Beyond Entertainment: Virtual Reality in Personnel Assessment

Abhinav Raj

Abhinav Raj, Writer

Virtual reality gamers with faster completion times show higher intelligence and can boost their job prospects, according to a recent study by the University of Cologne and others. Does VR have a future in hiring and recruitment? We explore.  

For many years, hiring and recruitment processes across industries have remained largely stagnant. 

Employers rely on traditional methods of recruitment involving résumés, cover letters, competency tests and interviews to evaluate the suitability of candidates in a role—a process that can be slow, inefficient, lacking in objectivity and often laced with subjective biases. 

Amid this ‘war for talent’ in an increasingly globalizing, complex and dynamic economy, there has been a growing interest in deploying new and innovative ways to find and source talent for businesses. 

Taking the age-old process of finding talent a step ahead, researchers at the University of Cologne, the Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences and the University of Liechtenstein have spearheaded research to explore the applications of virtual reality (VR) in personnel assessment—with some remarkable findings. 

The recently published study, entitled ‘Intelligence at play: game-based assessment using a virtual-reality application’ prefaces the lucrative promise of a gamified approach to personnel assessment, stating that several studies in the academic literature have evidenced links between video games and the development or enhancement of intellectual and cognitive abilities.

(Image: James Yarema on Unsplash)

In their study, Dr Markus Weinmann among other researchers tested the viability of virtual reality games in evaluating the on-job performance of 103 candidates through a commercial VR game called the “Job Simulator”, followed by a paper-and-pencil test called ‘BIS-4’ that gauges a wide range of intellectual abilities. 

The analysis revealed that, among the pool of participants, the ones who completed the tasks quicker possessed higher levels of general intelligence and capacity to process information. The capacity of candidates to process information followed an inverse-proportion relationship with the time spent playing the game—implying the fewer the number of minutes spent playing the game, the greater the processing capacity.  

The findings of the study seem to suggest that VR-enabled methods of gamified assessment can be a viable approach to evaluating a prospective candidate’s on-job performance—and can thus prove to be a valuable tool in the hands of human resource (HR) practitioners in identifying talent. 

(Image: Christina on Unsplash)

“I think this is a really exciting development for HR and it opens up lots of exciting potential and possibilities for more engaging, accurate and interesting R&S, and appealing to a wider diversity of applicants,” commented Dr Jonathan Smith, a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management at the University of Exeter Business School, in a statement to UX Connections. 

As traditional recruitment methods continue to face challenges in the modern economy, it seems that VR-enabled gamified assessment can potentially provide a more engaging approach for HR practitioners to identify and source talent. 

As technology continues to advance, it will undoubtedly shape the future of hiring and recruitment. However, the extent to which these changes are embraced and implemented by organizations remains to be seen. 

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