Virtual reality, real jobs: Accenture’s innovative approach to graduate recruitment

15 February 2019 4 min. read

Job-seeking graduates who have spent time playing video games may be given a slight edge on the competition, thanks to Accenture’s pioneering approach to sourcing talent using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). 

The global consulting and technology firm has designed a recruitment process, from initial applications to assessments and interviews, that will assist in building a diverse workforce while giving candidates a glimpse at the digital innovation embedded in the firm’ day-to-day operations. The process will identify candidates’ key skills and potential, and aims to increase diversity by eliminating bias, leveraging data science and machine learning to predict a candidate’ on-the-job performance. The move comes at an opportune time, with the VR and AR market expected to soar to $170 billion by 2022

“Our new graduate assessment programme combines Accenture’s commitment to building a diverse workforce with our drive to infuse digital and technology innovation into everything we do,” Adrian Love, recruitment director for Accenture in the UK & Ireland, said. “Our approach is designed to level the playing field by ensuring that everyone, no matter their background, colour, or gender, is evaluated based on talent alone.”

A glimpse into the candidates’ true self

Using technologies such as VR and AR, in perhaps a strange way, will make the hiring process more human. It’s less formal, more engaging, and even allows candidates to have a bit of fun. It will also show companies how potential hires could act in real-life situations. But that’s not to say the old-school, sit-down, suit-and-tie interview days are gone for good – at least for the time being. 

“We will still be interviewing people face to face and indeed the whole approach actually allows us to spend more time having deeper conversations with candidates. However, by adding the immersive online and virtual reality assessments into our process we are significantly improving our insight into each individual’s true potential,” Love said.

Accenture UK introduces virtual reality in graduate recruitment

Companies want skills, not scores

In preparation for the next generation of hires, Accenture has already removed point requirements from University Colleges and Admissions Services, a UK-based organisation which controls the application process for Britishuniversities. This will allow a broader and more diverse crop of candidates to apply for roles. The firm also takes on entry-level employees without university qualifications through its apprenticeship programme. This is essential, given the fast-changing nature of businesses in all industries, thanks to new technology and the skillsets required to effectively manage them – 77% of companies, for example, are hiring for roles that didn’t exist a year ago. This means that companies are increasingly looking to hire candidates with the right skills needed for the present and the future, even if there is not a current job opening. 

Now, Accenture candidates who successfully complete the application process are invited to participate in the next stage of the recruitment process, which includes a VR assessment that causes candidates to show their true, almost instinctual selves. In one scenario, candidates equipped with VR technology will enter an Egyptian tomb, where they will use problem-solving skills to crack a hieroglyphics code. Another has candidates run a VR conference call with a client. There will also be an immersive online assessment that analyses cognitive and behavioural skills using AR, focusing on data interpretation, collaboration, and intra-workplace agility. 

“The application process was so different to anything else I’ve applied for and I really enjoyed the immersive virtual reality tasks which gave me a chance to see what consulting life is really like. I think it’s important for companies to hire people from a range of backgrounds and I was reassured to see that reflected in the interview process,” Tolu Olojo, who successfully completed the process and an analyst at Accenture, said.

Accenture recruited approximately 600 graduates in 2018 for its offices across the UK, including those in London, Manchester, Newcastle, and Edinburgh. The firm receives an average of 40,000 graduate applications each year in the UK alone. The new process hopes to reduce the time of the recruitment process from several weeks to a few days.