How To Run a Social Media Background Check

How To Run a Social Media Background Check

Social media has become a tool for conducting background checks on potential candidates. Hiring managers often run a background check to get a better insight into a candidate’s lifestyle and personality. The information on social media reflects a candidate’s demeanor and real character. A candidate’s response to trending headlines can help recruiters determine his opinion about humanity, their hidden talents, interest, hobbies, and trivial skills. Social media is an incredible tool to assess what a candidate can bring to the table  A hiring manager can screen a candidate by going through the candidate’s account on different social media platforms. This includes Instagram,  Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


What Is A Social Media Background Check?

A social media background check is the process of reviewing a prospective candidate’s social media pages to learn about the candidate. It is simply assessing the potential of a candidate using information the candidate makes available on different social media platforms. It is usually carried out during the end of the recruitment process and can reveal information that is not available on a mere resume or cover letter. While there are numerous benefits to running a background screening, there are also legal risks associated with it. So the big question is if the information you intend to get from a candidate’s social media platform is worth the risk of prosecution. A candidate who feels he has been wrongfully rejected can decide to sue you for using the information you got on their social media page wrongly. There are factors called protected characteristics, that can not be considered while hiring a candidate. These factors have been mapped out to avoid indiscriminate hiring. Some of these factors include Nationality, medical history, religion, race, and age. If for any reason the information you get on a candidate’s social media page clouds your judgment and you make a decision based on any of the above, you will end up putting yourself in serious jeopardy.


Why Conduct a Social Media Background Check?

A social media background check can present you with details that ordinarily will not be available through conventional interviews. While resume and interviews will give you knowledge of a candidate on a professional level, social media will give you knowledge of the candidate on a personal level. Here are some of the benefits of social media background checks:

Avoiding candidates with negative energy

The toxicity in the speech and behavior of one employee can ruin the synergy of the workforce entirely. Some individuals are so broken inside that it starts to rub off on others. Since an organization needs the collaborative work of everyone to run smoothly, such an attitude can ruin the energy of other workers and thus break the chain of collectivity.

Personality and cultural fit

Companies usually carry out personality tests on prospective candidates either by test or interview. A fully prepared candidate can always lie his way through a behavioral interview. On the other hand for the personality test,  with frequent practice, a candidate can beat the system to its game. But a person’s life over the years can never be a lie. As the use of social media keeps escalating, people practically live their life online. A good look through a candidate’s posts and write up’s over the years can give you a view of who he truly is.

Skills, passion, and hobby

The social media background check does not always have to be about negative things, you can search for a candidate’s hidden skills, talents passion, and hobby. For instance, you might be going through a candidate’s profile and realize that he is good at content writing, graphic designs, sculpting, painting, or even sports. It could even be that the job requires a lot of traveling and you stumble upon a candidate that is adventurous, and probably has several pictures from different locations in the world.

How To Conduct a Social Media Background Check

Use Google

It is often said that Google is your best friend. Any information that is not readily on Google is not permissible for you to know. It’s either top secret or confidential. It is much better not to know it than get yourself into trouble. When searching for a candidate’s social media accounts,  simply type in the candidate’s name into Google and the rest is history. Google will bring out anything related to that name, endeavor to be specific to narrow your search.

Consistency is the key

If you have made up your mind to conduct a social media background check, do it for every candidate. This will save you the trouble of unconscious bias. Probably can candidate’s presence or energy does not sit right with you, and you decide to check out that particular candidate. You are on your way to serious legal prosecution.

Conduct the background check towards the end of the hiring process

This is advised to avoid being sued by a candidate who feels he was indiscriminately dismissed because the hiring manager went through his profile. Before conducting the background check, you must have finished going through resumes and conducting interviews for all candidates. This will also save you a lot of stress and time. Imagine running a background check for over a thousand applicants. But if you have eliminated a good number of candidates through interviews or other recruitment processes, then it will be a lot easier to run a background check for the rest.

The direct recruiting supervisor should not partake in this screening

The way the human mind functions can not be helped. Whether you like it or not, you are prone to be unconsciously biased. To avoid this, simply give the task to some other human resource personnel who is not directly involved in the recruitment process.


Assess only public profiles

Please go through only what the candidate has made available on his profile. Do not dive deep into the person’s life or use means that are not legally right to get this information. Asking a candidate for his password is legally prohibited.  Do not let your curiosity land you in trouble.  Remember Curiosity kills the cat.

Outsource the task

As it has been said severally, a social media background check is a two-way lane. It is a very tricky business. To save yourself the drama of the negativity that will come from it, kindly outsource it to companies that are well versed with the law. These companies have a comprehensive understanding of what the law says that can and cannot be done. They also have comprehensive tools that make this search more efficient.  If you decide to outsource the background check to an external company, also give them guidelines of the information you want them to look for.

Inform the employee

It is clearly stated in the law that every employer must inform candidates of any background check that is being conducted on them. It will not hurt to inform the candidate that a social media background check will be carried out as part of the recruitment process.

Look for only outliers

When you are conducting a social media background check, look for things that stand out exceptionally. You do not want to dismiss a candidate just because of one picture of him drinking in a bar at night or a video of him in a fight. There might have been circumstances that built up to that event that might be unknown to you. It does not immediately make the person a bad person. But if you notice a consistent bad behavior that you feel might influence other employees, you can pick it out and make your decision based on that.

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