Should You Do a Social Media Check on Your Prospective Hire?
Looking to hire? Pronexia’s Headhunters of the New Generation are here to provide you with advice and guidance stemming from our 10+ years of experience recruiting for Canada’s small and medium-sized businesses.
So you met an incredible candidate for that new role for your team through your recruitment firm partner, and you’re ready to hire her. After three interviews, their skills match up, their personality seems great, and their values seem to fit with the culture of your team and the organization as a whole. Awesome – couldn’t ask for more! That recruitment firm (likely Pronexia) hit a home-run once again – it’s time to bring the candidate on board. Before confirming it all with the firm’s headhunter, you stop and consider quickly punching the candidate’s name into Google just to see what comes up. But is it a good idea?
The short answer is: absolutely. In theory, your recruitment firm should have made sure to scope out the candidate’s online presence on their own – it’s their duty to inform you of any relevant information – positive or negative – that they come across while doing their own research into a candidate before sending them your way. But if you have a tendency to rely on your own research, is it considered morally acceptable to scope out a potential candidate’s social media activities during the hiring process? Are the two worlds (work and personal) not entirely separate, and create a sense of boundary-crossing that, in truth, can be a slippery slope? Is it even a good thing to know what your employees, potential or existing, are up to on social media?
Again: absolutely. The truth is, we live in an age where the digital information on an individual is not only the easiest accessible in history, but the boundaries between our digital “identities” are at their thinnest. LinkedIn is constantly oscillating back and forth between the professional and the personal, getting more Facebook-esque every day. Organizations are fully present on all digital social media platforms, and many literally depend on them for both branding and for hiring. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are at best an abstract glimpse into a person’s life, and the worst a total and utter reflection of every detail of their life. As a hiring manager and as an individual responsible for upholding the culture and values of your company, it is equally your responsibility to make sure a candidate lines up accordingly. The consequences of bringing on someone who doesn’t line up, culturally or otherwise, can be detrimental in many ways – hence why we’ve seen, time and again, that culture and “fit” are everything. If checking one’s social media profiles is a way of screening that cultural “fit,” and of making sure a candidate aligns with your organization, I’d say it needs to be done.
That being said, I wouldn’t go full-fledged Private Investigator on a candidate or an employee, for that matter. I’d certainly suggest a quick glance to ensure nothing overly questionable exists in the social media version of that person, but I’d quickly end it after the glance is done. It’s your job to do your homework, both for the protection of your organization and of the team you’ve built, to make sure nobody toxic or questionable infiltrates the awesome vibe you’ve created. But, it’s a slippery slope, and the truth is: many people’s social media presence doesn’t really reflect their personalities, beliefs, or attitudes in a real way, and can easily be misinterpreted.
The candidate posts two selfies a day on Instagram? A tad vain, but nothing to worry about. They’re on Twitter retweeting tweets sympathetic to the Donald Trump presidential campaign? Again, questionable and deeply worrisome depending on your politics, but nothing earth-shattering. They constantly update their Facebook status discussing (trashing) their current employer’s managers, issues, policies, strategies, clients, or anything that stands out as being potentially damaging to you as a future employer? Bingo: definitely a red flag – worth discussing with the recruitment firm that sent you the candidate. Maybe it’s not a deal-breaker, and maybe there’s a way of explaining it, but the information is pertinent, and had you not taken the social media glance, you wouldn’t have known about it.
So I suggest taking the social media “glance,” but don’t stress too heavily over it. We’re living in a digital age where information on a person remains present online (nearly) forever, and if the values you’ve created at your company truly matter to you, it’s your job to make sure you hire people who uphold, reflect, and embody them.
Stefano Faustini, Headhunter – Pronexia Inc.