and retain talent in the 21st century. Virtual reality is already influences how companies shape their talent pipeline. 

This is a series of insights from: Dr. Christopher David Kaufman, doctoral researcher in organizational learning science.  Dr. Kaufman is a certified social behavioral investigator, author, patented software developer, Fortune 100 strategist, learning design consultant, and is finishing his EdD doctoral thesis at the esteemed Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University.

Is it VR or HR in Recruitment?

What do the US Navy Seals, General Mills and Tata Motors have in common? Each of these organizations are using Virtual Reality to attract and recruit more interested candidates. If you didn’t know it, VR is being used in multiple spaces around Human Resources, not just in recruitment, but also onboarding, technical training, and compliance and soft skills education.

This article will focus on talent recruitment and acquisition. There are two aspects where VR shines; delivering exceptional candidate experiences and accelerating virtual job try-outs. These two aspects of attraction and self-assessment are where virtual reality can empower organizations to make sizable gains in getting more candidates and delivering experiences around vetting and self-assessment that will increase positive candidate experiences rather than negative feedback. And ensure the right candidates with the right skills and passion are placed in roles where they can excel.

Virtual Reality Career Exploration

Why VR matters in recruitment?

Bad candidate experiences affects the bottom line in numerous ways. First, bad candidate experiences have a way of showing up online. Platforms such as Comparably or Glassdoor are a magnet for poor employee and candidate experiences. Research shows that bad reviews coincide with lower customer satisfaction. And more directly, research shows that 42% of candidates that had a bad experience would not buy from that company ever again, and that includes a published report of Virgin that found candidates that had bad experiences canceled their Virgin accounts.

Yet in terms of costs LinkedIn found that having bad employer brands from online reviews found that employers who fail to invest in their reputation could be paying up to $4,723 more per employee hired or as much as 7.6 million for companies with at least 10,000 employees.

As a result, there are clear downsides to delivering typical, uninspired, unclear recruitment or hiring experiences. What about assessment of new recruits? While there are horror stories to bad assessments, which in many cases does not screen and worse gets you right back at having to scan for bad candidate experiences. There are issues in trying to master pre-employment assessments with personality or general cognitive abilities. It raises the questions how can a generalized battery of questions fit unique job roles?

What would be better process is to see if the person understands the job responsibilities, culture, products, and services better. Imagine if you can scale that, and get candidates to self-assess if they are a good fit? Rather than putting precious HR resources to handle or worse miss or mis-handle hundreds if not thousands of resumes. 

Attract Candidates

Interestingly that is where VR for recruitment shines. Let’s dig into how attraction works with VR. First HR for some time understands that you go to where the bodies are, right? College Campuses and Job Fairs are regular HR excursions and expensive routines for most major companies recruitment processes. VR can both augment and circumvent or extend the reach beyond your ambassador teams.

First, no matter how well the brochure looks and how bright and shiny the smiles are from your recruitment team they can’t describe everything. What VR does for those teams is augment and turbo-charge their skills in immersing their candidates with experiences that match the jobs they are offering. From engineering to marketing, the candidates get an idea by being immersed in the factories, offices, and corporate parks with what real office or corporate culture means. Companies like Intuit already have used VR to get recruits to see the diversity and quirky culture that Intuit has.

Go There – Go Anywhere

Second, VR can go where your recruitment teams can’t. Your recruitment team just can’t get to every four-year college or every major community college. It is just not possible or feasible. Being able to reach particularly rural areas where excellent candidates do exist but just due to their proximity away from airports and away from other universities are missed or skipped. By making the process something that can be set-up at any kiosk or delivered directly to high school or college counselors, candidates can visit job opportunities on the corporate campus of prospective businesses without ever stepping out of their college counselors office. Organizations from Walmart to the Navy Seals are seeing their recruitment candidates doubled by deploying VR on demand either through commercial apps and headsets or through campus events with headsets for candidates.

Self-Assess at Scale

Then comes assessment, with VR creating virtual job try-outs both the candidate and the organization see if the shoe or rather the headset experience fits. The use of enabling job applicants to see exactly what a role requires is a paradigm shift in recruitment. This operates as a self-assessment where the candidate can see what a job role actually entails. As it is self-guided and can contain real-world difficulties both the candidate and the organization can find what fits and doesn’t for their futures. Candidate job-misfit issues have been estimated to the expense of recruiting an employee that can cost up to $4,700 and with a CareerBuilder survey estimating that 74% of employers admitted to hiring the wrong person. This costs in productivity, financial costs, employee morale, and reputation can be staggering.

Extend Reach and Scale

When you expand the pool of candidates that can try-on the role, assume typical responsibilities, and check out company culture the end result can be a win-win at scale. Additionally, the organization can begin to understand what candidates are focused on as the experience is captured and recorded for replay and analysis. Does the role attract college students that might not have the right training, but have the right passion? Does the organization have  relationships to help shape or guide the college candidate to a set of courses that might earn them an internship? Each of these questions leads to building a positive feedback loop across reputation, financial costs, and productivity into a learning organizational community. By utilizing VR for recruitment organizations can access disparate communities, attract diamonds in the rough, and develop 21st century muscles to empower increased HR workforce capacity.