Social media & hiring


Julia Meighan

YES Social media is such an integral part of our daily lives that it’s almost unthinkable to not use it in the recruitment process. Each platform provides a window into an individual’s personality. Assessing how they handle themselves in public provides recruiters with a greater understanding of how they will act as an employee. Social media vetting has become a new stage of the application process in identifying who is most suitable, and filtering out who is not.

Businesses need to be confident that current and future employees will represent the brand professionally and honestly. Vetting individuals via social media will identify areas of possible concern during the initial stage and reduce issues further down the line. Experienced recruiters are also well trained to recognise social media red flags that will allow them to pursue certain lines of questioning during interviews.

Potential employees should be subject to the same level of scrutiny as existing members of staff and the departments responsible for social media. If a company has a social media policy whereby an individual’s online presence is checked to minimise any stakeholder fallout, potential employees should also be subject to the same scrutiny.

Even if you believe it is unfair to use social media as a vetting tool, the reality is that it has been happening for years and plays a crucial part in any robust recruitment process.

Julia Meighan is chief executive of recruitment and training company VMA Group
Twitter: @JuliaMMeighan

Gareth Jones

NO There is no link whatsoever between social activity and performance in a role, so for an HR professional or line manager to make such a call is dangerous and could lead to discrimination claims or invasion of privacy issues. Unless you are using sophisticated language-analysis technology to scan an individual’s entire online presence, which you need permission to do, and compare it to a properly validated profile requirement, which you’re unlikely to be doing, then the process of such vetting is subjective, and potentially unlawful.

To accurately select a candidate who will perform to expectations requires a selection process built on many other factors beyond previous experience. Although experience still remains the criteria of choice for many large organisations, it actually has a woefully low predictive validity as a performance indicator – currently 25 per cent at the very best.

To be accurate, fair and lawful, selection needs to include valid and robust measures of a candidate’s values, motivations, behaviours and intellect, in addition to any experiential requirements of the role. Scanning a candidate’s social profile is neither valid nor robust. Neither is it accurate. On the contrary, it is highly subjective as most of us are vulnerable to unconscious bias. Our social activity may be there for all to see. But just because you can see it, doesn’t mean you should be looking at it, or worse, making a judgement call on it.

Gareth Jones is chief solutions architect at consulting firm The Chemistry Group
Twitter: @garelaos

About author

Hannah Baker

Hannah Baker

Hannah Baker is deputy editor at Think Publishing. Previously she worked as a features writer and sub-editor for Director magazine

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