How An Innovative Bank Recruits the Next Generation

A war for talent is waging, and technology might be the key to helping banks compete against the tech sector for bright-eyed graduates.

Savvy institutions are navigating today’s recruiting environment by rethinking their candidate experience and leveraging technology to better demonstrate what it means to work at a bank.

One multinational bank is using virtual reality (VR) to recruit and assess new candidates. According to Arbi Rai, senior manager of the graduate delivery team at Lloyds Banking Group, virtual reality is more than a gimmick.

Lloyds’s recruitment strategy aligns its efforts to be in tune with broader market trends and “reflective of what modern candidates expect,” Rai says. Those trends and expectations led the bank to adopt virtual reality around the time that the technology started appearing at retail malls and trade shows. But the bank didn’t pursue VR for the cool factor alone. Rai explains that virtual reality was a natural solution to the bank’s challenge of articulating its brand and creating an authentic, consistent recruiting experience.

Lloyds uses virtual reality to both recruit and assess new candidates. When the bank visits a university campus, students are invited to don the VR headset and step into a virtual office environment. The office is actually one of the ones Rai works out of, and it looks a little different than most students would expect: no grey suits or green screen computer interfaces in sight. According to Rai, “[i]t just gives them an insight into the kind of office you’ll be working in and helps to break down one of the perceptual barriers of what they consider a bank to be.”

But the experience doesn’t stop with a virtual office tour. During the VR encounter, students answer five questions about their strengths and passions. Based on that information, the simulation generates recommendations for a couple of programs within the bank that the candidate might be suited for. The program highlights opportunities that students may not have known existed within a financial institution — a crucial tool in a time when talent needs are changing rapidly at banks of all sizes.

Lloyds was the first financial institution in the world to use VR technology assess candidate strengths. Candidates are put in virtual environments that provide a 360-degree view and full range of motion where they tackle problem-solving challenges designed to measure their strengths. Virtual reality allows Lloyds to quickly set up these scenarios as they would appear in the real world but, more importantly, it ensures that each candidate is assessed in exactly the same way.

Lloyds validates the results of their VR assessments by comparing them to the results of exercises that were completed in different formats. Candidates perform at the same level in VR as they do with traditional assessment methods; what’s different is the candidate’s enjoyment of the assessment experience.

When you talk about VR as an exercise, I think people are a bit taken back because they don’t expect it. But also it creates that excitement. It creates that buzz,” Rai says — no small feat for most banks. The VR program creates inroads for Lloyds to tout its large digital presence, which sometimes surprises potential candidates.

“What it does is it creates that hook; it creates that conversation point to say ‘Actually this is essentially another step in our process, and do you know we are the largest digital bank in the UK?’”

Virtual reality provides an outward, visual manifestation of the institution’s dedication to innovation and makes it easier for Lloyd’s to tell its digital banking story. It correlates with the bank’s ethos: a willingness to take new technology to even-newer places. That’s key for any recruitment program.

“It’s got to be authentic to your brand and the culture of your organization,” Rai says. “It’s [about] doing things with a purpose.”