Yeah, pretty much everybody checks Facebook as part of their applicant screening process. And it turns out a big bunch of companies are misreading the info they glean from the social media giant.
A new study from North Carolina State University shows that many organizations may have a fundamental misunderstanding of online behavior and, as a result, may be eliminating desirable job candidates.
The conclusion? Employers may be looking for the wrong things on social media profiles.
Researchers tested 175 study participants to measure the personality traits that companies look for in job candidates, including “conscientiousness, agreeableness and extraversion,” according to a NCSU press release. The participants were then surveyed on their Facebook behavior, allowing researchers to see which Facebook behaviors were linked to specific personality traits.
But the researchers found no significant correlation between conscientiousness and an individual’s willingness to post content on Facebook about alcohol or drug use.
“This means companies are eliminating some conscientious job applicants based on erroneous assumptions regarding what social media behavior tells us about the applicants,” says Will Stoughton, a Ph.D. student at NC State and lead author of the paper.
One signal uncovered
And companies that are looking for extroverts – such as those hiring for sales or marketing positions – may be doing themselves an even worse disservice. The study found that extroverts were significantly more likely to post about drugs or alcohol on Facebook. So companies weeding out those applicants are likely to significantly limit the pool of job candidates who are extroverts.
However, the researchers did find one online indicator strongly correlated to the personality traits that employers look for:
Study participants who rated high on both agreeableness and conscientiousness were also very unlikely to “badmouth” or insult other people on Facebook.
“If employers plan to keep using social media to screen job applicants, this study indicates they may want to focus on eliminating candidates who badmouth others – not necessarily those who post about drinking beer,” Stoughton says.
The paper, “Big Five Personality Traits Reflected in Job Applicants’ Social Media Postings,” was published online in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.