The truth about social media screening

  • October 1, 2018
  • Owen Madrick

The sheer amount of information you can access about someone through social media is dizzying. As people continue to maximize their digital footprints through platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, recruitment specialists are also taking notice.

That said, everything isn’t fair game.

There’s no denying social media’s impact on hiring practices in recent years. There are, however, certain legalities that need to be considered before proceeding with a deep dive of a candidate’s activities on these platforms.

In order to avoid potential legal issues, recruiters need to conduct social media screenings accordingly. It isn’t as simple as logging onto to Twitter to dig up dirt at random. There have to be well-established hiring practices in place to legally determine whether the candidate is suitable for a particular role.

The Social Media Screening Parameters

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of how to legally use social media screening, it’s important to know exactly what it entails.

The main idea behind social media screening is to gain insights into a candidate that aren't revealed in the interview process. Uncovering criminal, violent, racist, intolerant and sexually explicit behaviours through social media can help determine a candidate’s eligibility for the role.

It's also important to recognize the role of bias, conscious or unconscious, in social media screening, as well. If an organization’s in-house recruitment specialist already has a gut feeling about a particular candidate, that particular candidate may be out of the running before they've even seen something on social media they may not agree with.

As such, third-party screening services are always a good idea. The service can provide social media screening and only identify the most relevant information to the job itself and the safety of employees.

Establish Dependable Hiring Practices

When it comes to any type of recruitment strategy, social media screening included, consistency is always key.

Every recruitment process should lay out, in clear terms, how information is being collected and documented, how it complies with the employment laws of that country, and what individuals have access and decision-making authority based on the information.

Accurate recordkeeping is also crucial to this process. If someone decides to pursue legal action, you need to prove that your decision not to hire them was job-related only. Be sure you're complying to any employment law. Having specific details related to employment decisions is of the utmost importance in this respect.

How to Use Information Uncovered on Social Media

Now that you’ve legally accessed information to a candidate’s social media profile, you have to know what you’re doing with it.

If you’re in the social media screening process, the information has to be related to the job. As a recruitment specialist, if you’re looking at irrelevant hiring factors such as race, religion, sexual orientation, or political affiliation — that can derail your entire recruitment process.

Proving that you didn’t use this information in your hiring decision is also extremely difficult. The findings you make on social media need to be connected to the performance and responsibilities of the job.

For example, think of someone applying to a television station with a predominantly African-American audience. If that candidate is found to have made several racial comments against African-Americans on Twitter, that can be enough to eliminate them from the recruitment process. Since those comments were made on a public platform, the television station can determine that the person is not suitable for the job based on the station’s values as a broadcaster.

Let us handle the screening process for you and give you all the job-related information you need to make your next great hire. Book a demo today to find out how we can help perfect your hiring practices.