Facebook Passwords and the Interview Process

HR Resource
May 21, 2012 — 846 views  

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Requesting Facebook passwords has become commonplace for many employers, as human resource professionals might request this information to learn more about a job candidate before making a hiring decision. However, others have shied away from including Facebook during the interview process for various reasons.

Examine the pros and cons related to asking applicants for their Facebook passwords when hiring.

Pros

As an employer, you want the most qualified, highly intelligent workers on your team. You might desire staff members who reflect your organization's beliefs, mission statement and values, and are willing to integrate the steps necessary to ensure you're bringing the best possible job applicants on board.

If you request Facebook passwords from job applicants, you'll have access to a variety of personal information to learn more about the candidate's background. This allows you to take an in-depth look at the type of person you might add to your staff, and provides you the opportunity to investigate comments and photos you might not be able to find elsewhere. While a personal background check includes information such as a job candidate's credit, driving and education records, it fails to provide insight into the applicant's personality.

Additionally, the social networking website may help companies save money and time. With a Facebook password, a human resource supervisor might be able to learn a great deal about an applicant in a few minutes that he or she might not be able to comprehend otherwise.

"From the employer perspective, they are trying to rule out any illicit behavior that would lead to diminished performance at work or dismissal," Ari Lightman, director of the CIO Institute at the Carnegie Mellon Institute, told The BrainYard.

You can avoid investing valuable resources and time on a job candidate if his or her Facebook profile does not correspond to your company's personality. 

Cons

Some job applicants might see an employer's request as an invasion of privacy, which could negatively affect an organization's reputation. If your business requires employees to provide their Facebook password as part of the hiring process, you risk alienating the candidate, and could miss out on opportunities to attract top talent to your company.

"Once you start asking people to reveal everything about themselves, which is irrelevant to their ability to be able to do a job, you are getting into a tricky area," Sarah Veale, head of equality and employment rights for the United Kingdom's Trades Union Congress, told The Telegraph. 

Other flaws exist with the request for Facebook passwords. Although the social networking site has attracted more than 169 million active American users, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reports, employees who do not have accounts could be impacted by the process. Depending on the employer, this candidate's lack of a Facebook account could help or harm their chances of landing a job.

Meanwhile, a Facebook profile does not necessarily provide a complete picture of an applicant's qualifications for a specific position. Pictures of a candidate's family camping trip or weekend in the city could be taken out of context easily by employers, potentially harming both an organization and the applicant. 

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