Spencer Conway, Head of Digital & Immersive, discusses the impact of Virtual Reality on recruitment
Unless you’re Google or one of the cool kids from Silicon Valley, attracting the right talent – the people that not only have the skills you need, but who are also the right cultural fit for your business – is a considerable challenge.
Right now, more than ever, there are numerous existing and emerging technologies that can help if used in the right way. For me, the challenge isn’t the tech. The challenge is being brave enough to think differently and try something new.
Utilising VR for training
Although virtual reality (VR) is no longer the ‘new kid on the block,’ it does have enormous potential to change the face of recruitment. For some time now, VR has been used as a powerful tool in training workforces across multiple industries. However, there’s an opportunity to expand on that and use it to attract the next generation of talent.
Such is the case at Lloyds Banking Group. During a recent recruitment campaign, 400 candidates were immersed in an experience designed to put them into scenarios they would face during their time at the bank. It’s such a great example of allowing potential employees to experience what it’s like to work somewhere and seeing first-hand how they would cope with particular situations. When utilised in this manner, immersive technology could prove to transform the recruitment process (Artisan Creative).
Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company, have been taking VR on the road. They’ve been using it at careers fairs to give people a flavour of the company – ‘day in the life of’ an employee. So instead of a typical short tour of the office, interested candidates can experience what it’s like to drive one of their trains. This approach has not only made them standout at careers events, but has also resulted in between five and ten times more applicants.
Perception is another interesting avenue that we’ve been exploring with our clients. Working with the Construction Industry Training Board, we’ve been using VR to help potential candidates get excited about a career path they hadn’t necessarily considered. In this immersive experience, we place each candidate at the centre of a story set in the year 2069. Doing this has not only allowed us to create a future showcase for the exciting developments happening within the sector, but also puts them in situations they wouldn’t be able to experience without considerable training. A kind of time-travel if you like.
Both VR and AR are changing recruitment
There is also some evidence that VR can even impact the type of people a company recruit. EY has been using a game called Peak Strength as part of its recruitment strategy, which uses a mountain climbing scenario to test accuracy, logic and memory. Since it was introduced, a recent article suggests that the number of students recruited from state schools has increased from 40% in 2014 to 72% in 2018 (The Guardian). This technology is both useful in assessing skills and accessible to all.
It’s not just about donning a VR headset though. Jaguar has deployed an AR game which uses code breaking to assess candidates, while Siemens created its own Facebook game (PR Newswire), known as Plantville, in which candidates had to run a factory, hiring and managing staff and dealing with potential crises).
AI could transform recruiting
AI is also a talking point in recruitment. Natural Language Processing, or NLP, is a way of analysing the text in a person’s CV, social media profile or other HR documentation to aid with ranking potential recruits, analyse staff personalities or even identify potential talent on social media. With this kind of technology, everything from job roles to employee benefits can be personalised (AIHR Academy). It’s true that concerns have been expressed about AI in recruitment, with some arguing that far from removing bias, it can actually build it in if the technology is wrong. Likewise, some might be put off by the idea of HR analysing their personality using technology in this way. However, it must be acknowledged that it also has the potential to open up recruitment to a wider pool of people, give them a better sense of what it would be like to work in a particular business and help businesses get the right people for interview.
Mixed reality has the potential to create a more tactile and contextualised experience for candidates – less show and tell, more show and do. After all, one of the most costly mistakes business can make is bringing in the wrong talent, not just because of the cost of rehiring, but the negative impact on culture. With recent research suggesting around half the workforce is now made up of millennials (The Telegraph), many of whom prioritise a flexible workplace, the idea of personalising VR, AR and AI to meet the needs of staff cannot be overlooked.
Find out more about the VR experience we designed for the construction industry.