VR helps students find the right jobs – and present their ‘best selves’ in interviews

The technology’s ability to simulate the intensity of a real-life interview is invaluable for soon-to-be graduates

COVID-19 has had a considerable impact on Britain’s job market, with 65% fewer job vacancies in 2020 compared with the same period the previous year.

Even now, as the economy starts to show signs of recovery, young adults are bearing the brunt of job cuts. Youth long-term unemployment has hit a five-year high, with more than 200,000 under 25s out of work for more than six months, and almost half of students say the pandemic has diminished their chances of finding a job.

The most frustrating part for many is the lack of feedback when unsuccessful at an interview. But even when they do succeed, one in three graduates end up being mismatched to the jobs they find after leaving university. These young workers face poorer prospects and lower earnings over their careers than peers who secured better fitting jobs.

Finding your personal fit

When job opportunities are scarce, young people often feel compelled to apply for every position going. But even highly qualified candidates are unlikely to be successful in interviews if they can’t demonstrate that they’re a good personal fit for the role.

Personal fit is a measure of how well a person’s strengths, characteristics, skills and experience align with the position, culture and team they’re applying for.

Unfortunately, 30% of students find themselves in unsuitable careers because they need help understanding how to:

  • Define their skills and attributes
  • Match them with different career options
  • Demonstrate this in an interview

Empowering students to better understand their own skills and needs can help match individuals to the right organisations and accelerate their transition into the world of work.

Articulating why you’re a good fit

In a UK study, 64% of young people said they felt confident about their ability to articulate their skills when applying for a job. By contrast, 66% of employers said they had often rejected young candidates because they couldn’t clearly articulate their abilities.

So what’s happening here? Either young people don’t know how to present their best selves or their performance falls apart under pressure.

Presenting your best self

How a person fares in an interview is influenced not only by what they say, but also how they say it.

Many careers counsellors advise learners to video themselves when they practise answering interview questions. But learners often report that they are uncomfortable watching themselves speak and become fixated on details about their hair, face or clothes that irritate them.

…Artificial Intelligence within VR enables us to measure thousands of data points relating to semantic and behavioural aspects of their performance, which a human coach would not be able to pick up on

In VR interview simulators, the candidate is represented by an avatar. This means that they can speak and move as they would in a real interview, but when they watch their performance back, they can review it with a more objective eye, without being distracted by aspects of their own appearance.

Furthermore, Artificial Intelligence within VR enables us to measure thousands of data points relating to semantic and behavioural aspects of their performance, which a human coach would not be able to pick up on. These are then analysed and turned into hyper-personalised feedback that the learner can use to improve their skills, repeating the activity as often as they need until their words and delivery are perfect.

Performing under pressure

Of course, all of this is of limited benefit if, in the heat of the moment, the mind goes blank and it becomes difficult to concentrate on what the interviewer is saying, never mind how to respond.

Many universities offer mock-interviews to allow students to practise answering common interview questions. But in real-life, job interviews are high pressure, high stakes situations that are difficult to replicate in a university setting with a kind careers counsellor – and even less so using self-video tools sitting on your own at home.

It’s not until the student finds themselves sitting in uncomfortable silence in an unfamiliar meeting room, under the judgemental glare of a stranger that the sweaty palms, dry mouth, lightheadedness and palpitations are really felt.

This is where VR can be so valuable in its ability to simulate the intensity of a real-life interview. When a learner puts the headset on, in their mind, they are inside the interview room. Unlike other digital solutions like e-learning and interactive video, the virtual environment envelops your visual and audible field, providing the perfect training ground for the real-life experience– thus empowering students to better understand their own skills and needs, which can ultimately help them land that coveted job.

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