Innovative Recruitment Techniques: The Power of VR Technology

A study that has been recently conducted by the University of Cologne suggests that virtual reality games might change the traditional hiring processes we are familiar with. Such games have power to shorten the processes of employment that can sometimes be long and excruciating.

How is this possible?

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vr in hiring processes

Illustration: MilicaM

What was once only a part of science fiction films and VFX is now becoming reality. VR and AR – virtual and augmented reality – are gradually being incorporated in our everyday lives, starting from gaming to even therapy. 

One area where AR and VR could make significant progress is hiring and recruiting. We already know that application process can sometimes be extremely tedious. For this reason, some candidates may eventually give up the application. 

Even if they decide to proceed with the application they may reach another nerve-wracking stage – assessment tests. These tests are taken so that the candidate can prove their capacities for the position. But to get to that point and be honored to take an assessment test, potential employees may need to compete with a great number of other candidates and carry out sometimes rather exhausting tasks. The entire process might last for months. 

However, such grueling recruiting and hiring processes can be significantly shortened by skipping some steps. But how to prove that you are a good fit if you skip assessment tests?  

Please welcome virtual reality. 

VR games as assessment and intelligence tests 

The idea of incorporating virtual and augmented reality is not as new as we may think. It was debated a few years ago when technology was nowhere near today.  

As early as 2016, Lloyd Bank announced it would be using VR in the process of selecting graduates. Furthermore, Accenture, a Dublin-headquartered company specializing in IT, implemented a puzzle game in Egyptian style as a VR exercise to evaluate graduates who were applying for tech roles.  

Unfortunately, judging by the circumstances, it remained lingering as a nice idea to be implemented, and not many companies dared to embark on such a venture.   

Now, how can VR assist in hiring and recruitment processes, you may ask. For a genuinely immersive on-the-job assessment of a candidate’s true talent, recruiters can mix VR recruitment techniques with skills evaluations. A completely immersive skills exam can emphasize information needed to be successful in a career as recruiters move away from deceptive resumes. 

A study dubbed Intelligence at play: game-based assessment using a virtual-reality application conducted by Markus Weinmann and his researchers at the University of Cologne argues that there is a more fun way to evaluate a candidate’s capacities – via VR games. The study was published in the journal Virtual Reality and involved a sample size of 103 college students.  

The participants played a VR game named Job Simulator which featured a variety of simulations with tasks of varying degrees of complexity. In addition to playing the game, the participants also took The Berlin Intellect Structure (BIS-4) test, which gauges general intellect. The final results were quite interesting. 

Who scored better? 

The German researchers discovered that a compelling link between results of the game and the test. Namely, participants who were faster to finish the game had better scores on the intelligence test. These results suggest that, as a reliable indicator of intellectual and cognitive capacities of candidates, virtual reality games could be helpful as supplemental tools for predicting job performance.  

Namely, repeated HR studies have shown that one of the best indicators of future work performance is general intelligence. With this in mind, video games that demonstrate could meaningfully support evaluation procedures that companies take.  

How come video games proved to be as good as general intelligence tests? The secret lies in the so-called “stealth assessment” that games allow for. Simply put, the candidates are not as aware they are being scrutinized and evaluated. This may further lead to less test anxiety, hinder faking and increase candidate engagement.  


Candidates may get so immersed in the game, thus letting their true behavior emerge. Consequently, this fosters the accuracy of the evaluation instead of being limited or affected by social desirability and inclination of candidates to analyze their actions during the assessment.

Though outstanding, VR-based evaluations don’t come without specific limitations. 

The drawbacks of VR games in assessment  

The primary downside of candidate assessment via VR games is that they can lose their potential to demonstrate a candidate’s intelligence and capacity once they become familiar with the game. Hence, companies tend to “gamify” conventional assessment techniques or implement self-developed games candidates couldn’t prepare for. Even previous gaming experience can affect the results, as gamers typically have a better knowledge and control of both hardware and game mechanics. 

Therefore, ensuring fairness in the process of selection could be a significant challenge of VR games impementation in the hiring processes. Another potential challenge is finding a game which is suitable for all groups of candidates. This requires researching and discovering what game may be adequate to demonstrate and develop applicants’ skills and abilities.   

Finally, VR equipment can be costly and may produce negative side effects like dizziness and cyber sickness with candidates. After all, not everyone is comfortable putting on a goofy-looking headset and playing around.  

It’s vital to note, though, that the correlation between VR games cannot replace conventional intelligence tests. Still, they can be a handy tool in assessing and forecasting job performance. 

Other advantages of VR in hiring processes 

It’s not only hiring managers that can take advantage of VR in the recruiting and hiring process – applicants can benefit as well. VR has the potential to improve this sometimes-agonizing process in several ways.  

A glimpse into workplace culture 

Virtual reality may offer prospective employees a glimpse into the company’s working environment. This is particularly the case if the candidate is interviewed online or is not able to receive the in-person experience.  

Poise evaluation 

Video interviews may not sometimes enable a recruiter to obtain a full picture of a job candidate. In such cases, VR is a good instrument to fill that gap. Namely, VR platforms could offer a recruiter a better understanding of an applicant’s skills and presence compared to traditional video calls.  

Skills assessment 

VR platforms may let a recruiter see if an applicant possesses skills necessary for the position without risking actual equipment should a candidate make an error. For instance, a construction company may implement VR to determine if a candidate is capable of operating construction machine or work on a construction site. 

In addition, VR doesn’t enable a recruiter to have insight into a candidate’s hard skills only; they may get assess to their soft skills as well.  

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