Compliance News

Should You Be Screening Candidates’ Social Media?

With billions of people documenting their lives and sharing their information on social media platforms, sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram should be one of the most valuable ways to learn more about candidates, right? Not so fast.

It’s tempting for recruiters to look at prospective hires’ public social media presence for insight. More than 60 percent of employers say they use social networking sites to research job candidates, according to a CareerBuilder survey released earlier this year. That’s an 8 percent since over 2015 and a 38 percent increase since 2008.


In this year’s survey, 49 percent of hiring managers who screen candidates via social networks said they’ve found information that caused them not to hire a candidate. Top pieces of content that turned them off include:


  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information (46 percent)
  • Information about candidate drinking or using drugs (43 percent)
  • Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc. (33 percent)
  • Candidate bad-mouthed previous company or fellow employee (31 percent)
  • Poor communication skills (29 percent)


Recruiters reported they were looking to verify candidates’ background, see whether they represented themselves professionally and seemed like a good fit with company culture. But there are also risks to researching candidates in this way. Given the sensitive nature of this research and how difficult it is to verify information found on social media, Approved Hire doesn’t offer social media background checks or recommend getting them from any screening service


If you are checking candidates’ social profiles, there are a few things to be aware of. Firstly, once someone in a recruiting or hiring position has reviewed a candidate’s social media accounts, a court will assume they are aware of a candidate’s gender, race religion, age, sexual orientation or disability, all things which cannot legally factor into hiring decisions.


It’s also important to keep in mind that the candidate may not have control over everything posted, like comments made by others on their page or images of them shared or tagged by friends. And remember that while it’s legal to view a candidate’s public accounts, it is unlawful to demand access to a candidate’s social media profiles in a number of states.


If you do decide to use social media in your recruiting and hiring process, determine a set point when you will always research all candidates, such as after an interview is conducted. Document anything you see on their accounts that may factor into your decision and proceed with caution—whatever you find on social media represents one part of what a person brings to the table.


Interviews and screenings to verify their employment and education and search out criminal history should also be considered. Find out more about the screenings we recommend.

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