How to Respond When Job Interviewer Asks for Your Facebook Password

This post originally appeared on the SkillStorm blog:

CareersThe longer you are out-of-work or are looking for a new position the more desperate you become. The more desperate you feel the more willing you are to do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do: things like work for lower pay, take a position that you know you are overqualified for, or endure a boss who doesn’t respect you. But would you be willing to give a potential employer your Facebook password?



The topic made news recently. It was reported that a number of private and government agencies have been requesting access to job applicants Facebook accounts during the interview process. The requests for such personal information have been answered with mixed results. So why have potential employers been asking? The answer, according to the article posted by the Associated Press

In their efforts to vet applicants, some companies and government agencies are going beyond merely glancing at a person's social networking profiles and instead asking to log in as the user to have a look around.

It didn’t take long before Facebookresponded. Take a stance in support of users and against employers who request passwords, Chief Privacy Officer, Erin Egan posted –

If you are a Facebook user, you should never have to share your password, let anyone access your account, or do anything that might jeopardize the security of your account or violate the privacy of your friends.

On a positive, the negative attention and backlash of have brought this practice to the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union, who calls the request is, “an invasion of privacy”. In addition, senators from Maryland and Illinois are proposing legislation that would forbid public agencies from requesting your Facebook password.

Just when you think no HR department would come within ten feet of asking for a Facebook password, comes a new story, this time from an employer to a current employee. It seems Kimberly Hester, a teacher’s aide, was called into her employer’s office and asked to log in to her Facebook account so that her employer could look around.

In this case, Hester had friended the parent of a student. When Hester posted a picture of a co-worker (no nudity), and parent complained, what happened next is even more disturbing. Hester reports that when she refused, her employer took the action of letting her go.

Saying, “That’s why I don’t have a Facebook account” is not a solution, it’s a declaration when an interviewer or employer asks for your password. So what should you do? First know that while the debate is going on, legislation takes time. Plus, depending on the level of your position or the position you’re applying for, this request may still be made for people working in security or government.

Below are tips you can use right now.


1. Don’t wait till you’re asked to take proactive steps. Do them now.

  1. Un-tag yourself in photos
  2. Remove photos that could be construed as inappropriate
  3. Put privacy restrictions in place
  4. Limit who can see your page

2. While obvious, it still bears repeating. Don’t write anything that you wouldn’t want to see on the news, in the paper or for your mother to read. In other words, don’t write anything stupid, libelous, especially about a coworker, client or boss.

3. Giving out your password doesn’t just affect you; it also affects your friends privacy. Remember, you don’t have to say, “Yes”. You can say, “No” to social invasion.

4. Suggest an alternative, such as Twitter or LinkedIn. Explain how both of these sites provide a more accurate picture of your professional web presence.

Sources: Associated Press, Inquisitr, ACLU, Facebook Protecting Your Passwords and Your Privacy

Tune in every week for more blogs like this. Our blog topics include hiring trends (especially in IT), corporate culture and tech news, reviews and opinions.

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