Should you be using social media to screen your candidates before making a hiring decision?

Because candidates are using social media to search for you.

Are you using social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook to research your applicants? If you are, chances are, you're not alone.

According to recent polls, the majority of employers are using social media platforms to do a background check on the applicants as part of the recruiting process. About 70% of employers do so and has been a part of their recruiting and onboarding process.

While this percentage may seem high, with social media platforms being used everywhere, some might wonder why a larger portion aren’t yet using it?

Information from these platforms are free and it's easier to be able to have a sneak peek at the characteristics of the people they are to employ, using this method also poses some disadvantages.

In this post, we'll take a look at the different advantages and disadvantages of social media screening, so let's get started!

What Are The Benefits Of Using Social Media To Screen Applicants?

There's no price to pay to generate information, especially on public profiles.

This is one of the benefits that many people take advantage of. As long as their profiles are in public, you can check their social media presence, posts, a person's details and other essential information for your job recruiting process. A simple search on social media will yield a lot of information about your applicant.

For instance. When you check their LinkedIn account, you can have a quick glimpse of what other people say about the job seeker. You can also check if that person is being recommended by others, and if you dig deeper, you can check some insights and see what special characteristics that candidate has that may be of value to the job and the company at the same time.

Using social media has helped in screening new trainees by identifying people with the traits they look for. Social media platforms make it easier for the hiring team to weed out the good from the bad applicants. Unfortunately, some applicants have social media profiles that showcase bad decisions, judgments and even may portray bad behaviour. Social media provides the option to check those things out before you schedule an initial interview.

Which means, you save time and you can immediately shortlist applications.

What Are The Disadvantages And Risks Of Using Social Media Screening?

As beneficial as it may be, when it comes to social media, your decision-making thoughts and processes may be unconsciously clouded and even biased depending on what you see. For instance, you did the screening of a specific candidate on social media and that person has a clean and neat profile. He has a dog, he's into sports, and you just noticed that he is a member of a religious group.

Based on a recent study, 51% of employers avoided candidates who indulge in political rants online. So by watching your candidates you can get a feel for their personality and whether they’ll add to your work environment, or detract from it.

And then, you see another candidate and she just recently announced on social media that she's expecting. Undoubtedly, she has an amazing profile, but because of that announcement you just saw, you'll have this thought that she may go on leave after a year, and unconsciously, your judgments are starting to become bias because of this.

If during the interview process you don't ask questions related to the disclosure of information that you've researched from their social media profiles (and you shouldn't by the way), then you need to make sure that you weigh the pros and cons of social media screening, especially more personal profiles like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

If you've been found out that you've been using social media to screen a candidate, you may be at risk of being accused of allegations of discrimination. Any person can simply claim that you've seen their religion, ethnicity and background and even other personal information and used those types of information throughout your decision-making process.

Even if you don't use social media to screen applicants, some of these people can easily make accusations assuming that you've viewed their public social media profiles.

Business advisors at Max Funding say, “to protect yourself and your company from a lawsuit, one should always bear in mind to have a documented screening policy, which also indicates the person's qualifications. This also includes writing down your decision-making process, how you decide which candidate moves on, and who doesn't. This can save you from any problems down the line.”

How Should You Move Forward With Social Media?

If you still intend to utilize social media for screening applicants, you should always bear in mind some of these tips:

✔︎ Only perform a social media check on that applicant after giving them a job offer. The contingency of the offer will be completed once the final checks are done.

✔︎ Make sure that you have a standard screening process in place. This process will demonstrate how your decisions are made and are processed throughout the hiring process.

✔︎ You may also want to consider hiring a third-party company checking their social media platforms, with that company providing you ONLY WITH work-related information.