Pandemic restrictions can make it difficult to hire employees who have never had the opportunity to visit the physical location where they will be working. Especially in a competitive hiring environment, employers want to do everything they can to give potential employees a good idea of what it would be like to work for the company.
Fortunately, as with many challenges facing employers during the pandemic, technology can help. Virtual reality (VR) technology allows candidates to experience what it would be like to work in certain jobs or specific organizations. Once employees are hired, the employer can use virtual reality to provide training in near-real-life situations.
Technology and the recruiting experience
Social distancing during the pandemic has forced most organizations to quickly shift to online interactions with candidates and employees. Video conferencing platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom have become important tools in providing a semblance of normality to these interactions.
“Through videoconferencing, employers can still assess a candidate’s body language, tone, facial expressions and ultimately replicate the human aspects of the candidate evaluation process,” said Carlos Ledo, Assistant General Counsel and Consultant. in human resources at Engage PEO. Some companies take technology even further, he said.
“Recruiters can now use VR glasses as a way to test a candidate’s skills in a virtual environment,” Ledo said. “This assessment in the metaverse allows employers to get a better assessment of a candidate’s ability to perform essential job functions.” The metaverse, according to The New York Times “is the convergence of virtual reality and a digital second life.”
Jeff Mains, CEO of Champion Leadership Group, said he can see many potential uses of human resources for virtual reality as the technology develops.
“The application of augmented and virtual reality in human resources procedures is still in its infancy, but it shows great promise in areas such as recruitment, onboarding, training and virtual workplaces”, Hands said.
The potential of virtual reality for the candidate experience
Marilyn Gaskell is the founder and CEO of TruePeopleSearch, a Phoenix-based data provider. She named BMW and Johnson & Johnson as two companies that have used virtual reality to “create realistic online simulations in which candidates can explore their work and interact with staff. This is particularly useful for organizations that hire remotely. and who want their potential employees to feel like part of the team before they even meet them in person,” she said.
The use of virtual reality in the hiring process isn’t exactly new, but the pandemic could serve to accelerate its use, Mains said.
“Virtual reality has long been considered one of those fascinating technologies that is on the horizon,” Mains said. “Things may be different this time around, given the widespread availability of low-cost VR technology, improved content production methods, and the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.”
He suggested that a company “could simulate behavior and assess abilities using a virtual reality instrument. It will likely be many years before these types of simulations are sophisticated enough to be used in significant assessments , but now would be a good time to start working on them.”
Some companies are testing these situations, but VR is currently being used primarily to provide realistic job previews or, as Gaskell noted, virtual tours where social distancing is still prevalent. Others use virtual reality for integration and training activities.
Virtual reality in practice
Technology is also being used to help specific types of applicants, such as veterans re-entering the civilian workforce. Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, Launched During the Pandemic, Offers Veterans, Military Spouses, and Military Transitioning to the Civilian Workforce Mock Interview Scenarios .
The university partnered with Accenture to develop and build a VR app. The tool leverages IBM’s Watson AI technology to identify key areas for improvement, providing users with insights into their performance.
Using Oculus Rift, users participate in virtual reality interview simulations and interact with virtual interviewers for a real-world experience. The tool also provides recorded greetings from real military-connected individuals who share their insights and experiences via video. This Artificial Intelligence Designed for Employment (AIDE) VR experience was rolled out to 18 military institutions in fall 2021.
There are signs that virtual interactions will continue to be prevalent even after pandemic fears subside, and for good reason. The ability to give employees a realistic idea of what working at a company might be like before an interview even takes place can help weed out candidates who might not be a good fit.
In addition, virtual reality can help human resources professionals and recruiters assess the skills of candidates for certain types of positions. Rather than making decisions based on what candidates say they can do, virtual reality can help companies see and assess what tasks they can actually do. This is an area that will likely see continued expansion and experimentation in 2022.
Lin Grensing-Pophal is a freelance writer in Chippewa Falls, Wis.