Interviewers Go To Social Media

social searchIn the hiring process, there are things employers aren’t permitted to ask, like whether you plan to have kids. Some employers turn to social media to learn more about job candidates.

Many of Don Kluemper’s management students at the University of Illinois at Chicago have had this experience: After going on a job interview, they sometimes receive “friend” requests from their interviewers.

It puts the students in a bind, he says. They fear that not accepting the request might hurt their job chances, but they also feel compelled to scrub their profiles before accepting.

“They didn’t know why they were being friended,” Kluemper says. “If it was some personal request or if the person was going to be screening their profile.”

In a job interview, there are some things that aren’t immediately apparent to the interviewer: a candidate’s religion, marital status or sexual orientation. Employers are not allowed to ask about those things, by law. Many employers check social media profiles of prospective hires online, but doing so is raising questions for both employers and job applicants.

“[The answer to] all of those questions that you shouldn’t ask in a job interview [are] readily available on a social networking website like Facebook,” Kluemper says. “So that creates the problem.”

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, now use social networking to recruit candidates, up from 34 percent six years ago. About a dozen states have banned employers from asking workers for their social media passwords, and Congress is considering several measures that would make that a national policy.

But as far as using information that a job seeker makes publicly available, the rules aren’t exactly clear. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has not issued specific rules governing social media.

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