Screening job candidates using social media

Nowadays Hiring Professionals have an additional weapon to screen candidates. We are talking about social media as a recruitment tool. It would be unwise not to take advantage of this powerful opportunity which is free, even though a bit time consuming. However, a study conducted by Reppler has shown that 5 % don’t use social networking sites to screen prospective employees. 

91 % of companies do check candidates via social media and 69 % stated that they REJECTED candidates because of what they saw online about them. Some of the reasons were: lies about their qualifications, inappropriate photos and comments, negative comments about a previous employer, poor communication skills, discriminatory comments, content about them using drugs and drinking alcohol, and last but not least, sharing confidential information from a previous employer. 

Another survey conducted by CareerBuilder found that 14 % of employers disregarded a candidate because the jobseeker used an emoticon, such as a smiley face, when sending a message. 16 % rejected a candidate for using text-message language such as GR8 (great) in a job application and in an email. 

On the other hand, in the survey conducted by Reppler it showed that 68 % of candidates have been HIRED because of the positive impression they made online. The secret: candidates gave a positive impression of their personality and organisational fit, the profile supported their professional qualifications, it showed that the candidate was creative and well-rounded, good references were posted by others, solid communication skills were evident and awards and accolades received. 

You might be wondering at what stage during the hiring process employers look at these profiles. It was revealed that 47 % would take such action after receiving an application, 27 % after initial conversation, 15 % after detailed conversations and 4 % right before they make an offer. 

If in the future you consider screening your candidates using social media,  you should pay close attention to the following five points: 

  • Are there any hints of cultural fit? How can you find out? For example, if a candidate’s hobby and interest is “reading” and your organisation is sponsoring a book fair, it would be an indication for a good fit.  
  • Is there any inconsistency regarding the person’s image? On Linkedin one might have a more professional presence and on Facebook a bit more less formal. However, it is important that there are no controversies in what the person posts, be it words or pictures.  
  • Are there any references and skills endorsements on Linkedin? Find out if the candidate is connected to someone you know. If this is the case, it would give you the opportunity to get in touch and get an additional opinion about the person. 
  • Are there any red flags? For example, mentioning something about illegal drugs, inappropriate pictures, discriminatory comments, controversial posts, bad mouthing about former bosses or employees, etc.
  • Are there any grammar or spelling mistakes? This would give you an idea about a person’s communication skills. 

Is it worthwhile checking out a candidate on social media? There were many discussions regarding “privacy rights” in the past because some companies wanted to know the candidates’ passwords in order to access their Facebook pages. This approach was considered as crossing ethical and legal boundaries and some states in the US were successful in passing a law that made this illegal. 

However, you can still find out a lot of information and insights about a prospective employee, on various other social media websites, that you would not find anywhere else. Bear in mind that ignoring such kind of checks via social media could cost an organisation a lot of money and also lead to a company’s loss of reputation.

Karin Schroeck-Singh
Karin Schroeck-Singh is a passionate Public Speaker, eBook Author, and a freelancing Online Content Producer. She has an MBA from the University of Leicester (UK) and gained 18 years of international work experience in Italy, the UK and India.