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Can a Person’s Facebook Profile Predict Job Performance?

Last week, several mainstream media networks reported a new research finding about Facebook --- it can predict job candidates’ performance at work. What is this study about?  

The study recruited three raters (1 professor + 2 students) to evaluate the Facebook profiles of 56 college students with jobs. Six months later, these raters’ reports were compared with the employee evaluations conducted by the actual supervisors. The study found a strong correlation between those two sets of evaluations in “conscientiousness,” “agreeability” and “intellectual curiosity.”

In addition, profiles of “students who traveled, had more friends, and showed a wide range of hobbies and interests” received more favorable evaluations. Raters did not rate against students who posted partying pictures. Instead, raters perceived students with partying photos as “extroverted and friendly.”

I think this is an interesting study even though I have some concerns about the research design and the generalizability issue of the study. My question is can we draw a conclusion that Facebook profiles can predict job performance? The relationship exists when Facebook profiles are correlated with Facebook users’ personality and then when certain personality traits are correlated with job performance, as suggested by Dr. Don Kluemper (the principle investigator of this project at Northern Illinois University). It seems to me that certain “personality traits” are the true indicators of job performance. Facebook just provides a platform for job candidates to “show case” their true personality.

To think deeper, what do those research findings mean to HR managers and job seekers?

For HR managers, would it be better to just ask candidates to complete a personality test/assessment rather than checking their Facebook profiles? First of all, not everyone use Facebook or make their Facebook profiles public. Second, companies are taking a risk of screening candidates with their Facebook profiles because of the rich demographic information revealed on Facebook. If personality test and Facebook profile can yield similar results, why bother to take the risk?

For job seekers, it is important to know the job search tactics on social media. One must understand the mechanism of social media and use it for his/her advantage. What do you think?

References: 

The Wall Street Journal Video
 

The Fox News Video
 

Comments

  1. I find this post to be really interesting because it states a lot of information that is opposite of what I've been told in a lot of my other classes. A lot of the time, as a student looking for professional jobs, I'm told to be careful of the posts, pictures and tags that I'm involved in on social media websites but this post makes it seem like being too careful may take away from what recruiters think of me. If I limit my profile to the extremes of which most of my professors have suggested, all of my personality would be taken away from my page. Even though my Facebook profile is set to high privacy settings, and I rarely go on it anyways, it's nice to know that pictures of my socializing won't be taken as a crazy, partying college student but advantageous, extroverted and friendly. It's also nice to know that my pictures of all my travels will be looked at as a positive aspect as opposed to trying to hide the fact that I like to spend time traveling and not staying put.
    As for HR and their use of Facebook, I think if recruiters were to look at profiles in a manner that looks for positive qualities in their applicants then it could definitely be useful, but all too often social media websites like Facebook and Twitter are used to find bad PR on people that could put them at a disadvantage in the hiring field.

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    Replies
    1. I agree with you, Maxine. I actually don't recommend students or job seekers to set a social media profile private or at least not completely private. I believe students or job seekers need to show case what they can do and their true personality in some way --- that will benefit both of the job seekers and employers. However, it is true that we need to be careful and strategic about what we put on the internet, i.e. think about what the underline messages of the content are and how people “read” the content.

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  2. When it comes to Facebook, I feel as if it is a social media that it can’t and should not be an indicator of how well an employee does or could potentially do a job. Nowadays as social media websites are thriving and helping companies connect to all of their customers across the web it is definitely important for employees to know how to use sites such as Facebook. But should we as future job seekers be comfortable with our future bosses looking at our Facebooks to determine what type of worker we could be? I think that there is no direct correlation between what someone posts on his or her Facebook and job performance. I just think that employers should stick to personality tests because looking at a person’s Facebook could get too personal and it is just not appropriate in my point of view. I think that it is enough for an employee to show their skills during the workday as opposed to using Facebook to advance in the business world.

    - Joanna Weinberg
    NSD 314 Spring '13

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  3. Today, if you were to go up to anyone of college age and randomly ask them if they have a Facebook, chances are that they would respond with a yes. The reality is that Facebook has become a large form of social media in which people not only network with one another, but display certain personality traits that they have. In that case, I understand where somebody would get the idea to correlate a person's characteristics shown on their Facebook page with how well they can perform their job, however, I do not agree with it. Facebook is not a completely accurate way to judge a person and their personality. Not everyone who has a Facebook puts all the information about what type of person they are on their page. This could be problematic, because someone who is hardworking and intelligent could be denied a job just because they didn't show that they had these certain traits through their profile. It also isn't fair to those who don't have a Facebook at all. In my opinion, it is a personal choice whether one wants to partake in this form of social media, and if a person is hired over another because the employer had access to his/her Facebook, then it is very unfair to the one who didn't have one. I feel that is it definitely better for HR managers to do some form of personality test in an interview rather than going through Facebook. I think that it is a much more realistic and accurate method.

    Danielle Marino
    NSD 314

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