Recruiters and employers are using social media to screen job applicants on a daily basis. Employers are Googling, Facebooking and checking tweets, walls, status updates and photos of prospective employees, including their Linkedln accounts, as a first step in recruiting.
From this new employment practice, the concept of the social interview was born.
The social interview is an idea that advertising agency R/GA implemented to interview friends of job candidates in their recruiting and selection process when looking for “innovative and creative thinkers.” The company’s website explains:
As a part of the application process for the R/GA internship program, we’ll be posting questions on your Facebook wall for your friends to answer. First, you’ll apply through our Jobvite site. Next, when you’re ready, you’ll connect with us and view three questions. Then, we’ll post the three questions on your wall. (Don’t worry; it’ll be fun. Trust us.)
Note that candidates can opt in or out of this component of the selection process. However, is it really optional? If you decline to participate, does that mean you are not an “innovative and creative thinker” and not the candidate they are looking for?
Taking this concept out of the case study, it involves an employer obtaining permission from a job candidate to post three interview questions on their Facebook wall to obtain feedback from the candidate’s friends on the candidate. The goal is to get social references or recommendations to obtain a better picture of who the candidate is before you hire them.
It is not a concept that I am very comfortable with; in fact I find it very disturbing. For many Facebook users—probably the majority—not all of the people they are connected with are actually friends. Well I hope you know that! What if you’re so called Facebook “friends” start posting defamatory or unflattering comments about you in answer to these social interview questions? Even as a joke, such a response could have disastrous results.
Also, do all your friends know how you work and how you would perform your job, or act in a professional context?
Facebook was created to share personal information, to reconnect with family and friends and to share special moments, and not to be used as a job reference on your ability to do your job or a reflection to be a good fit for a company.
Many would consider this as a breach of privacy, crossing the line between the workplace and your home life.
Can Facebook really tell you the quality of person you are hiring? Well it seems that many employers think that looking at your Facebook page before inviting you for an interview will provide them with a fairly accurate reflection of how good you’ll be at the job.
I would love to know what you think of this concept and if it is something you would implement in your recruiting and selection process.
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Managing Editor