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2013-12-05 00:00:00GeneralEnglishbackground checks pre-hiring: The power of social media has today given a voice to everyone and people have increasingly become much freer. Social Media the right channel for background checks pre-hiring?

Is Social Media the right channel for background checks pre-hiring?

3 min read

The power of social media has today given a voice to everyone and people have increasingly become much freer with their personal opinions, information and ‘what is on their minds’.

With people today essentially living out their lives on social media and using it from everything to finding new partners to searching new jobs, it is but a natural progression for companies to make social media an important part of background checks for new hires. But the question to ask is, “Is Social media the right channel for background checks pre-hiring?” Let us explore this with some Pros and Cons.

Pros of using Social media for background checks 1. A window to the personality of the hire

A reasonable judgment can be made about the personality of the potential hire by looking at their posts, comments, shares, ‘likes’ and other forms of social media activity.

It would be easier to find out if someone seems to be a misogynist, a racist, a political hardliner or carrying any other form of extremist tendencies, through social media, than through a face-to-face interview where people usually come with well-prepared rehearsed answers.

2. Any incorrect or wrong information on the CV could be found

It is nothing new for potential candidates to lie or exaggerate in their CV and this is something that has always made the job of an HR manager, hard. The traditional background checks are much more expensive and not always feasible for a small size business, hence a social media background check can be helpful in this regard.

This is because when people usually have their school friends, college friends, family and work colleagues added on their social media accounts, they generally cannot lie in front of them about their qualifications or experience. Hence, it is easier to get the correct information about their qualifications and professional experience by going through their social media accounts.

3. Specific soft skills needed in the job could be better analyzed

Certain jobs require a lot of socializing and talking to people. Through social media, one could correctly analyze whether or not the person who seems quite bright in the interview, is, in fact, good with people or not.

Through their social media updates and usually through their photo updates which show them socializing in person, this could be correctly analyzed. Also by the manner in which they frame their sentences in their comments and posts, one could also get a reasonable judgment on how these potential new hires express themselves, naturally.

Cons of using social media for background check 1. Could lead to bias

Since people tend to share personal information and opinions on social media, it may be so that the recruiters may sometimes show a personal bias towards the candidate. For example, someone’s religious beliefs are a personal choice and a new hire must not be discriminated against or preferred over if they seem to be overly religious.

However, if someone seems intolerant towards other religions which comes out clearly through their posts, comments, shares, etc, and then this could be a valid point against hiring them.

2. It could be misleading

It also happens that some people live they are alter egos on social media. They try to act much more ‘flippant’ and ‘cool’ in order to impress their peers. This social media personality of theirs could be quite opposite to them being quite organized and dedicated in reality. In such a case, looking into their social media would only give a wrong judgment into their true working style.

3. Could lead to discrimination

Sometimes certain information like sexual orientation or political affiliation could easily lead to discrimination against the potential hire. In such a case, the educational or professional credentials of the new hire is overshadowed by irrelevant personal information, which apart from being a disadvantage for the person may also not be good for the organization.

Hence, the usage of social media for a pre-hire background check is a good tool but like all tools, it must be used with caution and skill. Small and medium-sized businesses can make use of it as an inexpensive form of background check but they must also be wary of its cons while benefiting from its pros.

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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