Screening with Social Media

posted in: People 0

Like so much about social media, using it to screen candidates is an area in flux. It seems like a good way to learn more about a candidate, but it is easy to learn too much. What you learn may not be true: you may have someone else with the same name, or it may be fake. Even if the information is accurate and about the right person, there may be protected-class information that can put a company at risk for a discrimination lawsuit if the candidate isn’t hired; race, marital status, religion, or disability are obvious things that could show up in public information but are disallowed in hiring decisions.

If you want to use social media to vet candidates, set up careful procedures and follow them consistently.

1. Identify and articulate your business reasons for viewing posts and tweets. Would a jury find them plausible?

2. Obtain candidates’ permission to view their public posts; don’t ask for passwords.

3. Don’t have a decision-maker view the posts and take a chance on learning protected-class facts. Have someone else do the research and report back only the relevant information based on the business reasons. Have guidelines for what should be reported.

4. Prohibit other employees from doing their own research.

5. Use social media results as only one among several factors in making a decision.

Among social media sites, LinkedIn is safer for┬áresearching a candidate than Facebook or Twitter because it is explicitly professional and more clearly business-related. Regardless of the sites you visit, be careful about how you handle it so that you don’t set the stage for a discrimination lawsuit.


Thanks to Jason Ritchie for a great presentation.