Global consulting firm Accenture has taken to trapping its prospective employees in an Ancient Egyptian crypt in order to test their problem solving capacities. Digitally, at any rate. In a completely new approach to graduate recruitment in its UK business, Accenture has pioneered the use of immersive technologies, such as AR and VR, to identify candidates’ key skills and future potential.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have long been spoken of as the future of visual technology, with a number of increasingly optimistic forecasts anticipating a boom in sales and use over the coming years. The VR market burst through the $1 billion mark two years ago, thanks largely to a $300 million boom relating to video game sales in the innovative technology domain, while headset sales are predicted to approach 200 million units within the next two years.
However, it would be wrong to think of the meteoric rise of VR and AR as solely resulting from demand in the entertainment sector. The manufacturing, healthcare and retail sectors are just some of the industrial environments in which the immersive technologies are being utilised in the name of training and education. The consulting industry is one such market, having begun tapping the new technologies in earnest to help map out results in many different aspects of its work.
Accenture in particular holds an early leadership position in the AR and VR services market, having delivered consumer and enterprise experiences for clients such as BMW and Jeep in recent years, as well as having launched an Extended Reality (XR) practice. In 2018, the firm also completed the acquisition of VR expert firm Mackevision, with the purchase designed to help Accenture significantly accelerate its ability to envision, create and operate XR solutions at scale for its clients and help drive the future of the XR market.
The global consultancy has also begun introducing AR and VR technologies to its own internal affairs. This includes a new approach to graduate recruitment in its UK business, designed to help build a diverse workforce while providing candidates with an insight into the digital innovation that is embedded into every aspect of life at the firm. Accenture’s new process provides end-to-end cover of the recruitment journey, and has been designed to identify the key skills and future potential of candidates through an immersive process involving AR and VR.
At Accenture’s graduate assessment days, candidates are set a range of tasks using immersive AR and VR technologies. These include entering an ‘Egyptian tomb’ to use problem solving skills to crack a hieroglyphics code, or performing the typical everyday task of running a conference call with a client from within a digital rendition of an Accenture office. The VR assessment developed by technology solutions provider Capp gives candidates a level of physical immersion which compels natural behavioural responses, giving Accenture insight into how they might act in their role at the firm.
The approach also leverages so-called strengths-based interviewing, which focuses on strengths and what candidates enjoy doing, rather than what they can do or have done as in a competency interview. This method of recruitment is hoped to source talent from a broad range of backgrounds, while assessing candidates in the context of their personal circumstances, eliminating any bias and drawing on a combination of data science and machine learning to predict performance and manage Accenture’s talent pipeline in real time.
Interview and recruitment processes are coming under mounting scrutiny in the UK and across the world’s leading economies. With ageing populations depleting the workforce, while high employment and a rise in competition exacerbate the matter to the extent some firms believe the economy is suffering a ‘talent shortage’, platforms such as Glassdoor give insight into a company’s hiring procedure, allowing prospective employees to pick which firms best suit their needs. Companies which can demonstrate an innovative and comfortable process undoubtedly have an advantage over those who exhibit the opposite qualities, then.
Commenting on Accenture’s new process, Adrian Love, Recruitment Director for the firm in the UK and Ireland, said,“The traditional graduate recruitment process relied heavily on a formal interview setting that tended to elicit rehearsed responses and favour a certain type of candidate who was able to give a polished performance… 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. And by using technology in a smart way, we can deliver a higher touch human experience to candidates during the moments that matter.”
To further promote diversity in its recruitment process, the company has already removed UCAS point requirements to enable a broader range of candidates to apply for roles, and also takes on entry-level employees without university qualifications through its apprenticeship programme. On average, Accenture receives 40,000 graduate applications each year in the UK and recruited approximately 600 graduates in 2018.
Tolu Olojo, one of the first candidates to have successfully completed the process and is about to join Accenture as an analyst, added, “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.”