What to Look out for in your Job Candidate’s Social Media

What to Look out for in your Job Candidate’s Social Media

Even though most job applicants know that human resource managers and employers look at their social media accounts during the candidate screening process, they don’t always act as if they know or care. Facebook and Twitter accounts often portray a very different side of candidates, one that doesn’t usually show itself in interviews.

Looking at social media accounts of potential hires can offer you a glimpse at what your candidate is really like as a person. It gives you the chance to pull back the curtain and see you candidate as they are when they think no one’s watching. Your seemingly mild-mannered candidate might become combative with other people online, posting some not-so-nice comments and directing mean-spirited tweets towards other people and even businesses.

So what should you be on the lookout for when browsing through a job candidate’s social media account? Here are some positive traits to embrace and a few red flags to make note of when you’re going through the hiring process.

Positive: Completed LinkedIn Profiles

While it’s good that a candidate has a polished Facebook or Twitter profile, the LinkedIn profile will be more telling for your needs. LinkedIn is like an interactive CV that gives the candidate time to elaborate on the work they did for certain companies and show off their skills by posting examples of their work.

LinkedIn is also a great place to see how active your candidate is in your industry. Look at the types of articles your candidates post and see who they’re connecting with.

When scrolling through a candidate’s LinkedIn profile, remember to look for:

  • Relevant job experience.
  • Examples of work including links to work on other sites.
  • Endorsements or recommendations from coworkers, employers or other connections.
  • Recent charity work.
  • Posted articles or any other activity on the site.

Of course with regards to profiles on other social media sites, do take stock of what is listed. If a profile looks like it was written by a 15-year-old, keep that in the back of your mind. Professionalism is necessary for all social media, even if it’s a personal account.

Positive: Culture fits

Your office environment has a certain culture that permeates throughout. Maybe you have a very relaxed environment with a very casual dress code, or perhaps you have a more formal and serious office. Whatever your personality or culture you believe your office has, it’s important that your job candidate fit in with this culture.

Through the candidate’s social media posts, you can get a feel for your candidate’s interests as well as any likes or dislikes. Look at the type of content friends leave on the candidate’s Facebook wall to get an idea for the people that your candidate likes to hang out with.

What you’re mostly looking for is a positive personality, one that matches your company’s tone. Look for anything that might hint that your candidate is angry or easily upset. If you know this department has a lot of comic book fans and your candidate expresses excitement for the upcoming superheroes movies, you can safely guess that your candidate will probably fit in well.


Negative: Employer bashing

Whether they told you at the interview or not, your potential candidates probably have a few grievances with their current companies. After all, if your candidates were so happy at work, they wouldn’t be searching for a job, right?

Social media, however, is not the place to be airing dirty laundry about work, and it’s no place to complain about a boss or coworker. It looks unprofessional, and it also reflects badly on the company. Some of your candidate’s followers and friends might be potential customers to your business. Whether the candidate’s complaints are valid or not, do you think friends and followers will want to do business with the company, knowing what they know or at least believing it?

A one-time offender has a moment of weakness. Multiple posts complaining about a company is telling.

Negative: Hints at illegal activity or any discrimination or defamatory statements

The last thing you want to do is hire someone that will potentially be arrested during the course of their employment with a company. Though it should be common sense not to, posting or tweeting about drug involvement or sharing racist views on social media is more common that you might think. Again, job candidates will say a lot when they think nobody’s really listening.

Photos can also be very telling here so make sure you scroll through your candidate’s most recent photos. Many candidates post photos without really looking at what might be sitting on a table or counter, but these are usually the objects that can get candidates in trouble.

Don’t forget to look for mentions of profanity or discriminatory language.

Positive: Shares thoughts and opinions respectfully

Ever since MySpace, people have been using social media to loudly proclaim their viewpoints and point out why everyone else is wrong.

If your candidates are passionate about certain topics, how are they expressing themselves? Do they pull from forums or rely on news outlets, experts and other industry insiders for information? When someone disagrees with an article that a candidate tweets, does the candidate angrily reply back or follow it up with something like, “Thanks, but I don’t agree”?

Remember, you shouldn’t be judging your candidates on their opinions, but rather how they express those opinions. A polite comment or a shared opinion piece from a respected news source should not raise alarm, assuming the opinion doesn’t advocate for violence or hate towards any specific group of people. You’ll enjoy working more with someone with respectfully different opinions that someone who is loud and obnoxious about your shared beliefs.


On paper, a candidate might seem perfect for your organisation, but when you see the candidate’s social media profiles, you might rethink everything about your recruitment process. Before you offer a job, browse through the candidate’s social media profile first and look for any red flags. If you don’t see any, then you can be reasonably assured that your candidate will success at your company.

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