Interviews Should Not Invade Privacy

While catching up on news yesterday, I saw this article: Job Seekers’ Facebook Passwords Asked For During U.S. Interviews.  This stinks of a lack of trust in employees and cannot lead to a healthy relationship.

Lack of Trust on the Employer’s Side

Having worked for a company where they were leery of some of their employees being active in social networks, I can tell you firsthand that even if you were to comply with the interview and got hired on, you’d have a lot of trust issues throughout your time there.  For me, even though I wasn’t dealing with social networking stuff on the clock, I still felt like my employer had their own agenda by asking me to avoid social networks.  (And to this day, I am very thankful for a dear friend of mine who stayed persistent and talked me out of the insanity of it all.)

“Research”ing Candidates

I can understand companies trying to “research” potential candidates by looking at their Facebook profiles.  I’ll admit that, as an interviewer, I’ve “researched” potential candidates by looking up their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles.  But at the same time, if they’re hard to find or locked down due to privacy, I wouldn’t even consider asking someone for their credentials – that’s truly an invasion of privacy.  Typically, you need a court order to get some of that information!

The other thing I noticed in the article is that the interviewer was looking up his Facebook profile during the interview.  That is not the appropriate time to do research on the candidates.  You would normally want to go into the interview with the data ahead of time. As a common motto goes – “Be prepared.”

The way I see it, it’s one thing for interviewers to do their own independent research.  It’s something different for HR to seek approval from candidates for background checks.  Did you see what I said?  “seek approval” – as in formal background checks need to be approved.  Don’t expect to get a person’s credentials to a private account.  Do the research the right way without making this an invasive process.

“Friend”ing HR People

Another practice they mention in the article is that companies will ask employees to “friend” their HR people.  Again, this is a company’s way of invading/trying to control an employee’s personal life.  Unless the person is in a position to manage the company’s social media – and in which case they should have separate accounts for that – there’s really no reason why a company should have this directive in place.    This is another sign of a company not trusting their employees.

But… I’m an Employer! It’s My Right!

Sorry, employers.  As a fellow business owner, I understand how you want to protect your business’s reputation out there.  But at the same time, you’ve got to trust your employees to do their jobs and let them have a life outside of your company.  It’s part of why you hire them – you see the candidate as capable of doing the job and trust that they’ll do the right thing.  And if you’ve been burned by employees too many times, then you need to revisit your candidate screening process so that you don’t keep getting burned.

If You’re Interviewing with a Company…

Keep in mind that you need to look out for yourself.  If employers are trying to invade your privacy in the interview process, can you imagine what they’d do to their own employees?  Is that really an environment you want to work in?  I understand that the market out there can be rough, but at what point is it okay to prostitute your privacy?

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