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Virtual Recruiting for Real-World Jobs

There's an unusual job fair taking place this week, but you can't get there by plane or car or drop off your resume in person. You have to travel in cyberspace — to a virtual world called Second Life, the online community where people — or their avatars — hang out for enjoyment, and increasingly, work and business.

The job fair, organized by TMP Worldwide, a recruitment-advertising firm, includes recruiters from Accenture, EMC Corporation, GE Money and U.S. Cellular.

Three Accenture recruiters walk around inside a large white building. When it's your avatar's turn for an interview, you get to go inside and meet them. You can type questions and answers, or talk. For some, this proves to be technically daunting. Glitches result in walking through windows instead of doors or having a momentary lack of clothing, for example.

So can you really interview job applicants this way?

Warren Ashton, a recruiting manager at Microsoft, which took part in an earlier job fair this past spring, says it's especially helpful when you're hiring people like software engineers.

"You get to know a candidate better," says Polly Pearson, an EMC vice president. "You see what they chose to wear, you see what they laugh at or what they interact with."

Software engineer, Carlos Krefft, who took part in the earlier online job fair waited in a virtual lobby for Hewlett-Packard with a teddy bear and an angel, alongside a guy in a suit with a laptop.

Krefft had a small mishap: He mistakenly handed a greeter a beer instead of his resume. She didn't seem to mind. Krefft ended up landing a job elsewhere.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Kathleen Schalch
Kathleen Schalch is a general assignment reporter on NPR's national desk. Her coverage can be heard on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.