Social Media: Friend or Foe to Hiring Managers?

AppleSocial media profiles can be like a window into someone’s life. They can reveal a person’s personality, their likes and dislikes, and even their work ethic – making it a valuable and informative tool for potential employers during a recruitment period.

Public postings may yield information that suggest the candidate may not be the best fit for the job — for example, they may frequently post that they have missed work, or are late to the office.  On a positive note, however, does your candidate update his profile on a regular basis with thoughtful information, or express a deep interest in cars while applying for a position at a dealership?  That type of information can be both easily determined — and is lawful to examine — when considering an applicant for the job.

But beware of using information that a court would determine to be “protected characteristics.” Aside from gender and race, which could reasonably be identified during a face-to-face interview, a person’s online profile could also reveal an applicant’s religion, age, sexual orientation or disabilities. Potential employers should be careful not to craft or expand any interview questions based on protected characteristics, which goes beyond what the law allows

Many experts also suggest monitoring social media after an initial meeting with the applicant, and not before you’ve met.

“If you choose to review social media as part of your hiring practices, it’s a better practice to wait until after you’ve met a candidate face to face,” David Baffa, labor and employment partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP, told employment website Monster.com.

By using social media in this more targeted way, Baffa said, “you are less likely to be accused of making snap selection decisions, or of relying on protected characteristics evident from a social network profile.”

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