Show Us Your Home And We Might Hire You

by Etienne Besson on 20 March 2012

in Recruitment

Imagine that you applied for a job and were told that – as part of the standard hiring procedure – you had to invite the recruiter to your home.

Or even worse: you had to give them the key to your place, so they could drop by whenever they wanted, whether you’re at home or not.

Shocking, isn’t it?

For more and more people Facebook has become their online home where they can lock the door or keep it open. They can also share information and communicate only with friends and family, but also with acquaintances, co-workers or even total strangers. Just like I can choose to invite only my best friends to my place or anybody else I want.

Give Us Your Facebook Password

Last year the Maryland Department of Corrections asked job applicants to hand over their Facebook username and password. This is like giving them the key to your (online) home. Now they “only” ask candidates to click through their account during interviews while a recruiter is watching. And apparently more and more employers are adopting this practice in the US (Source: Article on

How Far Can This Go?

What’s the next step? Listen to a candidate’s voice mails and reading their emails, require employees to make audio recordings whenever they meet friends for dinner or a beer?

But regardless of the legal and moral implications, an important question is whether this kind of information is actually relevant for a hiring decision. And more specifically, does it actually help select the best matching candidate for the job?

Just like I don’t believe that the number of children I have or my political leanings are relevant for a hiring decision, I don’t think that knowing what I’m posting privately on my Facebook wall and what I’m talking about with my friends in confidential messages will really help make an objective decision.

It’s Not All Bad

On the other hand, this practice has one big advantage because you make it clear from the beginning that paranoia and distrust are part of your company culture. And you also show that you don’t see your employees as trustworthy and responsible adults. This way things are clear right away.

When email was first introduced to the workplace about 20 years ago some companies offered trainings about how to use it. This included how to greet recipients, who to include in cc:’s and so on. Nowadays new employees are often given a password and that’s it.

Suggestions For Employers

  • Stop seeing threats everywhere.
  • Treat your employees like adults and trust them.
  • Train your staff on how to communicate and represent your company. Both online and offline.

What do you think? Is Facebook such a treat that it justifies these practices? Better to be safe than sorry?

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