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Almost everyone has social media accounts these days. While these accounts tell you almost everything there is to know about a candidate, the information their profiles offer may unfairly bias your hiring team and cause a legal headache. These are the reasons why you might consider accessing candidates’ social media profiles when hiring and the best practices you should follow if you ultimately choose to view candidate profiles.

Reasons You Might Use Social Media

Social media can be a great resource for recruiters to locate candidates. It can also be helpful in determining whether a candidate is a good cultural and personality fit for your company. Social media can also provide hiring managers with a means of conducting reference checks.

Know the Legal Issues

Looking into your candidate’s social media during the hiring process can have legal ramifications if you are not cautious. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) made it illegal for HR or managers to ask candidates about their age, marital status, religion, and other personal factors that could lead to discrimination during the hiring process. Bias created by using social media during the hiring process can create serious problems for your company. Tread carefully if you want to pursue using social media—this is absolutely a time to call your lawyer to ensure you do not overstep your legal bounds.

Inform the Candidates

If you plan to check social media in any way during the hiring process, you should notify the candidate after the interview that you will look at their public social media profiles and any other public information shared online. Candidates will appreciate this transparency and the respect it affords them.

Only Use Public Information

While it may be tempting to see everything that a candidate has shared online, do not seek out protected material a candidate has shared on social media. Only access readily-available public information. Requesting to “friend” a candidate to see more of their profile (or pursuing less legal means of viewing private information) is asking for trouble and should be avoided at all costs.

Ultimately, the use of social media for reference checks should be handled like all other steps of the interview process: with organization, respect, and decisiveness. It is up to your hiring team and legal department to determine if social media should be used in the hiring process and what the proper approach is for using social media to further investigate candidates.

If you are concerned about best practices while hiring, request an appointment with our business development team today.


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