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These days, when managers attempt to staff a position with a strong social element, they sometimes round out their assessment of an applicant’s cover letter, resume, and interview with a quick review of his or her public social media profiles.

Of course doing this can open managers to host of thorny problems, including accusations of hiring bias, so take this step only if you’re prepared to accept those risks. And of course, a responsible review will include only publically available information on these profiles. It’s never acceptable to ask a candidate to hand over password access to any online account. And hopefully it goes without saying that a social media review should play only a minor role in the decision making process.

All of this being said, a quick review of a candidate’s Facebook page can reveal some promising traits and red flags that might otherwise remain hidden. Here are a few specific items to look for.

Communication Skill

Can your candidate communicate in an intelligent, articulate way? Do her posts reflect clear thinking and correct grammar? Can she use written language to express a well formed thought, share a joke, or make an observation? Too many misspellings and inarticulate nonsense may suggest a deeper issue.

Professionalism and Discretion

A candidate doesn’t have to post career-related information all the time, but does he at least understand what it means to present himself in a dignified and professional way? Can he discern what is and isn’t appropriate for a pubic audience? Does he know how to maintain a competent, mature and trustworthy public persona? A childish sense of humor may be part of his relationship with his brother, but he should know how to use the features of the site to control his privacy settings, and he should have the wisdom to know when this step is necessary.

Personable

Do your candidate’s interests and passions suggest that she’ll get along well with your current team? If she’s an animal lover, an extreme sports enthusiast, or an adventure traveler, what do her accomplishments and recreational activities say about her personality? Does she seem introverted or extroverted? Does she have strong political leanings? How do these traits line up with your established workplace culture?

Again, giving too much weight to a social media profile while making a hiring decision can cause more harm than good, and this is not a recommended move. But if you proceed with caution and judgment, a glance into a candidate’s online social life can help you get to know her before you decide to make a final offer. For more on what to include in your social media review—and what NOT to include—reach out the staffing experts at Tech Needs.

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