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What do You Think about Social Media Screening for Your Candidates?


What do You Think about Social Media Screening for Your Candidates?

It’s become increasingly common for bad behavior to be caught on camera, with instant and wide-reaching reactions in the court of public opinion. And whether a person is on the job or not, employers are often pulled into the fray. It’s not uncommon to see businesses respond with apologies, reprimands and even dismissals.

But does that mean employers should be using social media to screen job applicants? Can it be a predictor of problematic behavior on the employee’s part, or are the risks of violating compliance just too steep?

Let's take a look at both sides of the issue.

The case for screening:

While social media screening includes legal risks of discrimination, including unconscious bias, an argument can be made that ignoring social media entirely can lead to missing out on important information. Researching through social media can help dig deeper in a candidate’s work ethic and attitude towards others, and these can contribute to the final hiring decision. Some of these may be positive indicators as well. For example, when looking through the applicants Facebook page you might come across their active volunteer work history.

On the other side of the coin, an employer may find the applicant is putting crude or inappropriate posts on their Twitter account. Using social media can help avoid a bad hire that can cost you money or damage to your company’s reputation.

Supporters of social media screening suggest considering the lawful side of its use, but advocate that it can, in return, lead to hiring first-rate employees.

The case against screening:

In contrast, it's a valid concern that using social media to screen applicants can be a breach of candidate privacy and that there are too many legal ramifications to make it a viable option.

And because candidates are often sharing with friends and family, they are likely to include information that's well out of bounds of what is legal, such as age or religious preference. It can also be all too easy to get caught up in the content of what is getting posted, creating an unconscious bias. Our job as professionals is to protect potential employees from this type of bias, and subsequently, protect our organizations from potential discrimination lawsuits.

A final consideration is that social media accounts can be hacked and may present fictitious or false information about the applicant.

The Current Status

The reality exists that department leadership may not even understand the ramifications of researching candidates through their social media profiles, and it's the job of the Human Resources professionals to make sure our companies maintain high standards for screening.

At Risk Assessment Group, we're exploring what this means to companies and HR professionals, and we hope to start a conversation. Let us know what you think!


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