Virtual Reality has a real buzz around it at the moment. Every-time you look in the trade press there is a story about another Virtual Reality start-up getting significant funding from venture capital.
The sums are mind-boggling. The question is, will Virtual Reality break out from its bad reputation of the past and become something that is used every day in the recruitment process?
I have presented some arguments for yes and some arguments for no below.
Arguments for Yes – Virtual Reality will be common
Real world assessments: Virtual Reality will give companies the ability to see how candidates react, act and do tasks in the “real world”. For example, it could present a mechanical engineer with a challenge that they will face day-to-day or a front of house receptionist with a situation dealing with an upset customer. It will allow candidates to be assessed on how they react and act in a given setting, challenge or scenario.
Fair and equal interviews: Within a Virtual Reality setting you can give every candidate the same interview experience. Imagine having a correctly the same conversation with every applicant. Imagine then being able to honestly shortlist based on fair and genuinely equal interviews.
Quantifiable date based hiring: Virtual Reality will create data. Data that can be used to make fair judgments based on the actions and outcomes at hand and compare it will include other candidates data.
These are powerful ways that Virtual Reality could in the future make the hiring process fairer, more useful and data-driven. However, it does come with some issues.
Arguments for No – Virtual Reality will not be common
Video interviewing has not taken off. So why would VR?: Look at Skype. Skype has been around for over ten years, the ability to FaceTime on iPhones has been around for circa five years. Both of these features mean that you are able to make video calls to people all the way across the globe. However, how many hiring managers, recruiters or HR personnel use these? I do not have the answer, but it will be small compared to the use of face-to-face interviews. VR may offer a better, quicker method to interview and assessment. That does not mean people will adopt it. Just look at Betamax as an example of better technology not taking off.
Cost/Benefit: Virtual Reality is going to be expensive for implementation for a long while, so although there will be numerous benefits to using VR in the recruitment process, the cost may become a factor. For example, a front of house receptionist position may benefit from selection via a specialist VR program, however, will the cost justify it?
VR recruitment and selection will create new problems: Virtual Reality, if used in the recruitment process, will create its own problems and issues that will have to be overcome. Solutions that may take too much time and money. For example, some people find VR makes them feel a version of car or sea sickness. Now if someone cannot use the VR headset, how can you assess them fairly versus other candidates who can?
Bias will still exist: Virtual Reality recruitment and assessment will only amplify the bias of those who create the technology. Generally, white middle-class well-educated men living in San Fransico and other tech hubs. Without implementation that eliminated the bias at source Virtual Reality could end up creating new or enhancing old recruitment bias.
So will it be used?
Sadly I do not have a crystal ball.
However my gut feeling is that Virtual Reality based assessments will become part of the assessment mix for some industries and positions, but not most. Mainly because as we enter a world of automation and the movement towards a more highly focused service economy, personal skills will still matter, thus face-to-face will mater. VR will have its place. Engineers, Pilots, Haulage Drivers and many other sectors will be able to incorporate this into their current processes.
Virtual Reality’s bright future regarding human resources and talent issues is with training and development. This is where I believe Virtual Reality will really come into its own.
Imagine being able to review and train live face-to-face sales meetings in Virtual Reality? Or rehearse sales calls in a non-rubbish role place setting. It really will beat role play with your boss. Or imagine how it could be used to up-skill our ageing workforce. These users really do mean that the future is bright.
Let’s just hope Virtual Reality will live us to its promise this time around.
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