Immersive Assessments: Evolution Before Revolution

Immersive Assessments: Evolution Before Revolution

06.06.2018 By Breanne.Harris

With the explosive growth in talent acquisition technologies from Virtual Reality to AI and Machine Learning, it is undeniable that the future of talent assessment is primed for a dramatic transformation. Is HR ready for the revolution?

In our last blog post, Adam Vassar shared some results from our SIOP Conference poll on the use of talent assessments in a Virtual Reality environment. We asked Industrial-Organizational Psychologists how they envisioned Virtual Reality adoption in the workplace, and they saw a clear value proposition for both Employee Training (93%) and Candidate Assessment (63%). But excitement over technology is only half of the equation. To see true widespread adoption of emerging technology, HR tech buyers/decision makers must be able to cast a vision for how Virtual Reality (or any tech) will be adopted and supported within the organization.

Not unlike the transition from paper-based assessments to today’s mobile-first assessment design, there were challenges along the way. There was certainly a time when HR leaders understood the enormous benefits of online assessment administration but had to wait for the candidate base to catch up and exhibit mass adoption of technology (internet access, smartphone use, etc) before making the transition. With research firm Tractica predicting that 200 million Virtual Reality headsets will be sold by 2020, it seems VR headsets aren’t just for gamers anymore. So, are we ready for the VR revolution?

According to SIOP Conference attendees, the future is bright for immersive 3D simulations.

Among the VR fan base, 51% of respondents said VR is the wave of the future. They may not know exactly how or when it will happen, but they believe VR-based assessments and learning content are inevitable. Additionally, 34% of respondents said “Organizations are ready for VR based assessments now.”

And while 15% of respondents said they’re not sure what the future holds for VR-based assessments, not a single respondent chose the “VR is nothing but a fad” as a response. So, ready or not, here VR comes? Maybe; maybe not.

To understand the increasing demand for Virtual Reality assessments, it’s important to examine what is fueling that interest. Consistently, individuals who experienced the VR customer service simulation we designed said it would create that magical, memorable candidate experience everyone desires in this age of candidate-centered recruitment processes. The solution strikes a comfortable balance between satisfying I/O’s who value face valid, predictive simulations with a realistic job preview and candidates who may opt out of long, over-engineered and impersonal selection processes.  Because it is not a widely adopted tool yet, an organization that adopts VR assessments will deliver a stand-out candidate experience and differentiates themselves from competitors. Candidates walk away feeling like they benefitted from the experience and are feel informed of the real-life daily experience in that role.

Clearly, VR assessments address several issues plaguing the talent acquisition industry presently, but if we objectively evaluate those challenges, the issue was never the technology. No one is asking for VR because laptops are slow. No one is demanding VR because mobile phones are outdated. The tech isn’t the problem, it’s the experience we must solve. While the VR revolution is coming, so is the assessment evolution.

There must be another option between a 206-item multiple choice/Likert-scale assessment that generates a 40-page narrative PDF report and shiny solutions like VR. An Oculus headset isn’t the only way to create an immersive candidate experience.

The next evolution of talent assessments will combine the best of worlds and benefit from advances in AI and other emerging technologies. Next gen assessments will be visually dynamic and uniquely interactive. Candidates will break free from the Next button and find themselves invested in a storyline where the decisions they make at each step determine the next set of challenges presented to the candidate. Additionally, the next evolution of assessments won’t be limited to measuring behaviors and ability separately but instead will measure a candidate more holistically. Finally, with increasingly popular technology such as chatbots, natural language processing, and machine learning, candidates will no longer find themselves clicking radio button after radio button. Instead, they will take an active role answering questions audibly or via text to a system that intelligently categorizes, measures, and learns from responses as it gathers more data.

This new wave of engaging digital assessments will be the happy medium both candidates and HR desires. First and foremost, the assessments remain rooted in robust science and become even better predictors of performance while not draining the Talent Acquisition department’s budget by requiring additional technology. Candidates benefit from an engaging, memorable experience that simulates the real work environment they are seeking. The next wave of talent assessments will redefine the future of the assessment industry.

And the future is not as far away as you might think.