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Asking Job Candidates for Facebook Passwords? Why Stop There?


Greta Roberts, CEO, Talent Analytics, Corp.
26 March 2012

There’s a lot of buzz right now about certain employers asking job candidates for access to their Facebook logins. I get it. Bad hiring decisions are expensive. Employers want every advantage to make sure they hire the best person for the role. They’ve been burned. And, hiring “right” is really hard.

It’s tempting to want to “peek” at all of this tasty data – just a password away. Facebook data gives you a look “behind the curtain”, maybe gives you a sense of the real person beyond what you learn from just their resume.

But, why stop at Facebook?

Let’s imagine a dystopian world where employers have access to all of our Facebook accounts as well as the Instant Messages on our Smartphones.  Let’s pretend they can attach a GPS system to our cars and follow us everywhere we go. Why not monitor everything we look at and eat and buy, or ask all our credit card companies for a list of all of our purchases over the last 15 years, by category?

All of this could give us additional insight into the person.

Beyond the despicable invasion of privacy, hiring managers and HR are still missing the point. If given all of this access, the problem remains where the person “doing the peeking” still needs to make a subjective judgment. Is it good or bad that this candidate spends a lot of time skiing? What does it mean (to performance in a role) if the candidate reads only fiction? How can HR or the Hiring Manager make a judgment call about information increasingly removed from performance in a role or company.

Beyond the obvious privacy invasion it’s amazing to see that in 2012 Hiring Managers, HR and Recruiters often opt for an approach that relies heavily on judgment calls, gathering random data that lacks context. This kind of approach gives those involved in the hiring process a perception of control. But it’s just that. Perception.

For me, the “Story Behind the Story” is that in 2012, despite advances in research around predicting top performers, many involved in the hiring process would often rather move to strip candidates of their privacy rather than recommend engage in a proven, scientific hiring approach.

Asking job candidates for Facebook passwords is a symptom, not the problem. The problem is continuing to treat talent data as if it’s precious and different. It’s a myth and results in illogical behavior like the above.

The “Story Behind the Story”? Business are desperate for a new approach to successful hiring. Business Executives need to direct hiring managers to learn about an analytics-based approach to hiring. It’s unbiased, repeatable, based on solid research and doesn’t violate privacy.

What’s your take? Comment below.

Greta Roberts is the CEO of Talent Analytics. Follow her on twitter @gretaroberts.




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2 Responses to “Asking Job Candidates for Facebook Passwords? Why Stop There?”

  1. Bryan Baldwin Says:

    March 27th, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Greta – couldn’t agree more. Do you think biodata might be part of the missing ingredient? It has the potential to speak to some of that “hidden data” that most hiring supervisors don’t get with interviews.

    Bryan

  2. Greta Roberts Says:

    March 27th, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Hi Randy, I don’t think biodata is the answer. People data is the answer. Data describing innate people characteristics. Biodata is an additional level of people meta-data.

    Why try to analyze by proxy (people meta-data) when you can analyze directly. Make sense?

    Greta

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