Social media has become a personal branding tool and to create connections professionally rather than just a place to connect personally or a place to put up your voice. Now many HR professionals search their candidate online to learn more about them. Those various channels include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Behance (for artists and creatives) and much more. It provides a generic idea into the lives of the candidates and what kind of persona they carry. There has been a huge debate regarding the use of social media as a screening method. Some people are of the opinion that the social media impression gives an idea about the candidate if they are suitable for the organization as a person, and some are of the view that it does not show as to how the candidate will perform for the organization. Nevertheless, keeping all the arguments aside the curiosity to know the candidate in the social media platform has become an unsaid practice for many HR professionals.

Social Media Screening Pros Cons

Pros of Social Media Screening:

1. Insight in the informal life of a candidate: During the job interview the candidate tends to put up the best foot in every aspect,hence, it does not vide complete information as to how will a candidate behave on a day to day work. Social media is effective in viding such information, where the employers can see how a candidate behaves in a normal day.

Learning the kind of content they post or share, how they interact with the people online. If they use derogatory words or abuse someone online then the employers know about it. Respect for others is always the main agenda for an employer that they look in a candidate and this information can easily be found in social media space. Finding a consistent sharing of information which might not be healthy can vide the employer about the knowledge of the nature of that person, hence is an important point considered while hiring.

2. Easy background check: It is a cheap way for a background check, the employer can access them anywhere they are and can make an immediate decision of hiring the candidate. It saves a lot of time to learn about the candidate through Facebook and LinkedIn profiles and does not require any additional money to be spent on this.The money spent on background checking is huge and the employer tends to save a lot by using social media.

Facebook videos an easy insight for the candidate’s day to day life, Twitter is good to learn about how opinionated they are or about their personal thoughts. On the other hand, LinkedIn is good to learn about their professional makeup. With so many aspects of the candidate available on the web, it is easy to know about them in a complete way.

3. Recommendations can be an added advantage: The employer can read about the recommendations about the candidate from the previous employers on LinkedIn. Recently, this platform has gained a lot of popularity among the professionals regarding knowing the employer and a potential employee. It becomes as an added advantage as to choose the right candidate since it vides a professional insight and soft skills of the candidate.

In the process of background check, this comes as a handy tool for the employer. It vides an information that how the senior management and colleagues look towards the candidate work-wise as it is an impact creating evidence by the desired candidate. In these recommendations, one can also learn about how the candidate managed to work through the challenges that came during the work.

4. Relevant to the social media professionals: Social media screening can be highly effective for people who are looking jobs in a similar domain. For an employer, it is an easy check if the candidate is apt for that specific profile by tracking their web footprint. For a social media specialist, the importance of their job skill increases when they themselves are keen and quite good in their brand management on the web. This tends to become their portfolio, where the employer can not only learn about the desired candidate but also know their skills and knowledge in the domain. With the web becoming a major space for people to be in, a person who stands out the most and best to catch the eye of the employer and the people are considered good with their online marketing skills.

5. Opportunity for the candidate: Social media platforms are the most coveted space these days. It is not only a space to interact with people or connect and meet new people. But it is also space where an individual can decide as to how people would like to perceive them. In current scenarios, it is important to keep yourself up to date in various web spaces and interact with people whom you might not find an opportunity to have a face to face interaction.

The candidate must focus on their social media image, research and take references as to how the best people in the industry have their effective online presence. How they would like the employer to see them and keep their online space up to date. For the employers, it will be an important point to consider as to how active and effective is the candidate.

6. Limited screening is effective: For an employer to learn the basic about the candidate social media is effective only to know more about them rather than making a final decision based on it. As a pre-screening tool, this is effective but one also needs to keep in mind what all social media platforms will be relevant to consider the candidate for the profile. Since, information on web platforms varies a lot hence, too much information will ruin the chances for the hiring manager to get the correct information about the person.
For example, Instagram may be used as a personal profile album for someone from software industry as compared to a fashion designer who will use Instagram more for their creative aspects. The streamlining of the information will be effective to know the candidate.

Cons of Social Media Screening:

1. Invading privacy and knowledge of personal matter: Social media is a personal space for many. They interact casually with their friends and other people, hence, it is not an assurance of their behavior when in an office. One cannot combine the professional aspect and the personal aspect of the candidate. Because generally most of the people carry a different persona in different spaces, depending on the surrounding and people they interact.
Social media screening is also invading the privacy of the candidate. The information they share on these platforms are mostly for personal use and are not necessarily meant for professional use. Hence, checking on these data for hiring is getting into personal space without permission. The information about age or any other influencing factor might come in these platforms which a candidate might not have mentioned in the resume.

2. Inconsistent information available: Every person uses social media spaces in different ways. One candidate might post a lot of information or blogs on their account while the other might hardly use any social media platforms. Lack of consistent information about the candidates applying for same jobs is a problem that cannot be resolved by social media screening. The presence of every person on social media also varies along with their content management. One candidate might be on Facebook, LinkedIn and other might not have a Facebook account.

For a job file, a similar information should be looked in to make the final decision among the applicant. These inconsistent information availabilities can hinder the decision in hiring. For example, those who are active on these platforms may also mention things which might not be easily approved or may seem as an unfit candidate while less active candidate on these platforms might not have any negative content. Yet it is hard to know if the latter will be a better candidate for the employer than the first one.

3. Lack of reliability: Social media is definitely not the most reliable source of information for everything. It does not let know the employer about any criminal record held by the candidate, nor any other personal information which might be important for the employer to look out for but the candidate might be hiding it.

Also, in the cases where the accounts are hacked also pose a danger for the incorrect information about the candidate. Sometimes there are multiple accounts with the same name or the presence of fake account, hence increasing the risk of knowing about the correct account of the person. Many people tend to put up with the privacy settings, hence, the employer might not get any information regarding the candidate.

4. Increase in favoritism: Social media screening can result in the employer having the liking for a specific candidate and favor them more than the deserving one.One might can see and learn about the things they like or have in common with the employer, this will naturally develop a certain emotional liking towards that specific person.This liking does not guarantee the candidate to be the right person for the job. While the candidate who has nothing in common with the employer may be a better person for work. Similarities with the person tend to unknowingly favor the employer towards them. Since, we all tend to unconsciously judge people by our emotions, hence, social media screening is a risky terrain to be in.

5. Amount of information control: In Facebook, friends of the candidate might post something on their timeline which might not be liked by the employer much. This will lead to the immediate judgment about the candidate and in truth, it might be something which is not even relevant to the candidate. This irregularity hinders to have a clear picture about the person.

There are many instances when people hack the accounts and post embarrassing content through the person’s page which is not what a person is and they want to know about it immediately also. While on Twitter, the person can decide to follow anyone, but who follows them can only be controlled by the settings. But Facebook is the most widely used social media platform which can lead to ambiguous information about the candidate.

6. Leading to legal issues: Social media screening comes with laws and legal issues as much as they hold the benefits. Every social media platform has relevant legal clause mentioned regarding their usage. Employers cannot ask the candidate about their passwords or any other information to have a thorough social space screening. The issues regarding hiring judgment made on the basis of caste, culture, gender, religion tend to crop up most while social media screening.

If in case, the candidate finds out that the selection was made on the basis of any discrimination based on social space, it can lead to the legal action against the employer. Then they not only have to deal with all the legal hassle but also it will tarnish their reputation, hence, social media screening is quite risky.

Social media screening no matter how tempting and effective it seems does not vide complete information about a candidate, nor is a sure method to approach one. It should not be considered as the final screening method of hiring process. A small pre-screening way to know the candidate might be a simple yet effective idea, to begin with. It is highly advised to ensure a thorough background check of the candidate while making a final call, checking from criminal records, reference check, etc. The important thing is people behave differently in the workspace as compared to the web space, while the direct interaction is also different from how people write on the web. There are many cases where a person might not be able to talk many face to face or might not be good at negotiations yet can write a lot on social media platforms. Therefore, an employer must take a wise call as to how much they need to consider social media screening while making a hiring decision.