Improve your interview skills with Body Swaps VR

Fatima Malik, Lecturer in people management
February, 2024

Fatima Malik, lecturer in people management at the University of Salford, explains how their students have used the Body Swaps VR platform to help them practise for job interviews and ensure they are better prepared for entering the world of work

At the University of Salford Business School, we believe that when utilised correctly, integrating generative artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) technology can be extremely beneficial to students.

To explore how these tools could be integrated into our undergraduate programmes, we partnered with Body Swaps, a VR platform that provides a safe space for learners to practise the soft skills that employers want.

The 100 second-year undergraduate students who participated during 2023/24 faced a simulated interview situation similar to a real-life graduate interview.

The outcome was extremely positive with students reporting some clear advantages in using the technology.

An introduction to Body Swaps

Body Swaps is a technological VR tool that uses generative AI (ChatGPT) to simulate scenarios of real-world challenges, such as:

  • job interviews
  • leadership practice
  • and mental health training.

This is achieved by utilising an avatar in real-time, within a VR space, and aided by an AI-initiated ChatGPT system.

The experience was accessed through VR headsets with the use of handheld controls, enabling students to:

  • practise and visualise challenging interviewing scenarios and questions in a safe setting
  • experience the unfamiliar feelings and expectations of an actual employer interview
  • practise and apply their soft skills within an interview situation.

In this virtual space, students could watch and reflect upon individualised performance by swapping places with the avatar interviewer.

An additional feature, through a login app on their personal mobile devices, allowed students to view scores and feedback once the VR experience was complete. This further supported reflections on self-development and career planning as an independent personalised learning experience.

Aims of the VR experience

The aim of the 'Professional Development' employability module, which incorporated use of the Body Swaps technology, was to raise awareness of:

  • the graduate selection process
  • graduate career expectations
  • student employability
  • programme-specific professional development
  • enhanced knowledge, skills and behaviours.

Once the virtual experience is complete, it then provides students with the opportunity for:

  • evaluation
  • analysis
  • reflection.

Key findings from the programme

By practising scenarios in real-time and being able to easily reflect upon and self-analyse performance and results, students reported feeling more confident and at ease with tackling real-world situations, including securing work placements or going through the graduate selection process with potential employers.

The main findings from the Body Swaps experience were that it:

  • provided relatability to real-world scenarios
  • gave personalised feedback
  • connected with students' feelings around workplace situations
  • let students practise their soft skills, which helped relieve stress associated with first-time interview situations.

After using the technology, students reported:

  • 'For me it was very real, it was like a real interview experience. I was asked questions that I really didn't expect, so I felt as though I was at an actual interview.'
  • 'In the second question, I know that I didn't look at the interviewer when responding, and I got feedback that my eye contact was not good, so the feedback was precise.'
  • 'I had to and could think about what I could have done better during the Body Swaps experience.'
  • 'I learnt about how to respond to challenging questions and how to time-manage my responses.'
  • 'This was a useful approach to practice the job interview, as how else are we supposed to know what an employer interview feels like?'
  • 'I never knew I could employ my communications in the way that I did.'

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