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Transforming Recruitment with Virtual Reality

August 20, 2018

Virtual reality (VR) has been around for decades with the first head-mounted display created in the 1960s. Despite gaining great notoriety in the 1990s, it has only been in the past few years that the technology has become a mass consumer reality. VR can be deployed in a range of ways and has been typically utilized in entertainment and gaming. Despite VR being available on most new smartphones, Universum found that while only 3% of people use VR currently, about 30% think that it will transform their workplace in the next 10 years.

What is it?

VR technology enables users to experience and interact with a three-dimensional environment by putting on a head-mounted display that tracks the individual's head movements. The use of VR enables users to have a more engaging experience, as they can interact with an environment that does not exist and have more of a visceral experience. Technology success is defined by the end-user experience. As the technology’s popularity continues to grow on the consumer side, its use in recruitment is currently being explored.

How is it being used?

virtual reality in recruiting

VR’s current primary application seems to be as an employer branding tool and its use as a differentiator. The technology enables users to be presented with an environment that can enable the candidate to get a sense of the role. The British Army created a VR recruitment experience including tank driving, parachute jumping, climbing, and combat training. The core purpose of this was to attract candidates, and they received 66% more applications after using it at roadshows.

The technology is being also used by organizations at later stages in the recruitment process. For example, Lloyds Banking Group has used it for graduate recruitment. In this instance, the candidate will have complete freedom of movement within a 360-degree virtual world and use tracked motion controls to move virtual objects. The bank said the move will allow it to test applicants in situations that would otherwise be impossible in a normal interview.


  • It's Immersive: Many online tests have utilized a variety of approaches to make assessments immersive, e.g., multimedia content and innovative design. VR technology has the potential to take this immersion to another level and providing an immersive experience will enable individuals to have an amazing work experience.
  • It's Realistic: A survey by Korn Ferry found that 39% of employers state new hires leave within their first year because the role was not what they expected. VR could potentially reduce employee turnover by providing candidates with a more realistic preview of what a day on the job would look like and allow candidates to get a better sense of the company culture.

Key considerations:

  • Accessibility: Some have argued that the consumer market for VR could potentially minimize the effects of disability, improve quality of life, and enhance social participation. However, from a recruitment and testing perspective you would like all users to have the same experience and not be limited by the environment.
  • Familiarity: Despite VR tech’s rapid growth in recent years, it’s still nowhere near the level of ubiquity that smartphones and desktops have managed to achieve. While the 6.3 million VR headsets sold in 2016 is an impressive step in the right direction for a new technology, that number is relatively small considering that 1.5 billion smartphones were sold over that same period. Familiarity to assessment types is typically cited as a potential issue for test takers, with a lack of familiarity impacting their performance. Therefore, the familiarity of VR may be an issue that impacts test takers and needs to be considered when utilizing this technology.

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Ali Shalfrooshan is a Managing R&D Consultant at PSI Services LLC.

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Claire McCue Claire McCue is the Manager of Digital Marketing and PR at PSI. She specializes in content marketing for the talent management, leadership, higher education, certification, and licensing industries.