social media

While it has been the standard for companies to perform criminal background checks, using social media to screen candidates is still fairly new.  As social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter become more popular, so does the amount of employers utilizing social media while hiring.   In fact, according to a recent poll conducted by CareerBuilder, sixty percent of employers use social media to research candidates.  This number is up seven percent since last spring, and will most likely continue to grow in the upcoming years.  If you are unfamiliar with using social media as a screening method, or in need of a refresher, here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.

Don’t: Look Before the Initial Interview

Even though you may want to get a jump-start on screening candidates, it is best practice to avoid using social media to research job candidates before their initial interview.  By waiting until you have met the candidates, you are ensuring that you don’t form any biases before meeting them.

Do:  Have a Goal

Before you start looking at candidates’ social media profiles, have a goal in mind.  Rather than looking at social media sites without a plan, think about what you hope to gain from using them.  For platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter your objective may be to find out if they are involved in their community and if their values match with those of your company.  For LinkedIn, you might want to check out their endorsements and make sure that their profile aligns with the resume they gave you.

Don’t: Get Distracted

With all of the ads and articles on social media, it is easy to get distracted.  One way to stay on task is to make a checklist that focuses on the details that are relevant to the job that you are hiring for.  The checklist that you use should be the same for all candidates to keep your social media screening consistent.

Do:  Take Note of Their Privacy Settings

Although you want to know more about the job candidate, it’s best if their profile is non-existent or their privacy settings ensure that you don’t see more than a profile picture.  Essentially when you hire a candidate they become an ambassador for your company; as a result, you don’t want their personal profile to be a representation of your business.  It’s also best if clients don’t have access to personal information about your employees via social media sites.

Don’t: Send Them a Friend Request

While it may be frustrating if you aren’t able to view a candidate’s profile due to privacy settings, sending them a friend request is out of the question.  Even though sending them a friend request may grant you access to their profile, it crosses the boundary between personal and professional.  It puts the candidate in an uncomfortable position where they may feel obligated to accept your request even though they prefer to keep their profile private.

Do:  Look for Red Flags

While you are conducting your screening, be aware of red flags.  Can you see any illegal activity?  Do you notice any questionable posts?  It’s important to keep an eye out for any activity on social media that doesn’t support your company’s core values.


Although screening job candidates through social media can give you some insight into how well the applicant will fit in with your company, don’t forget the importance of the interview and the interactions that you have with the candidates.