Walmart Uses Virtual Reality in Management Search

The VR headsets allow the retail giant to get a glimpse into the skill set and potential of employees up for promotions.

July 03, 2019

BENTONVILLE, Ark.—At some Walmart locations, employees up for management roles or promotions are given a virtual reality headset to determine if they are a fit for the job, the Wall Street Journal reports. Walmart is the biggest private employer in the United States.

The retailer is including the VR skills check as one step in the process for potential middle managers, using the headset to see how potential candidates would interact with a messy floor, an unhappy customer or a worker not performing his tasks. While more industries are using VR for training or to confirm the technical ability of employees in high-skilled jobs like electricians, Walmart is using virtual reality to assess a worker’s potential in his or her current job. Walmart also sees the potential of virtual reality assessments to lower turnover and remove inherent bias.

“What we’re trying to do is understand the capacity of the individual from a leadership perspective and how they view situations,” said Drew Holler, Walmart’s senior vice president of associate experience. The VR assessment gives hiring managers a report with the candidate’s weaknesses and strengths that HR can use for promotion or retraining decisions.

The retailer has been using VR training headsets at all 4,600 U.S., locations, training more than a million employees in shelf stocking or cashier work. So far, more than 10,000 employees have taken the VR assessment, which is part of the chain’s new store management structure to reduce the number of managers.