Checking out a potential employee on social media – is it moral?

When you’re recruiting, it’s important to test your future colleague. Have they the experience/qualifications/culture to thrive with you and your team?

Social media has been a force for good in our personal and professional lives, but is it moral to investigate a future hire on these social profiles? In recent years, it has become an accepted practice – especially for senior hires – to view previous posts on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, et al to understand the kind of person that could be hired. Is there anything contentious on their posts? Something in the past that could come back to haunt and cause damage to your brand?

We’re thinking negatively here, however, you can also find some really positive points here too that underlines the applicant’s credentials. Maybe they do a lot for charity or a good cause?

Naturally and it goes without saying, you shouldn’t be looking at the applicant’s social media to base the totality of your hiring decision and you should never discriminate against a hire because of their social media. Looking at social media is a ‘checks and balances’ exercise to complement your comprehensive and professional interviews with the talent. It’s always a good idea to ask someone not directly involved in the hiring process, but aware of the job being advertised, to check social media and for any red lights.

In the main, you’ll find many candidates conscious and aware that social media is attached to their personal brand. They won’t write or get involved in anything contentious online that could come back to bite them in the future. The ‘bad eggs’ are few and far between and they’ll stick out like a sore thumb.

So one story from 4 years ago…..

A candidate had received a job offer with one of our best clients through our introduction. The offer letter was sent out and the candidate went dark on us – no contact for about a week and the employer wanted an answer.  We were genuinely worried about this lady as she had been so keen on the job throughout the interviews and also when we delivered the offer to her.

We checked social media and saw she was out and about putting photos on Facebook. So a colleague called her from their work mobile which she answered and immediately hung up. We then received a text saying she had been in a car crash and had been unconscious for the last 4 days.

When we challenged this, replying that she had posted photos of a night out with friends two days ago, she lost her temper, hung up and proceeded to email our client saying she was turning the job down and it was our fault for pressuring her.

Were we wrong here trying to work in the best interests of everyone (particularly the employer in this case) to get this situation resolved?

Is social media there as assistance to ensure people are being genuine and represent themselves the right way or does it only belong to that individual?

At MRK Associates, we’re here to help you recruit the talent to build your business. You can read more advice here.

Roland Seddon, Managing Director, MRK Associates.

MRK Associates is a recruitment and career advisory company specialising in three distinct areas of professional employment – finance/accountancy jobs and revenue management/yield jobs. Our main geographical focus is in the Northern Home Counties area (Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire and Bedfordshire) where we provide a personal, knowledgeable and professional service within these markets.

For more information, please telephone 01442 894555 or email:


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