by Jason Compton

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are becoming less expensive, more powerful and versatile, more accessible, and easier to code. That’s spurring a wave of tech-use innovation in a wide range of business functions and processes, including some at the heart of the human resources (HR) department.

The question at this point isn’t whether AR and VR have a place in HR but rather how far and how fast they’ll grow. High-profile organizations, including Toyota and Lloyds Banking Group, are incorporating VR experiences into recruiting activities. And a recent Society for Human Resource Management overview of AR’s potential in the workplace found that AR could help companies train millions of manufacturing workers in 40-50 percent less time than conventional methods would require.

Using AR and VR isn’t just about reaching tech-minded candidates or early adopters. These technologies offer new ways to connect with job seekers, particularly younger ones, who may be more comfortable expressing themselves in a real-time digital environment.

And they can make life a lot easier for HR professionals, too.

Virtually Already Hired

It’s a classic way to give top candidates the feeling that they’re already part of the family: Greet them with business cards or door tags showing their names and projected titles.

An AR experience lets you refresh that technique for the 21st century by showing a candidate how the entire workplace will change after he or she joins the company.

A digital overlay can, for example, display the team members, equipment, customers and other resources that will all be at the new hire’s beck and call.

Avatars: Showing Off A Company’s Personality

Welcoming new hires and high-potential candidates with a message from a founder or top executive isn’t a new idea, but AR and VR can give the experience much more immediacy and interactivity.

Beyond simply offering new hires a video in which a camera pans to show the company leader walking through a well-lighted open-plan office space full of happy, productive employees, companies can create an interactive avatar of that leader.

“Avatars are a modern way to make a sketch of your leaders and make them more approachable,” said Susan Hanold, vice president, HCM Strategic Advisory Services, at ADP. “It’s a way to make them relatable and pull their characters out.”

Overlays Offering Background Info

Using AR to hold recruiting and hiring conversations lets you put complicated concepts or overwhelming new facts in plain view without derailing a discussion.

In any big hiring decision, elements like internal acronyms and intricate organizational charts may potentially confuse or distract a candidate. To clarify and streamline the process, a hiring manager can use AR to provide illustrated overlays of important facts and a guided tour of the company’s structure whenever a question arises.

Even interviewers who do their homework on a candidate can forget key facts about his or her background during the discussion. An AR overlay can be enhanced with on-demand reminders of a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses and with professed areas of focus and interest.

These instant contextual reminders cut down on the need to surreptitiously glance at a CV, making an interview that much more of a natural, unselfconscious interaction.

In-The-Moment Immersion

Informing a candidate about a position’s unique challenges and opportunities can help pique interest. But actually showing candidates what a day on the job looks like can give them a depth of understanding that no war story can.

With 360-degree video and VR ride-along experiences, organizations can immerse candidates in the work they’ll be doing, even if those candidates are located halfway around the world. On-the-job VR simulations can even give prospective hires a chance to experience some stressful situations they may face. These simulations give the company a chance to see how potential recruits respond, while keeping experiences safe and private.

Enabling Futuristic Problem-Solving

VR also provides tools with which to pose new problem-solving challenges to candidates. Infamous paper-and-pencil interview questions — for example, “How much paint does it take to coat this airline’s fleet?” — favor a particular type of mathematical reasoning and narrative skill set. A generation raised on Minecraft, on the other hand, might find it easier to demonstrate, in real time, how they would build a workflow to not only answer that question but also do the work in less time.

Delivering these immersive experiences to job seekers doesn’t require high-end drones and specialized VR development. Most smartphones can create seamless panoramas, and 360-degree cameras are readily available and affordable. Once you take the first steps in enhancing the recruiting process with digital realities, the next-best investments will become much clearer.

Jason Compton is a writer and reporter with extensive experience in enterprise tech. He is the former executive editor of CRM Magazine.

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