"So, tell me a little bit about yourself."
Your muscles tense up, heart pounding a mile a minute and sweat pouring down the side of your face faster than Angel Falls. Interviews are nerve wracking, but why? Is it because of the judgement? Fear of the unknown? Can't stand the idea of being rejected? Whatever the reason, virtual reality (VR) can increase the probability of the interview going smoothly.
In 2017, an experiment was carried out to test whether VR could increase the odds of a job offer for trainees with severe mental illness. According to Mathew J. Smith and his research team, VR job interview training provided promising results for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patients (Smith et.al, 2017).
79 people participated in pre and posttest mock interviews, with a brief survey sent out approximately six months later to assess whether they received a job offer. They predicted "greater posttest interviewing skills" which in turn leads to a higher likelihood of job acceptance (Smith et.al, 2017).
It is likely the participants' success stemmed from the safety net of VR. The study highlights how people undergoing severe mental health issues (like PTSD) may be more prone to become anxious during interviews. When a person is given a way to practice answering questions in the safety of the virtual world, they’ll naturally feel more confident when the real interview comes round.
With VR, the person can fail numerous times and there are no real world consequences. No matter where we lie on the mental health spectrum, learning from mistakes with a trained professional will increase the chances of a positive interview experience.
As VR technology improves, the virtual simulation will become more and more realistic. With improvements in environment quality, avatar realism and voice analysis, VR will become a great way to prepare for a huge range of interviews, from company specific questions to general questions.
This study highlights the opportunities VR presents us with, and shows how VR can be used to help a range of people.
Mohammed Maxwel Hasan is a University of Toronto graduate and a current Architectural Technology student at Humber College. He is interested by how storytelling and effective communication operate in the 21st century. If you'd like to connect, you can visit his website.