Virtual reality – the answer to tech recruiters’ prayers?

Job interviews are rarely fun for anyone on either side of the table. For candidates, there’s the pressure to perform, to walk a tightrope between doing and saying the right things and being “themselves” enough to give the recruiter or team leader a real sense of what’s going on. that they will bring to the team. And for recruiters and managers, they mean taking time off from their other duties, matching resumes with actual candidates, and getting a feel for who fits what role – if any. Artificial intelligence (AI) has been used in recruitment for some time, usually as a first-stage filter for potentially hundreds of CVs – although it has had a very checkered history, which has included the imposition of a kind of “digital bigotry” or “digital misogyny”. .’ But AI and virtual reality could have a growing role to play in ensuring your business has the staff it needs – in a recruitment process that has a chance of leveling the playing field and erasing some ingrained prejudices.

An inconvenient truth

What rooted prejudices?

We’re sorry to tell you this, white people, but you’re more inherently racist than you think. Don’t take our word for it, though – research by Katherine DeCelles and her colleagues at Harvard Business School proved that ethnic minority candidates got almost twice so many interviews when they simply “cleared” their name. And that was before they walked through the door.

There is also a misogyny embedded in the recruitment process – regardless of data that shows men typically apply for jobs they only meet 60% of the role requirement, while women typically only apply for jobs they feel they can meet 100% of the role profile, there is an unfortunate likelihood that hiring managers (certainly male, at least) have an unconscious bias in favor of hiring a male who presents as a male when it is available from a pool of equally qualified applicants of other sexes and genders.

All of this in an unfortunate hangover of the nature of western society, which is basically a pyramid of trapdoors, with wealthy, white, cis, male-looking, heterosexual, non-disabled, conventionally attractive people at the top, and everyone who differs to some extent from this combination descends the pyramid of a trap door for each point of difference. The more we learn, the more trapdoors we discover, including one for people with neurodivergence and one for women (in particular) who have children (which underlies the societal misogyny behind the idea that women “should under “normal” circumstances being the primary caregivers of a family, and therefore cannot fully concentrate on their work).

Although we may not be intentionally being biased against anyone in the world, much of our Western paradigm of decision-making about people has been sculpted by this pyramid, resulting in continued bias against ethnic minority applicants, women, people with disabilities or neurodivergent, and others who have at least one trap against them.

Misogynistic AI

AI, as we said, was originally meant to be a means of weeding out these learned bigotries – machines, after all, have no emotions and should therefore be unable to learn the unkind impressions of one group or another. Unfortunately, AI depends for its neutrality on two things: the mindset and level of understanding of its programmers, and the dataset from which its learning process begins.

It is a combination that has legendaryly let down in the old days. In particular, no less a company than Amazonusing AI to screen candidates for high-level hires, discovered that the algorithm negatively selected qualified women because, tellingly, they did not match previous human hires in similar positions in one important respect: they were not men.

After unsuccessfully trying to fix the algorithm for some time, Amazon disbanded the team that was working on the AI ​​recruiting algorithm and returned to human judgment.

The virtual reality difference

But a combination of AI and virtual reality could be about to turn the tide. Certainly, we are currently moving towards an interview in virtual reality coaching model, where, for example, candidates can test themselves in a virtual reality interview scenario (with avatars that can have random names and avatars that allow the candidate to present themselves as they wish).

Companies like UK-based Bodyswaps are already developing these virtual reality interview practice modules, which, with an AI component acting as an interviewer, allow candidates to hone their interviewing skills. maintenance. and potentially overcome any inherent societal bias on the part of human investigators.

The purpose of these virtual reality interview practice modules is not only to build a candidate’s confidence, but also to give them useful feedback on what they did wrong and what they did right. done, so that he can improve his performance at his next interview. In a sense, the use of AI and virtual reality can gamify the interview process, so candidates can keep trying until the virtual interviewer is ready to offer them the job.

While every company and every team is necessarily different, this type of no-stakes but real-time interview practice module can potentially improve a candidate’s chances of securing a position in which they could significantly shine.

Interview in virtual reality in real time?

Beyond interview preparation, some companies are developing and deploying virtual reality and AI in combination to deliver a complete, live interview experience.

From big players like Microsoft (through its mixed reality offering HoloLens) to independent SMBs offering VR interviewing software to companies and recruiters, demand for VR interviewing technology is growing across all industries.

Not only can this put candidates at ease, but it can truly remove some of the societal biases inherent in the process, because with an AI interviewing an avatar, even the algorithm is based not so much on previous people in the role, but on the job role and what the candidate actually says during the interview, disconnected from ethnic and sexist prejudices.

Additionally, companies are finding that the sometimes stilted responses of face-to-face video interviewing are significantly mitigated by using virtual reality AI interviewing.

Between reducing bias, building candidate confidence, and providing a more natural and intuitive response to the most ideal candidates, virtual reality interviewing is becoming a technology solution that can help overcome the growing staff shortage plaguing the tech industry. especially.

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