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Before the Interview: Screening a Candidate Through Social Media

There are a range of different factors that might be taken into consideration when businesses look at  potential employees during the hiring process. A person’s education, past work history and references are all important, and how a person conducts themselves during an interview is also notable. However, even some of the most tech-savvy companies are forgetting about social media. A potential candidate almost certainly has a social media presence, and hiring managers can learn a lot through this.

Inappropriate Photos or Language

According to a recent survey from Career Builder[1], roughly 39 percent of companies are currently using social media as a way to screen potential hires. The largest reason to do this, according to many leaders in the HR field, is to weed out those candidates who feature inappropriate pictures, drug use or racist language in their profiles or online communication.

Great Communication Skills

While the presumption is that candidates can be taken out of the race through their social media presence, employers should also be looking for evidence of solid communication. Tweeting to a brand, linking friends in photos and even a solid LinkedIn profile with numerous endorsements can say a lot of great things about a potential employee. While some hiring managers will treat the social media screening as a kind of witch hunt, be sure to look for the positives as well.

Legal Issues For Pre-Employment Screening Online

Although the practice of screening employees before hire through their social media profiles is certainly a common practice, Fast Company[2] reminds managers and business owners that there are some legal issues that can come into play. By checking a candidate’s profile on Facebook, for example, you will come across details like their age, gender, religion and even pregnancy status. Although you might not let these details influence you, it can be hard to deny that in court. A safer approach is to let someone not associated with hiring conduct the social media searches and only bring relevant information to your attention.

There are clearly numerous benefits to looking a candidate’s social media presence before hiring them. However, care should be taken to avoid any legal issues surrounding this online screening.


[1] http://thehiringsite.careerbuilder.com/2013/07/01/two-in-five-employers-use-social-media-to-screen-candidates/

[2] http://www.fastcompany.com/1843142/using-facebook-screen-potential-hires-can-get-you-sued