Relying on Social Media to Assess Job Applicants: The Limitations

Recruiters rely heavily on technology and social media to promote new job openings, so then what happens when a promising candidate applies? Social media once again plays a role where the organization is tempted to locate the candidate’s profile on Facebook.com or other sites. Ultimately, the strategy creates an intercha5624177651_5393210133_z.jpgngeable lens from personnel  to personal selection.

The study, “Social Media for Selection? Validity and Adverse Impact Potential of a Facebook-Based Assessment,” published in the Journal of Management examines how recruiters evaluate a candidate’s social media profile, and what those limitations are. The JOM study was also recently featured in an article from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, naming it one of the top 10 most significant studies with practical utility in 2016. Click here to view the original post from SIOP.

Below, please find the abstract to the article:

Recent reports suggest that an increasing number of organizations are using information from social media platforms such as Facebook.com to screen job applicants. Unfortunately, empirical research concerning the potential implications of this practice is extremely limited. We address the use of social media for selection by examining how recruiter ratings of Facebook profiles fare with respect to two important criteria on which selection procedures are evaluated: criterion-related validity and subgroup differences (which can lead to adverse impact). We captured Facebook profiles of college students who were applying for full-time jobs, and recruiters from various organizations reviewed the profiles and provided evaluations. We then followed up with applicants in their new jobs. Recruiter ratings of applicants’ Facebook information were unrelated to supervisor ratings of job performance (rs = −.13 to –.04), turnover intentions (rs = −.05 to .00), and actual turnover (rs = −.01 to .01). In addition, Facebook ratings did not contribute to the prediction of these criteria beyond more traditional predictors, including cognitive ability, self-efficacy, and personality. Furthermore, there was evidence of subgroup difference in Facebook ratings that tended to favor female and White applicants. The overall results suggest that organizations should be very cautious about using social media information such as Facebook to assess job applicants.

The article is co-authored by Chad H. Van Iddekinge, Stephen E. Lanivich, Philip L. Roth, and Elliott Junco. It is currently free to read for a limited time, by clicking here.

Don’t forget to sign up for email alerts through the Journal of Management homepage so you never miss the latest research.

Facebook photo attributed to Pascal Paukner (CC).

 

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