Social media can be a powerful tool to communicate, share information and connect with others. But it can also be used in your hiring process. Social media background checks can be used to help vet candidates and make sure they’re the right fit for your company.
Checking a candidate’s digital footprint is becoming more common. Seventy-one percent of hiring leaders think that social media is an effective screening tool for job candidates, according to a survey from The Harris Poll. For those who do use these background screenings, 55% have found content online that has caused them not to hire the applicant.
Conducting a social media screening can help you avoid hiring someone just to find out they’re not a good fit.
What is a social media background screening?
Social media background checks consist of scanning the content
job candidates post or interact with online before hiring a potential candidate to ensure they are a good fit for the position. Social screening tools use AI technology to check a person’s online presence for several years on major platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.
These background checks can be a quick scan of a candidate’s presence on major social platforms or a more thorough investigation into their digital activity, such as blogs and comment sections.
Think of it like a digital background check – just like a regular one, you’re screening for any potential red flags, such as:
- Racist, sexist or otherwise bigoted content
- Unlawful activity (i.e., drug use or underage drinking)
- Sexually explicit content, and
- Aggressive or violent behavior such as trolling.
Who should conduct the screening?
Although you may want to simply Google a candidate’s name after an interview, this can be risky because Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rules still apply.
An in-depth look at a candidate’s social accounts may give you information about the candidate that can impact hiring, whether intentional or unintentional, and open your company up for lawsuits.
Many tools and organizations can conduct social media background checks for you, eliminating legal risks and freeing up time for hiring managers. Ensure the third-party screening agency you use complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and EEOC guidance.
If you conduct the background screening internally, it may be a good idea to talk to a legal team or educate yourself on what is and isn’t allowed to mitigate risk and avoid bias.
What are the benefits of running a social media background check?
An in-depth look at what someone posts online can tell you a lot about who they are as a person and who they will be as an employee.
There are many benefits to looking into how someone presents themself online, including:
- Ensuring they will be a good culture fit
- Verifying information on an applicant’s resume
- Eliminating the need to talk to personal or professional references
- Decreasing the possibility of turnover or disciplinary action, and
- Mitigating risks to the company’s reputation.
Best practices for conducting a background check
The procedure for your social media background screening will depend on many factors, such as the position being hired for, who is conducting the screening and how in-depth the screening will be. However, there are a few general best practices to follow when conducting a social media check:
- Conduct thorough checks for employees in public-facing or management positions
- Get written consent from the candidate beforehand
- Create policies around social media screenings, such as employment being contingent on a successful background check of social platforms, and
- Document findings if concerning information is discovered and give the candidate pre-adverse action notice to clear up any misunderstandings.