Recruiters Beware: Facebook Information May Not Predict Future Performance
[Editor’s Note: We are pleased to welcome Chad H. Van Iddekinge who collaborated with Stephen E. Lanivich, Philip L. Roth, and Elliott Junco on their article “Social Media for Selection? Validity and Adverse Impact Potential of a Facebook-Based Assessment“ from Journal of Management.]
Many organizations are using the Internet to search for information about job applicants. This includes information from social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. One reason for this may the allure of the type of information Facebook and other social media platforms provide. The problem is that most organizations are using social media to screen applicants without knowing whether such information actually helps them hire better people.
Chad Van Iddekinge, a professor in the business school at Florida State University, and colleagues Steven Lanivich, Philip Roth, and Elliott Junco, were interested in whether Facebook information would help organizations predict future job performance or turnover. They had recruiters and hiring managers evaluate Facebook pages of college students who were near graduation and searching for jobs. Several months later, the researchers contacted students’ job supervisors, who provided job performance evaluations.
The researchers found that recruiter and hiring manager ratings of Facebook did not correlate with job performance or with whether students were still in or had left their initial job. Additionally, some of the Facebook ratings differed by demographic group. Specifically, female students were rated higher than male students, and White students were rated higher than African-American and Hispanic students.
The findings of this study (which will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Management) suggest organizations should exercise caution when using social media information such as Facebook to screen job applicants. Facebook information may not distinguish high performing applicants from lower performing applicants. It also may influence whether applicants from certain demographic groups are selected. Finally, Facebook and other social media expose decision makers to a variety of other personal information that equal employment law discourages or prohibits companies from considering in employment decisions, such as information about applicants’ religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and disability status.
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Chad H. Van Iddekinge is a Synovus Research Associate and Associate Professor of Management at the Florida State University College of Business. His research focuses on how organizations make staffing decisions and how those decisions affect job applicants and the quality and diversity of a firm’s workforce. He also directs The Department of Management’s doctoral programs in OBHR and Strategic Management.
Stephen E. Lanivich is an Assistant Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship at Old Dominion University. His research interests include the entrepreneurial mindset and cognitions, entrepreneurs’ perceptions of resources, and opportunity recognition and fit. Before entering academia, Dr. Lanivich successfully started and managed three different entrepreneurial ventures. He currently feeds his entrepreneurial spirit through outreach to the ODU community. Dr. Lanivich is co-creator of a grant-funded program to provide advisory resources to economically displaced nascent entrepreneurs in the Hampton Roads area.
Philip L. Roth teaches courses in the area of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management at the College of Business and Behavioral Science at Clemson University, South Carolina. He is a fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and a member of the Academy of Management. He is past chair of the Research Methods Division of the Academy of Management.
Elliott Junco is a Graduate Assistant Professional at Florida State University. His areas of interest include leadership, organizational behavior, and employee retribution to perceived injustice.