Social media can help you interview

The media continues to warn students and recent college grads that HR professionals are out there looking for reasons not to hire them based off of incriminating Facebook pictures or controversial tweets. Yes, every so often, you’ll probably find out that a candidate isn’t fit to work for your company based on those things, but more than likely what you’ll find from their social media accounts will only confirm that they’re a candidate you want to take seriously.

If they’re smart, most of the candidates you’re looking at will only make certain things on their Facebook visible to you, the random outsider. Usually you’ll be able to view their education, experience, and at least one of their profile pictures. As for Twitter, they may be public or private, depending on the nature of the person.

Let’s face it, college students and recent grads don’t have personalized pens or billboards to promote themselves, so you may have to use these social media accounts to learn more about them as people. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Ignore the dreaded red cup

Ah, yes, the red Solo cup, the Scarlet Letter of a candidate’s Facebook pictures for many companies, schools, and parents. That silly red cup creates more invalid assumptions than the high school rumor mill, yet adults just can’t get over believing their own perception of what that red cup is capable of.

Guess what? The odds that your candidate is a party animal and will be nothing but trouble for your company are very, very, very small. If anything, take notice of what the person is wearing, what the photo album or caption says, and when it was taken. That will tell you a whole lot more about the situation and the candidate you’re spying on than that little red cup ever will.

Twitter: Quality, not quantity

You can learn a whole lot about your candidate based on their Twitter feed, but you should focus more on quality than quantity in this area. For example, if you see that the candidate seems to tweet a lot without saying anything interesting, they may not have the type of personality you’re looking for. Likewise, if a candidate tweets less but posts articles or shares thoughtful insights or opinions, you may want to take that into consideration. The ultimate find on Twitter is the candidate with a substantial amount of followers who tweets well-articulated thoughts and opinions or interesting articles.

The bottom line

The bottom line when it comes to job candidates and social media is that you should not research their accounts for the purpose of finding reasons not to hire them, but rather for reasons why you should hire them. A candidate with carefully maintained social media accounts who shares thoughtful articles or opinions shows confidence and intellect, and don’t be afraid to take notice of that. Likewise, a candidate who displays profanity, inappropriate images or comments, or a general lack of common sense on their accounts might not be worth the gamble.

July 21, 2011