When some Walmart Inc. store workers want to apply for a higher-paying management role, the company fits them with a $250 virtual reality headset to see if they are the right candidate for the job. It's part of a selection process to find middle managers, watching how workers respond in VR to an angry shopper, a messy aisle or an underperforming worker.
So far, 10,000 employees have undergone the VR test as part of an initiative to identify potential high performers and cut back the overall number of managers in each store. This is part of a larger plan to change how many higher paid managers are overseeing teams and to give its frontline workers more decision-making power in their jobs.

VR is a "touchpoint in our selection process. It's not a disqualifier," or a mandatory part of the promotion process, according to Beth Nagel, Walmart human resources market manager for the Pittsburgh area. For example, a 12-year veteran of a store in Pennsylvania got a promotion to team leader and a 10% raise after taking the VR assessment.
VR isn't being used to demote people who may be underperforming, a Walmart spokeswoman said. "We're only using it in four roles and it is only being used for selection for those four roles. Further, it is just one data point and is not being used to cull the applicant pool at all."