Screening out job candidates who look tipsy on Facebook may seem obvious, but there are pitfalls to this approach.
College students who post intoxicated selfies have turned out to be just as responsible as those who don’t advertise their partying, according to a study from North Carolina State University. Those who posted party photos were simply more extroverted.
By eliminating honest partiers, “you might be throwing out the very people you want,” says a co-author of the study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.
The study involved 175 college students who used Facebook, applied for a temporary job and answered questions measuring extroversion, agreeableness, responsibility and conscientiousness. Two weeks later, they were surveyed about their Facebook posts.
Students who posted negative comments about professors and other students were—surprise!—less polite, less good-natured and less flexible offline.
What’s more, many job candidates have already clamped down on their privacy settings, and some are ditching Facebook entirely.
In another study of 545 college students, demographic differences emerged regarding who is more likely to restrict settings. According to the Northwestern University study in IEEE Privacy and Security, white students were more likely than African-Americans, Asian-Americans or Hispanics to manage their privacy settings.
Employers that screen via Facebook are in danger of screening out diversity.
Bottom line: Eventually, social media may yield valid, data-driven information about job candidates, but for now, the science isn’t ready, and seeing shouldn’t be believing.