Hello fellow Career Tools forum members,

I read an online article from the Silicon Valey/San Jose Business Journal posted on March 6, 2012 that mentioned colleger recruiters and some hiring recruiters asking applicants to login to their Facebook accounts so they may research their posts and friends' posts. This request from recruiters sounds extreme though. The article even indicated that in some cases the applicant was asked for their password. Does anyone have a thought about that?

I am not interviewing for any position right now but wonder if someone out there has encountered this type of request. I would have a problem disclosing my password to an interviewer. To me it is similar to the fact I would be willing to disclose my home address to a potential employer but would not consider giving them the keys to my house.

I am a firm believer in being very careful of any posts I  make and being aware of how I am connected to others that may have a non-professional presence on a social networking site. A recruiter asking an applicant to login and present their web profile sounds like the recruiter wants the applicant to do their research for them.

Richard Woodruff

afmoffa's picture

An employer who requires that level of "due diligence" is an employer with no sense of boundaries or decorum. Ditto for recruiters. I'd walk. 

mattpalmer's picture

...  and rhyme with "duck off".  While I don't believe that there is a hard, absolute line between "professional" and "personal", which can never be crossed, I do believe that there's a principle involved somewhat akin to "probable cause", that an employer shouldn't be prying around in your personal life just for the hell of it -- although, conversely, you shouldn't give them any reason to want to do so.  This particular request, which I've heard about several times anecdotally (but have never actually heard happening first-hand), is *way* into the realm of "fishing expedition".

jocadl's picture

I don't use this term lightly at all, but in this case, I'd say it: it's unethical. Whether personal or professional, an identity is an identity. And if any identity is verified by a password, then this should not be compromised. If sharing passwords was common behaviour, most regular information security measures would be taken ad absurdum.

To me, asking for a password is clearly a "question for which you aren't entitled to an answer". (I may be mis-quoting here).


nze5364's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

I'd be interested to hear Mark's take on this as he recommends that you always answer questions whether you think them ethical or not as the purpose of a job interview is to get an offer and nothing else matters. You can always turn down the offer if you don't like the way the firm operates.
That said, I wouldn't want to work for them if that's what they do routinely as it makes me wonder where they'd re-draw the line of personal/private.

All the best


TomW's picture
Training Badge

I'd propose a trade: he can browse my Facebook account for as long as I can browse his Outlook PST.

jrosenau's picture

If you can find it on Google, it's fair game.  If you have your options for facebook set to be private, that I would say it is off-limits.   I think in this case, the biggest problem is that it's not just your information that is viewable.  It's everyone else's data that you've friended.  So, you providing your password is also allowing them to see other people's information that they might not want shared.  Also, you can't control what others post.  Family is family.  I may not always agree with what they post; but I'm not going to unfriend them.  It's just fraught with peril.  I wouldn't want to work for someone who asked me to do that.


jrosenau's picture

As if on cue, the AP posted this article today:


sbiggin's picture

Jrosenau brings up a good point. Providing your password to the interviewer or recruiter would give them access to information that your friends and family didn't intend to share with them. Further, I believe Facebook explicitly prohibits you from sharing your password just for this purpose: to protect the privacy of your 'friends'.

Now, you can say what you want to about what level of privacy someone should reasonably expect from a free website, but the Facebook password-sharing policy does exist for a reason.

Maybe an acceptable and somewhat accommodating response would be to offer to 'Friend' the recruiter and allow them to see your list of other Facebook friends so they could go about asking each of them permission to see their posts.


kjhbike's picture

I read this story earlier today and was wondering how I would handle the situation.  It didn't take me long to come up with my answer.  I would refuse politely and continue the interview knowing that I likely just failed in securing an offer.  Mark will tell us an interview is all about securing a job offer but I'm not willing to answer unethical or overly prying questions in an interview to secure a position with a company with which I have conflicting ethical boundaries.  Why strive for an offer I won't accept?  If you want to erode your soul faster than lightning, go work for a company that asks you to alter your ethics downward.

mattpalmer's picture

I suddenly wonder how these companies would react to my (entirely truthful) statement that I don't have a facebook account?  Nor do I have a twitter, linkedin, myspace, friendster, or an account with any other service which would be in any way remotely considered to be a social network.

Given the unimaginable lather that a lot companies seem to get into about employees "wasting time on facebook", I would have thought that hiring employees who didn't use any of those sorts of things would be immensely valuable, but I'm guessing the venn diagram of "onoes facebook time wasters!" and "I must see your facebook profile to ensure you're not a $BAD_PERSON" probably has a large degree of overlap.

jrosenau's picture

Friending the recruiter on Facebook was mentioned in the AP article.  I would think that's ok if you friend co-worker's on facebook.  But that is another point, I don't friend co-workers on Facebook.  I only use LinkedIn.  I would connect on LinkedIn but not on Facebook.  If that loses me the job, then so be it.


jhack's picture

and the news is spreading fast:

Good for them.  

John Hack

jrosenau's picture

 Thanks, John, for posting that.  Good to hear that Fb is standing up for its users.

I think between this dust-up and the Pinterest dust-up, the best advice for both companies and people is know the TOS (terms of service) of the sites you use.


fa0faa's picture

While this likely is not the case, but perhaps the recruiter is testing the job candidate.  If the candidate provides their password, this may reveal their lack of ethics and result in the candidate being quickly struck from the list of potential hires.  I certainly would not hire someone who was willing to provide me with their facebook password.  How could I trust them as an employee?