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When applying for a job, there's a difference between visualizing yourself at a company, andphysically seeing yourself at that company—even if you're thousands of miles away. Thanks to virtual reality technology, the latter is becoming a possibility for candidates.

Innovative companies across the globe are turning to VR to not only show off their office spaces, but also test potential employees' skills. Products like the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR allow candidates to see a 360-degree, 3D view of a space, immersing them in the day-to-day experience of a role. And VR doesn't seem to be slowing down: Deloitte Global predicts that the industry will have its first billion dollar year in 2016, with about $700 million coming from hardware sales and around $300 million coming from content sales.

Here's a look at how four major companies are using virtual reality during their recruitment processes.

General Mills

General Mills is using Oculus Rift to up their recruiting efforts with millennials. While attending college job fairs, the famous food company provides potential employees with a peek into the General Mills Golden Valley campus. It's not uncommon to see cereal characters, like the Trix rabbit or Lucky Charms leprechaun, walking around the cafeteria or working out in the employee gym.

“We differentiate ourselves through a high-touch candidate experience," says Scott Swayne, director of U.S. recruiting. “The Oculus Rift technology compliments this beautifully and General Mills is seen as creative and modern."

Jet

The open-office layout of Amazon competitor Jet is filled with snacks, pool tables and amazing views of the Hudson River. But it's hard to communicate these perks to potential candidates over the phone or during Skype calls. One solution? Virtual reality.

In late 2015, Jet started using Samsung's VR gear to tour candidates through its headquarters in New York City, and hopes to expand the VR experience to the Jet offices in Kansas and Nevada soon. “We have a chief people officer and a director of talent experience so that we can ensure Jet is a great place to work for everyone we bring in," CEO Marc Lore tells TechCrunch. “But you can't experience that culture in a day of interviews in conference rooms, so the VR experience is a good way to see what happens over the course of a whole week at Jet." Candidates strapping on Samsung's gear can sit in a meeting at headquarters, "mingle" at happy hour or duck during a Nerf gun battle.

Deutsche Bahn

German railway company Deutsche Bahn is facing a labor crisis: with an aging workforce, the company needs to hire nearly 8,000 people every year for the next four years to replace retiring workers. In an effort to recruit future talent, the company has turned to a futuristic tool—today, candidates can experience different jobs opportunities before applying through virtual reality films. “We want applicants to get a close look over the shoulder of an electrician or a train driver," head of talent acquisition Kerstin Wagner tells Computer Weekly.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia is using virtual reality to change the perception of banks from stodgy institutions to innovators. CommBank takes their virtual reality technology to university campuses across the country in order to recruit innovative minds, and distance themselves from their competition by showing candidates their new way of thinking, not just telling. Throughout the game-like VR experience, candidates walk through a series of challenges that current employees may encounter, and then learn the benefits and consequences of their decisions.

Embedded photos: Creative Commons  /  Header photo: Twenty20