Facebook check pre-hire? Never. Here's why -

I must be behind the times or just in denial. 

I don't believe that so many employers are taking to the online streets of Facebook for pre-employment screening. I think they might be making it up just to look hip or as part of some kind of conspiracy for you all to remove that photo from that particular night out from your feed.  

These are the reasons why FB is not where you should be looking to work out whether to hire a candidate. 

  • Public profiles are one thing, but If you're friend-ing people who have profiles only available to "friends" to "screen" a person, then you are a weird and spooky stalker type who should be forever banned from the interwebs. It's just plain wrong. If you have to use FB to check how they really feel about the last place they worked or to validate their communications skills, you definitely suck at recruiting. 

  • For me, Facebook is a place where you can curate an image that you want other people to see, if you wish - there are no guarantees that this curated image reflects the real person
  • It's common knowledge thanks to zillions of yawn inducing advice-blogs out there that you should carefully manage your online presence with privacy settings. Unless you are a Yak Farmer living in the Mongolian Steppes you would know about the privacy settings.  

For the rest of this post, visit us TalentMagic at the bump.

Views: 678

Comment by pam claughton on March 6, 2013 at 9:06am


You'd think people would know to set their profiles to private, but it's amazing how many profiles are wide open for all the public to view. These are the profiles that can get people in trouble and you're kidding yourself if you don't think they can cost people an interview or even a job. I've seen it happen more than once. I don't most people care about what's visible behind the shield of privacy....it's what is hanging out there for all the public to see that can be concerning.

Comment by Michael Wright on March 6, 2013 at 11:12am

Thanks for the comment Pam. You might like to look at this study of a large group of NYC based FB users over 2010-11. I'd argue that people are even more privacy conscious post 2011 and the report strongly supports that. You might find the whole report is heavy to read unless like me, your a big fan of logistic regression modeling. So I'll share the conclusion here: 

We have found that NYC users have become dramatically more private. In March 2010 only 17.2% of the users in our sample hid their friend list, whereas in June 2011, just 15 months later, 52.6% of them hid their friend lists. In March 2010, for 12.3% of the users, all of the attributes in Table II [friends list, hometown, relationship info, graduation year, gender, age, current city, networks] were private, whereas in June 2011, for 33% of the users, all of these attributes were private.

This leads me to conclude that for HR pro's, sniffing around on Facebook as part of a selection process is actually lower than reported because of limited usefulness, and diminishing returns in terms of access. 

I maintain that HR pro's who actually make an effort to gain creepy stalker access to private pictures by friending people are weird and should consider getting to know the person through more regular means of selection. 

Here's the report: http://cis.poly.edu/~ratan/facebookusertrends.pdf

I never said that there weren't instances of people not getting hired through instances of horrifying pictures of them or horrifying comments being discovered by intrusive recruiters. To clarify my point, I was calling BS on the numbers on the infographic which are grossly exaggerated. 

Comment by Amber on March 6, 2013 at 12:32pm


Comment by pam claughton on March 6, 2013 at 1:15pm


I'm not referring to the private profiles, just the public ones. I don't think hr people care about gaining access to private profiles. It's what is publicly visible that can cause issues. It's very common for HR, hiring managers and recruiters to check out all available social media on candidates.

Comment by Elise Reynolds on March 7, 2013 at 12:46pm

I think you are right Michael, I think people rarely go to Facebook to scope out a potential hire.

And what if you do go, what are you going to see?  Most people are boring!  Yeah, you might see a 23 year old candidate's photos of her drinking with friends - big deal.  You might get a bathing suit shot -WooHoo.

Unless someone has pictures of them smoking a crack pipe or in a weird cult that involves human sacrifices why would you care?

I think you are right, HR does not check out Facebook pages because it is a waste of time. 

Comment by Michael Wright on March 7, 2013 at 8:21pm

Hi Elise, it's nice to know that I'm not the only one who believes that FB is not useful as a means to select.

- And you are so right about the majority of FB feeds being utterly boring to those outside of genuine friend circles [& even in them]. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that those people who do make the kind of subversive lifestyle choices which might frighten busybody HR people are the most likely to either have a private profile or be very careful about what they post. 


Comment by Natalie Prigge on May 24, 2013 at 8:12am

Michael, thank you for the post.  I agree that using FB to “qualify” a candidate is a stretch.  There should be some separation between work and life. 

Now, with that being said, we absolutely use LinkedIn to recruit and prequalify potential candidates.  Obviously the two Social Medias are nothing alike, but I am curious on your take of LinkedIn. 


Comment by Fred Elmore on June 14, 2013 at 8:28am

 Michael, I agree with your points.  As a hiring manager, when I pay a recruiter to prescreen candidates for an open position, I don’t expect part of that prescreening process to be checking out their Facebook page. 

It seems a little silly to me that some believe stalking folks on their Facebook page will give an indication of that person’s work performance. 

I hope my recruiters feel the same way.  http://www.clinicalstaffingreviews.com/


You need to be a member of RecruitingBlogs to add comments!

Join RecruitingBlogs


All the recruiting news you see here, delivered straight to your inbox.

Just enter your e-mail address below


RecruitingBlogs on Twitter

© 2024   All Rights Reserved   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service