More on HRM

What assessing a candidate’s strengths through VR looks like

When it comes to finding the right candidate for a role there are a plethora of qualities you need to consider, but what if you could shake the process up with VR?

A couple years back VR was everywhere, you could even buy a headset from Cotton On but now it seems the hype has tapered off.

According to Gartner, this is because it’s transitioning from hype tech to something more established.

“Gartner expects it will take 5 to ten years before [VR] reaches a mature level,” principal research analyst at Gartner Tuong Huy Nguyen says. “Businesses already experiment with VR, but they’re hesitant to fully commit.”

For VR to be accepted widely Gartner says VR hardware needs convenience and control.

Cappfinity is a company that is overcoming those challenges through their recruitment and development solution that uses 6 degrees of freedom. However with a high cost, every company may not be able to afford it.

Nevertheless, it’s an interesting look into how you can assess a candidate’s strengths in a fun way.

Degrees of VR

Degrees of freedom in VR represent the ability for someone to move and interact in a space. Six degrees of freedom represents the total movement you would use in 3D space (so real life), half of that represents half the amount of movement.

“What’s often used in gaming is three degrees of freedom, which are limited and passive options where you’re watching things. It would allow for something like a company tour,” Lucy Zucker, head of client success at Cappfinity says.

“Whereas with six degrees of freedom, a candidate can move around freely, use their hands, have total immersion so that you’re interacting in the virtual world in a way which convinces your brain that you’re really there.”

Cappfinity invited me to come along to test out their Steam VR and HTV Vive hardware.

Through VR, Cappfinity assesses candidates by scoring them on over 20 different strengths like persistence, detail and risk. Currently there are 14 environments which can be customised to analyse, or develop, particular characteristics and abilities.

Zucker says there are four main objectives to their VR assessment:

  • Support diversity and equal opportunity
  • Deliver a robust and valid assessment
  • Deliver an amazing candidate experience
  • Enhance the client brand

Virtual reality

The virtual world setup involved a 5x5m (rough estimate) square marked out with yellow tape and two cameras in opposite corners. The equipment that I used was a headset, and a controller for each hand.With my eyes closed, Zucker placed the headset over my head where it covered my eyes and ears. When I opened my eyes again I was met with a reception room and an elevator.

Because you’re in a limited space, to transition from room to room you enter an elevator. This means you maintain the illusion of being in a real space, but can still experience more than the one room.

The first room I ‘walked’ into from the elevator was like a lecture hall from a university. In front of me was a podium facing rows of empty chairs. Zucker instructed me to walk to the podium and introduce myself.

Once I introduced myself Zucker replied “the chairs in the back can’t hear you,” and it became very clear this room could be used to train me in public speaking or presentations.

“In the conference hall we assess learning agility or credibility and we mostly use this room for development,” Zucker says.

On top of that there was an iPad in the room which I was encouraged to throw – it felt amazing.

Zucker decided to challenge me a little bit and had me take the elevator to a room full of puzzles. A voice spoke in my headset instructing me to complete as many puzzles as possible in 5 minutes.

The first puzzle I attempted was balancing two cylindrical cones on top of each other for ten seconds – which I failed to do.

“We test how you handle ambiguous situations as well as how agile you are. Will you take time to read each puzzle, spend a majority of your time on one or two puzzles, or give up on one and move on? There are so many possibilities,” Zucker said.

Going up the elevator, and into the next room I encountered futuristic decor and models of spaceships and buildings such Big Ben, a pyramid and the World Trade Centre.

Zucker stopped talking when I entered this room and there was no voice in my headset, so I started reading each model description and – feeling pretty powerful – I picked up the Burj Khalifa, hurled it across the room and exclaimed “I just threw the tallest building in the world!”

Zucker told me this exhibition room assesses curiosity, because without instruction the candidate is free to do whatever they want. They could stay still and await instructions, ask questions, walk around and inspect objects, or throw buildings around.


The final room drove home the fact that VR engages not only your eyes and ears but your whole body.

While in the elevator, Zucker asked me “how are you with heights?”

The elevator doors opened and I was standing on what can only be described as a cliff edge inside a cavern. Opposite me, across the chasm, was a similar edge and a red button. Connecting the two cliff edges was a sliver metal plank, which I was instructed to walk across in order to press the button.

I was scared. My palms started to sweat and I couldn’t bring myself to walk across the virtual plank, knowing full well I was standing on solid, moss green carpeted ground.

According to Zucker only 10 per cent of participants can complete this task.

“We currently use this room for demonstration purposes only – unless you were going for cave tour guide or window cleaner role,” Lucy says.

Who you can assess

Zucker says for the most part services and professional industries have sought out Cappfinity to assess executives and graduates but that doesn’t necessarily exclude any other industries or roles.

“For a Mcdonald’s candidate VR would allow us to understand how you treat customers, how you handle ambiguous situations, your resilience and persistence.” It’s hard to imagine VR recruitment would scale to a workforce requirement like that – hiring for lower skill roles is more about processing volume than it is vetting candidates.

But who knows? Gartner says by 2022, 70 per cent of enterprises will be experimenting with immersive technologies for not only consumer use but enterprise use as well. It will be interesting to see if that experimentation takes root in recruitment, and all of our future job interviews will take place in a virtual world. If so, let’s hope I get a little less scared of heights.

Understand how to create an effective, reliable and valid selection process, supported by behavioural interviewing techniques to make sound recruitment decisions.

Leave a reply

  Subscribe to receive comments  
Notify me of
More on HRM