Nicky Garcea
Co-Founder, President and Global Clients - Talent Acquisition and Management Cappfinity Follow

On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks to Nicky from Cappfinity about using VR for recruiting.

Some Conversation Highlights:

And it really in recent years and months is exploding in terms of what you can do with it. So to your point, initially, yes, it goes way beyond a job description. It’s much more about showing job purpose, job culture. We did a recent survey across the US with YouGov and the Wall Street Journal and 80% of candidates during this pandemic, post pandemic period wanted to understand company culture and before it was around 49%. So we know that providing really in-depth insights incredibly important to a candidate. And in VR we can produce a number of things. If it was at the very front end trying to attract candidates to the organization we can do simple things, we can do office tours, we can provide insight into the CSR strategy of the business, we can allow candidates to go into different rooms and understand things that the organization stands for.

As we go further into a recruitment process and perhaps we want to understand how a candidate actually performs a certain behavior, then as you suggest you can get into providing a scenario. We have one room in our VR suite where we can provide a 360 meeting with real people looking at the candidate asking questions and the candidate expecting to respond. In another room we can look at quality assurance, we can take people essentially up in the Cappfinity lift and every room they come out of we can assess and quantify a different behavior and a different skill.

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Tune in for the full conversation.

Listening time: 21 minutes

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Announcer (00:00):

This is RecruitingDaily’s Recruiting Live podcast. Where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week we take one over complicated topic and break it down so that your three-year-old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup.

 

William Tincup (00:34):

Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today we have Nicky on from Cappfinity. And our discussion is going to be about VR for recruiting. Very exciting topic. I’ve been looking forward to having this discussion with Nicky. So why don’t we jump into introductions. Nicky, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and Cappfinity?

 

Nicky Garcea (00:58):

Of course, William, thank you. So my name’s Nicky Garcea. I’m one of the co-founders of Cappfinity and set the business up over 17 years ago. And Cappfinity is a talent acquisition and management business and we specialize in behaviors and skills based assessments and solutions. And VR really sits in our proposition because we want to provide solutions that are authentic and immersive for the candidate because our data would suggest that gets the best from the candidate and they learn a little bit about the job along the way.

 

William Tincup (01:32):

Love this. So a number of things, so we’re going to wander around a little bit, but where does one start with VR? If someone has not started, especially talent acquisition for professionals that are listening to this, if they’ve just not done this bit yet, where do they start?

 

Nicky Garcea (01:52):

It’s a great question, William. And I think the first thing to acknowledge is that VR has really evolved quite substantially. So when we first started using VR in recruitment and for candidate experience, it involved a lot of kit, it involved a long wire coming out the back because the production of it wouldn’t look right without that level of Wi-Fi. And now particularly in this new world, you can produce really high quality content using the Oculus Quest kit and a couple of others. And really for people who want to try it out, I would say get your hands on an Oculus Quest, have a look at the types of environments that you can see and just start to experiment and consider how your organization might be able to use virtual reality to onboard people, give insight into the roles that you want to recruit them for. And we are really seeing it being used right from the acquisition of talent so at recruitment fairs, right then to final stage supporting interviews and supporting decision making on candidates.

 

William Tincup (03:00):

So do you see it now or do you see it in the near futures like a… Because you said immersive. I was thinking about a day in the life you can see behind the veil, because the job descriptions pretty flat no matter how we try to make them really jazzy up, but it’s still pretty flat. And one things I love about VR and metaverse in general is it’s not flat.

 

Nicky Garcea (03:25):

It’s certainly not flat.

 

William Tincup (03:27):

There’s some texture to it.

 

Nicky Garcea (03:28):

Yes.

 

William Tincup (03:28):

So do you see a peak behind the veil or even scenarios or basically situations where you put candidates in so that they’re really going to taste for what the job looks like?

 

Nicky Garcea (03:41):

Yeah. All those things. And it really in recent years and months is exploding in terms of what you can do with it. So to your point, initially, yes, it goes way beyond a job description. It’s much more about showing job purpose, job culture. We did a recent survey across the US with YouGov and the Wall Street Journal and 80% of candidates during this pandemic, post pandemic period wanted to understand company culture and before it was around 49%. So we know that providing really in-depth insights incredibly important to a candidate. And in VR we can produce a number of things. If it was at the very front end trying to attract candidates to the organization we can do simple things, we can do office tours, we can provide insight into the CSR strategy of the business, we can allow candidates to go into different rooms and understand things that the organization stands for.

(04:45)
As we go further into a recruitment process and perhaps we want to understand how a candidate actually performs a certain behavior, then as you suggest you can get into providing a scenario. We have one room in our VR suite where we can provide a 360 meeting with real people looking at the candidate asking questions and the candidate expecting to respond. In another room we can look at quality assurance, we can take people essentially up in the Cappfinity lift and every room they come out of we can assess and quantify a different behavior and a different skill.

 

William Tincup (05:25):

I love this. So let’s back up. Because for those that haven’t done a whole lot of this, obviously once you have an Oculus, you sync it with your Facebook account, then you’re off into, there’s all kinds of things.

 

Nicky Garcea (05:43):

Yeah.

 

William Tincup (05:44):

Obviously. It’s like the internet, but better. So one of the first places I think it was Microsoft’s alt space, I did a conference there using that space. It was actually really cool. Just the space itself was cool and the way they set up the conference was also really, really cool as well. You mentioned that y’all have a suite, so take the audience into that bit as well. Okay. Where are we going to meet? You and I are using Zoom, you’re near London, I’m near Dallas. Okay. That’s pretty easy for people to understand. But in VR, what does that look like in terms of that space?

 

Nicky Garcea (06:28):

So that space can vary. It can be as realistic as us co-working on something together.

 

William Tincup (06:36):

Cool.

 

Nicky Garcea (06:36):

So if we were candidates at a final stage interview and we’re actually using a similar concept with EY currently in the UK for tech interns. But bear with me, this principal works in a group exercise.

 

William Tincup (06:49):

Right.

 

Nicky Garcea (06:49):

You and I could be going for a job and we may have group exercise briefs where we’re going to work through, we could be doing a hack together and we could be collaborating. You in Dallas, me just outside of London and we could be collaborating on a solution for the company and they would be able to be in VR with us, they would be able to see how we work together, how we behave, how well skilled are we at that task, just in the same way as if we were in the same room.

(07:24)
And another way in which it gets used is when we slightly take the behavior out of the work setting to see if somebody can have really the potential and the flexibility to demonstrate, let’s say an analytical skill. And in one of our analytical VR rooms I could take you into an Egyptian crypt and you would pick up a virtual reality torch, which many people tell me is hot, which of course it’s not because it’s in virtual reality and they hold it away from themselves so they don’t burn their faces and they conduct challenges in hieroglyphics. So we can make it very real or we can really test someone’s flexibility or potential to complete a skill by taking it out of a work context as well.

 

William Tincup (08:12):

With skills… Naturally people are going to ask if right now are you seeing early stage certain types of talent or roles or industries? Is there anything that you’re seeing like okay, right now the early movers seem to be this?

 

Nicky Garcea (08:35):

Yeah, and I think it’s fair to say that it would be… It’s hard not to acknowledge the level of investment that a company like Accenture has put into VR, both in their onboarding. So they bought 60,000 headsets in November 2021 to ensure that every new joiner if they wish to, could be onboarded using VR headsets. But you’ve also got the likes of Accenture, KPMG I think this week launched their metaverse. Lots of the professional consulting houses investing heavily in virtual reality both for experiences of potentially recruitment, but also collaboration spaces for their teams, but also places where their clients will collaborate in the future. And I think there is some trepidation around the metaverse, how virtual reality will embed itself. And it has also, it’s been a slow grow. So definitely anyone offering tech consulting right now seems to be heavily investing along with all of the tech firms that you would expect.

 

William Tincup (09:50):

You know what I love about that is just travel cost alone. If we’re thinking about climate…

 

Nicky Garcea (09:58):

I’m smiling as a business owner as well. But yes, travel cost alone.

 

William Tincup (10:02):

Right. If we’re thinking about climate on any level, less planes, less travel, more time with your family and a better experience with your client or in this case candidate and employee. It just seems like there’s no losing there. Again, there’s times in which you want to get together and break bread, I get that. But this idea of leaving Sunday night and coming back Thursday night, which what most consulting firms historically have done, there’s a better way. There’s a better way. Maybe we don’t have to spend it all on flights and hotels and all of that stuff. I wanted to ask you about an odd question I guess maybe even a dumb question, but DEI and how the use of avatars is useful or could be useful with candidates.

 

Nicky Garcea (11:00):

Yeah. And I think from our experience avatars is something that we’ve probably had to be quite careful with in relation to using VR in recruitment. So quite a lot of our spaces will not necessarily be two people orientated. Because unless they are incredibly realistic, it can be a slight distraction. So quite a few of our spaces are, I would say focused on the candidate and not necessarily avatar led. However we have got spaces in VR for development, the production of ill, the development of employability skills, those do have avatars. And within that obviously in terms of the diversity of avatar, that experience is open to being very wide. The question I thought you were going to ask me was around actually how do diverse candidates experience VR and how do different aged candidates experience VR?

 

William Tincup (12:09):

Let’s go with both of those.

 

Nicky Garcea (12:11):

Wow. And what we are finding is that when we have run pilots of a VR exercise versus say a traditional interview one, the VR is incredibly accurate and goes on to demonstrate that that skill can be performed in role, but there is less adverse impact against minority groups. And when we’ve used VR in the assessment of leaders, particularly leaders for future tech jobs, and we’ve had a very wide demographic set. So individuals who are 30 plus up to late 50s, the older candidates have performed as well and in some cases better than the younger candidates. So we’ve slightly disputed the view that perhaps you need to be a gamer or you need to be a Gen Z to really have a good experience in VR. We haven’t seen that. So it has been incredibly equitable from a recruitment perspective.

 

William Tincup (13:15):

Love that. And I’m glad you asked those questions.

 

Nicky Garcea (13:17):

Of myself.

 

William Tincup (13:22):

Because those were wonderful questions. So you’ve been able to see how some of these things rolled out with some of your clients. And again no names or any of that type stuff, but just mistakes to avoid with VR in recruiting. So as we’re teaching folks about this, what are some of the ways that we can avoid some of the pitfalls or any landmines that might be there?

 

Nicky Garcea (13:46):

Yeah, great question. The kit now without its wires and tripods has got over some of the pitfalls, but you still have to realize that when people put a VR headset on they’ll want to move around, so marking out a space that they can be in. We used to have a VR room only for development, not for recruitment, where someone would walk along what looked like a cavern with a high pole and we had a lot of jumpers, so we would have to just watch for how people were behaving. But the space and a clear space is key. So is a sense of having a point to climatize. So in our suite we have a reception area, we have simple tasks that candidates can go through so they feel really well climatized with the equipment.

(14:38)
We’ve also managed to create materials now or VR scenarios where you can teleport. So I don’t need to have the use of my legs necessarily to complete anything in VR I can actually just teleport around the space. And like all aspects of technology used in recruitment you need parallel materials. There will be some people who do not want to put that VR headset on and we can’t make people do it if they don’t want to. So you always need to be ready with parallel materials. I have to say the times we’ve had to use it is about 1%, but it’s certainly worth thinking about all of these things from the outset. But the climatization piece is probably really key so people just feel very happy using the tech.

 

William Tincup (15:25):

I like that. And it’s interesting that you touched on accessibility. Some folks are going to love it and some people are going to need other accommodations if you will.

 

Nicky Garcea (15:37):

Yeah.

 

William Tincup (15:38):

And so it’s just… It’s creating space for everyone.

 

Nicky Garcea (15:40):

Absolutely.

 

William Tincup (15:41):

Is really the goal there. But I love the idea because you said if you don’t have the use of your legs you can teleport, which immediately got me to think about how different people would use this with different challenges. So wonderful. Near future of VR. So just what do you see in the next year in terms of recruiting and how you think people, maybe your clients et cetera, how they’ll use VR?

 

Nicky Garcea (16:10):

And I think first of all what I’m already seeing clients across the globe, but particularly in North America invest in is metaverse experiences and that does not necessarily need a VR headset to be engaging with. So interviews in the metaverse, meetings in the metaverse and what that looks like is really a two 3D world on your computer screen that you’ll be able to walk around, maybe see avatars, experience offices, but have a highly immersive recruitment experience that goes way beyond say asynchronous interviewing or Zoom videos. So that’s something which I think will increase. I think from a VR perspective, the next thing will be more people, particularly now people are visiting, going back into offices, will be the use of VR for supporting final stage recruitment and also replacing some aspects of career fairs, particularly in the Gen Z space. So I think those two things will accelerate alongside the development of client metaverse spaces, which will definitely get used to support interviewing and final stage assessments.

 

William Tincup (17:25):

So you touched on it a little bit, but I want to make sure the audience really catches some of the nuance of metaverse versus VR.

 

Nicky Garcea (17:35):

Yeah. And look everyone will have different interpretations of this, but the metaverse is really a space that organizations are creating where you are able to go in and collaborate, you are able to look at things like cryptocurrency, you’ll be able to do a lot of things in the 3D, but without a VR headset on. You can still experience the metaverse with a VR headset on, but it’s not critical to have the VR headset in order to walk around a metaverse experience.

 

William Tincup (18:13):

And VR is different…

 

Nicky Garcea (18:18):

VR is, yeah, you’ve got full 360 experience because you are in VR. And with VR because you are completely surrounded by that experience what we find from an assessment perspective and also from a training perspective and this isn’t just our findings, you can see this on work by PWC across the US, but the experience when you’re in VR could be going through an assessment room, you could be walking up to an auditorium in virtual reality about to give a presentation, it provides an emotive experience. And when we evoke emotion, it’s lasting, it’s very true to how we will behave in reality. So VR really takes that metaverse experience to a whole new level. And for recruitment purposes and for training and development it’s probably the closest thing we can get to actually seeing somebody do the job day to day.

 

William Tincup (19:17):

I was about to say, because it reminds me of stress and putting people, I think it’s the Birkman, the assessment that basically you as a personality of you as a natural state and then you under stress.

 

Nicky Garcea (19:33):

Yeah.

 

William Tincup (19:33):

It was really interesting the research that the World War II pilots basically, and it was just really interesting to see how you perform, how you are under stress. And everybody’s different, there’s not a right or wrong, it’s just really interesting to see as you talked about emotion, I immediately thought of stress.

 

Nicky Garcea (19:50):

Well, and look, I’m a bio psychologist by background and the quantity of research of using VR also in therapies, the recovery of post-traumatic stress therapy, the reduction of social anxiety. Oxford University have created a VR experience with astounding results on the reduction of social anxiety and increasing people’s confidence. So it’s definitely here to stay. It’s got multiple purposes and from a recruitment perspective, I think we’re just at the very, very early beginnings of this journey.

 

William Tincup (20:29):

I love it. Nicky, thank you so much for your time.

 

Nicky Garcea (20:32):

You’re so welcome.

 

William Tincup (20:33):

Absolutely, and thanks for everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Until next time.

 

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Authors
William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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