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Could Virtual Interviews Solve Government's Recruiting Problem?

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An antiquated hiring process could be stymieing federal efforts to recruit young tech talent, a new survey suggests.

About 43 percent of millennials—those born between 1979 to 1997—think the federal government should use social media to connect with recruits, according to an Accenture Federal survey. McGuire Research, which performed the survey, canvassed 500 D.C., Maryland and Virginia residents.

Older generations were less enthusiastic about social media in hiring; only about 31 percent of baby boomer and Generation X respondents—including those born between 1946 and 1978—thought the government should be using social media.

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About 29 percent of respondents across all generations think virtual assistants, such as a live chat guiding an applicant through the application process, should be a top priority for agencies; 38 percent said agencies should use Skype and other applications to conduct interviews.

Results showed strong support for mobile-friendly job applications, though federal workers were far less likely to consider mobile applications a top priority. Almost 70 percent of nonfederal respondents thought mobile-friendly job applications should be among agencies' top three recruiting priorities, as compared to 48 percent of federal employees.

As President Barack Obama's term winds down, the White House has been making a deliberate effort to recruit young tech talent, including millennials. On Monday, the White House hosted South By South Lawn, a variation on the annual tech and music festival South By Southwest held in Austin, Texas

At an open data-themed White House event last week, federal Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith pitched young private-sector professionals on a government "tour of duty" to join federal tech groups including 18F and the U.S. Digital Service for a year or two before returning to their commercial or nonprofit jobs.

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