How Employers Use Social Media to Evaluate Candidates

Social media profiles are public and fair game for evaluating candidates. However, some information is inappropriate and crosses the personal and professional lines.

Imagine that you’re in the process of hiring for a new role with a primarily public-facing responsibility. You’ve narrowed the list of candidates to five people and are preparing for interviews.

Job Description

Traditionally, employers rely on speaking to references and performing background checks to get an accurate depiction of a candidate’s character. However, social media provides a window into an applicant’s personal life that may shed light on their values and attitudes. Getting this insight into a candidate’s character can help an organization avoid future legal issues by hiring candidates who adhere to company policies and procedures, minimize ethical violations, and positively contribute to the work culture.

For example, a candidate who posts online about their dissatisfaction with their current employer could raise red flags about the suitability of that person for the job. Likewise, if a candidate reveals that they are a frequent drinker on their social media profile, an employer might have concerns about that person’s ability to do the job safely.

The social media check for employment can also help employers verify a candidate’s resume information. For example, suppose a candidate claims to have a bachelor’s degree in business administration but needs to list it on LinkedIn. In that case, an employer might consider that the candidate exaggerated their application. Social media evaluations can also help weed out candidates with offensive political views or those who post hateful comments about specific races, religions, or genders. Employers must be careful not to expand their social media searches beyond what is permissible under federal, state, and local anti-discrimination laws.

Company Culture

The company culture is an important aspect of a job. People who fit in with a company’s culture are more likely to enjoy their work and be more productive than those who don’t. Companies use social media to find candidates who will fit in with the culture, but this can be problematic if not done properly. Social media screening without strict policies can lead to unconscious bias and discrimination. For example, if you look at a candidate’s social media profile and see that she loves sports and has a dog, you might think she will be a good fit for your organization, even though you know this is not true.

The fact that social media profiles are a personal space for many users means they only sometimes present an accurate picture of a person. In addition, some of the information found on a candidate’s social media can be illegal, such as if the employer finds comments about a specific race, religion, or sexual orientation.

For this reason, employers should consult human resources before utilizing social media to evaluate candidates. A qualified HR professional can help develop clear guidelines and prevent potential pitfalls. Having a plan for evaluating candidates’ social media can make the hiring process more efficient and accurate and reduce the time it takes to get new hires up and running.

Job Requirements

Evaluating candidates’ character is an important part of the recruiting process, and social media can provide valuable insights into a candidate’s personality and characteristics. Recruiters should look for positive traits, such as leadership and ethics, which will help to build and maintain a strong work culture and ensure compliance with organizational policies and procedures.

A candidate’s social media profile can reveal much about their personal life, including what they post online and what they like to do for fun. If this information is used to make hiring decisions, it can lead to legal risks. For example, if a potential employee is tagged in photos or videos that show them drinking alcohol or engaging in other illegal activities, it could lead to discrimination claims.

Using social media to evaluate applicants can be useful for assessing candidates’ skills and experience, but it’s essential to be mindful of the risks involved. Employers should be transparent and respectful when using social media to source candidates, and they should only use publicly available information. They should also be aware of the privacy settings on each platform and avoid using information that may violate a candidate’s rights.

When using social media to evaluate candidates, it’s important to have a clear set of guidelines for screening and reviewing profiles. This will help to avoid biases and protect the company from legal action.


According to a Harris Poll, seventy percent of hiring managers use social media to evaluate candidates. But, as with any evaluation tool, it is important to follow best practices to avoid bias and unfair judgment. Without strict policies, it is easy to fall into affinity and stereotype bias. For example, when evaluating a candidate with a great social media profile and strong professional experience, it is possible to unconsciously favor her because she is a woman or a member of a particular ethnicity. This type of bias can lead to a bad hire.

Social media screening can also be a useful way to confirm the integrity of information provided on job applications. For instance, if a candidate claims to have earned a bachelor’s degree from a certain university, employers can check their social media to see if they have verified this information.

However, it is important for hiring managers to understand that they can only use the information they find online to evaluate a candidate’s qualifications for the job. It is illegal and unethical for hiring managers to make decisions based on sensitive personal data that could include their age, religion, political affiliations, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy status, or disability. If a hiring manager becomes aware of this data during the evaluation process, they must pass on the candidate.

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