Facebook Twitter Candidate Checks …….should we……just because we can?

by Richard , updated on July 4, 2012

There’s been a constant stream of discussion in the online and print media recently about the use of social media to assess candidate suitability.

The vast majority of this discussion seems to be saying either “if you’re going to be doing it be careful” or “well it’s so widespread and common within the recruitment space – it must be OK”

For anyone involved in recruitment who has used or is contemplating using social media to uncover “unsuitable” candidates, I have a few questions for you……..

Scenario One: You routinely check shortlisted candidate Facebook pages for what you or your company consider “unsuitable” or “inappropriate” behaviour. In one instance you have 5 candidates and discount a candidate because of the pictures you discover material involving their drinking habits, inappropriate language or behaviour. Three of your candidates however don’t have Facebook pages.

To ensure you are treating all candidates fairly – will you now ring those 3 candidates and ask them about their drinking habits, use of “inappropriate” language and other “anti-social” habits?

Scenario Two: A common reason I hear in defence of the use of social media in candidate selection is “well it’s in the public domain”. You have just finished interviewing a candidate. You look out your window and notice them walking into the pub on the corner. Two hours later you happen to notice them leaving the pub. It could be argued that this is also “in the public domain.”

Do you include the candidate’s behaviour in your selection process? Do you know if he drank any alcohol? Do you know how many drinks he drank? Are you using Facebook simply because you can without the candidate’s knowledge?

My final question for you is.

Just because we can do something………. does that mean that we should?

I do think there are some situations where it’s appropriate to access a person’s social media pages (and take appropriate disciplinary action). For example if an employee is found to have breached their privacy and confidentially contract with their employer.

I also do not include LinkedIn in the above comments. LinkedIn’s primary role is to facilitate networking opportunities for business, career and employment. Any user of LinkedIn should be mindful of this fact and that potential employers will be accessing their LinkedIn profile.

And to all candidates I would go a step further and suggest that there’s only one way to protect yourself if you don’t want potential employers using your social media profiles (eg Facebook and Twitter) to select or deselect you as a job candidate…….

Candidate Tip: Change your privacy settings to exclude all public access!


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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Ted Burton (@AGS_recruiTed) April 10, 2012 at 9:53 am

Right or wrong – protect yourself | Facebook? Twitter? Candidate Checks …….should we……just because we can? http://t.co/xT5G3jSz

Tom Bolt (@tombolt) (@TomBolt) April 11, 2012 at 6:53 am

Facebook? Twitter? Candidate Checks …….should we……just because we can? http://t.co/ArFL4Pl9

alanc230 April 11, 2012 at 9:03 am

No, these social media background checks shouldn’t be done. But they will be, unless they are made illegal. It’s too tempting for employers to look for dirt on candidates. No one should ever expect any privacy any more.

E-Recruitweeter (@e_Recruitweeter) April 24, 2012 at 1:40 am

Facebook? Twitter? Candidate Checks …….should we……just because we can? http://t.co/SkiaG4xR

Scott Manton (@sdmanton) April 26, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Facebook Twitter candidate Checks? Should we? Just because we can? http://t.co/KIksLU4b

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