Do you play online virtual reality games? Have you created an avatar in Second Life? Did you know your next job interview might be on Second Life? I have created an avatar but I don't play regularly and the thought of going on a job interview in a virtual reality world is a bit scary. Well, maybe a bit terrifying. Also, a bit sad.
For the most part, I love trying out new technology and applications. (It's taking all my will power not to buy an iPhone.) But when Twitter came out, I started to worry that maybe I was falling behind the times - Twitter seemed like a great waste of time and nothing else. (For the record, when web browsers first came out, I pronounced the internet a waste of time. I was right - I waste tons of time on the internet but I wouldn't give it up. So maybe there's hope for Twitter.) But then I read the Wall Street Journal A Job Interview You Don't Have to Show Up For and I got this feeling in my stomach of "Oh no - I'm going to have to waste a lot of time learning how to use Second Life effectively." The article was about real interviews being done in Second Life. Companies like HP have a virtual office and real interviewers login and conduct their real interviews with real people in this virtual world. The article was full of goofs that the interviewees had made - like handing over a beer instead of a resume, or sitting on top of the chair instead of on the chair, or not being able to figure out how to sit down at all! And let's not mention clothes - I haven't seen too many virtual suits. (Actually, if this takes off I think there's a great business to be had in designing virtual clothes. Although somebody's probably doing that already.)
I think in order for interviews in virtual worlds to be effective, all the players will have to excel at using the technology. At my current skill level, there would be no advantage to using an avatar over just conducting the interview over the phone line. All my avatar would tell you was that I was not skilled at moving around in a virtual world - there'd be no meaningful body language, no handshake, no eye contact, ... and how in the world would you move your avatar and take notes at the same time? The one immediate advantage I see in the short term is that you know the other person isn't doing email at the same time - not when they are spending all their time trying to figure out how to sit their avatar down in the chair!
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