- HR pros should consider devising social media screening policies for hiring managers, according to Penn State research released Feb. 5.
- "To maximize the benefit of using social networking content for selection purposes, organizations should set guidelines for what content is relevant and should be examined, specify what content is irrelevant and potentially discriminatory and develop standardized rating systems to make the evaluation process more objective," said Michael Tews, associate professor of hospitality management at Penn State, in a statement.
- The recommendation was the result of research that found recruiters were likely to pass over candidates who expressed strong views, seemed self-absorbed or suggested drug or alcohol use.
Both the Penn State study and others have determined that most employers screen candidates' social media profiles. Most check for behavior involving drugs, violence, bigotry or other unlawful activity, according to a 2019 First Advantage study; others report double checking applicants' credentials and education.
To avoid running afoul of applicable laws, however, experts have previously offered advice similar to Penn State's. Employers shouldn't conduct social media screens without proper guidance, Eric B. Meyer, partner at FisherBroyles LLP, told attendees at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's 2018 EXCEL Training Conference.
Among other things, HR should ensure that those doing the screening aren't the same people making the final hiring decision, Meyer said. Instead, screenings should occur only when candidates reach the final stages of the hiring process and that screeners report only red flags, such as bigotry.