How HR Can Use VR to Create Realistic On-the-Job Experiences

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Virtual reality (VR), or 360-degree video, offers viewers an "immersive" experience, giving them the sense that they are actually engaging in settings and activities that could be miles away — like your workplace. New recruitment technology that features these types of videos provides new options for recruiters. HR leaders and hiring managers are now able to simulate on-the-job experiences as an aid in recruiting, onboarding and training.

Benefits of 360-Degree Videos in Recruiting

When recruiting from a broad geographic radius, 360-degree video can be a great way to help contain, and reduce, the costs of bringing remote candidates in for an interview before they have a good sense of what to expect from the organization and position. These VR experiences can also be a good way to introduce prospective candidates to your organization in very real and personal ways.

"In this day and age where employers are, in many cases, hiring from around the country or people just can't come to their office easily, being able to show, more than describe in words or on a piece of paper, the environment they're going to be working in can be a very powerful recruiting tool," says Mike Perlow, president of Perlow Productions.

Perlow says this could involve everything from showing the facilities themselves to showing actual work areas where people would be working from corporate offices.

Peter Yang, co-founder of ResumeGo, an organization that offers professional resume writing services, agrees. "Many businesses are already using 360-degree video to give potential employees an insider's view of what working at the organization would be like," says Yang. He points to BetterCloud and General Mills as two examples.

Brand Benefits

"Whether or not these videos help increase the likelihood that someone takes an offer at one of these organizations is unclear so far, but the uniqueness and novelty of these videos certainly brings a lot of attention to these businesses and can increase the number of people interesting in applying for a position there," says Yang.

Perlow agrees. "When a business is using virtual reality or 360-degree video it says, 'We're current, we're following recruitment technology and the trends of the future.'" Virtual reality very quickly conveys to candidates what the work environment is like, including the kind of people they'll be working with, he says, which provides an added benefit of allowing employers to visually emphasize their diverse workforce and inclusive culture. Virtual video can be a good way for organizations focused on filling competitive roles drawing from a millennial or Generation Z audience to convey a high-tech, modern image.

Potential Drawbacks

There are some potential downfalls to considering 360-degree video, though. One potential downside could be cost, says Yang. "It's important not to underestimate the time and effort needed to make such a video, as well as the cost of the technology required," he says. "It's no small undertaking, and requires a concerted effort by multiple team members to create a finished product worthy of practical use in the hiring process."

Video fatigue and average viewing time to engage an audience may also prove to be a factor depending on what it is your organization is hoping to communicate. In some cases, this may mean breaking up a longer video into smaller, bite-size segments.

Whether using traditional or 360-degree video, to be effective "the message needs to be real, authentic and transparent," says Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and author of Recruiting in the Age of Googlization. They also need to be brief — 30 to 60 second is best, Wolfe says, pointing out that 95 percent of viewers will abandon the video in two minutes.

Traditional Video Still Resonates

For those concerned about the time, energy and cost that VR might represent, traditional video can still resonate, according to Wolfe. Despite the potential advantages that 360-degree video can offer, traditional video formats remain powerful options to introduce potential employees and candidates to your organziation. "Using video is a growing and essential strategy to use in reaching and engaging candidates," Wolfe says.

No matter the avenue you ultimately decide to explore, today's recruitment technology gives recruiters a number of options to connect with their audiences using visual imagery to provide realistic job previews.

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