Are Hiring Managers Using Social Media to Learn Things About Candidates?

Brittney Jackson
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Hiring a new candidate requires much thought and caution when it comes to finding the perfect fit. Understandably, hiring managers have been taking to social media to gain a little more insight into their candidates before coming to a final decision. It can be tempting to take a peek into a candidate's personal life to gain insight into how they conduct themselves online and get a taste of their personality. But is it fair and ethical? 

Using social media to conduct deeper research on a candidate has its advantages but the practice should be approached with caution. These advantages could come in the form of looking to see if a candidate reflects company values in their lives and what beliefs they may hold. For example, if a candidate holds sentiments that go strongly against your company's cultural values you may save some time by knowing they aren’t a good fit before you even get to the interviewing process. You can also use social media to see if a candidate is lying about their beliefs or personal qualities after an interview. It’s easy to put up a front during an interview but you never know who that person may really be behind closed doors.

A recent Harris Poll found that 69% of hiring managers reported that utilizing social media to gather info on a candidate was helpful and effective in the consideration process. Despite all of the benefits doing a little social media research on a candidate can provide, it also has its imperfections. Weighing an employee solely off of their social media presence can create space for unfair assumptions and subconscious bias during the hiring process. If a candidate has tattoos or posts pictures of certain activities on social media, it can create subconscious bias for the  hiring manager. This subconscious bias could influence the hiring manager's decision to hire that candidate based solely on unrelated qualities that have nothing to do with the candidate's ability to perform the job. This is where using social media to filter candidates can become a bit muddy if bias is not carefully controlled and goes unacknowledged. 

The last thing you would want is a candidate accusing your company of discrimination if they suspect a hiring manager declined their job application based on their identity, so be sure to pay attention to why a hiring manager chose to not hire a candidate. 

While using social media to perform compliant research on a candidate isn’t illegal, it’s still wise to exercise caution and consider the ethics of it all. Strive to ensure your hiring managers are performing social media screens in good faith and disqualifying candidates for relevant reasons to keep the process ethical and fair for everyone involved.

Disclaimer this article is not offering legal advice, it is simply considering an interesting topic.


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