What to do for Social Media Employment Screening

There are benefits and risks associated with social media employment screening. As part of your organisation’s background check process, employers can check candidates’ social media accounts during the hiring process. Before deciding whether to conduct these social media checks, consider the do’s and don'ts.

Boost your hiring or job-seeking journey with insightful, ethical social media searches.

What is a Social Media Employment Screening Check?

Social media searches are when employers review an applicant’s social media profile before, during and after interviewing them. These background checks often reveal information that’s difficult to uncover through traditional screening checks such as employment history checks, right to work, and DBS checks.

It’s essentially a pre-employment screening check performed using available information through public social media platforms. That being said, if they are carried out with no regard for compliance standards, a social media background check can be illegal.

Can employers check social media before hiring? Yes, they can, but they have to do so in a legal and controlled manner. They must take great care to ensure any information they uncover does not come back to bite them.

Why Social Media Background Checks are Important

There are several social media background check pros and cons, but the most common reasons for conducting these checks are as follows:

  • They can reveal more information about a candidate than is uncovered during a traditional job interview.
  • A candidate’s social media profile can support (or call into question) their academic achievements and qualifications.
  • They are often customisable, meaning your background check agency can screen candidates based on your chosen criteria of interest.
  • Publicly available information is obtained through controlled and measured processes.
  • You can make positive, informed decisions about candidates and learn more about them. For example, their personality, passions and culture may align well with the job and the company as a whole.
  • You can learn more about a candidate’s skills and competencies, which can support their application.
  • They can reveal incriminating, unsavoury or misleading information about a candidate, which contradicts what they may have said in a job interview.

The key takeaway here is that social media screening for employment is reasonable to include as part of a background check process. However, you should be aware of the risks associated with them, and be fully aware of what to do (and what not to do).

So that begs the question, how and when should social media checks be conducted?

Do’s and Don'ts of Social Media Checks

If you decide to run social media background checks - on a client’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram account etc. - you should follow the below guidelines. There are some steps you should take, and others you should not.

Do:

Be consistent
Make sure you check everyone - or nobody at all - when hiring for a job. Ensure the guidelines are consistent; either everyone is screened at a particular level, or nobody is.

Look at publicly available pages only.
You should only look at pages that are visible to everyone. Under no circumstances should you ask for the applicant’s social media password.

Ensure you give your background check agency specific guidelines to follow.
If you outsource your pre-employment screening checks to an agency - like Eurocom CI - tell them what you want to know, and what you don’t. Clear guidance goes a long way.

Look for outliers.
Use the social media screening process to find things that stick out as either being problematic or encouraging.

Don’t:

Conduct screening right at the beginning.
Don’t carry out these background checks until you’re close to making a final hiring decision. Waiting until after interviews makes it difficult for candidates to claim their Facebook content was a reason for not being hired.

Involve the hiring manager.
Leave the background screening process to HR professionals or your outsourced third party agency.

Ask for their social media password information.
This is a massive breach of GDPR and could open you up to legal proceedings. Avoid this at all costs.

Don’t cherry-pick who you screen.
You can’t carry background checks on people on an ad-hoc basis. For example, if you’ve shortlisted candidates and decide instinctively to check one of their social media profiles because you got a bad vibe from them. As said earlier, be consistent.

If keeping background checks consistent and compliant is your priority, you may be wondering whether to try this alone. Alternatively, for best results, consider speaking to a background check specialist.

Flexible, Bespoke Background Screening Services

Here at Eurocom CI, we conduct a wide range of pre-employment background checks. This ranges from DBS and AML checks through to credit checks, employment history and many more. 

We help organisations make smarter hiring decisions and stay compliant with their respective standards, with cohesive, structured background check processes and systems tailored specifically to your company size and turnover.

To find out more, speak to us today.

Are you ready to go beyond the interview?
Boost your hiring or job-seeking journey with insightful, ethical social media searches.