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Have a situation that is certainly not new, but new to me. I'm hiring for an entry-level type position in my small business. One of the applicants that I'm most interested in apparently has a My Space page, so I'm told by my Executive Team that is working with me in making this hire. I don't know what's on the thing, and frankly I don't know if I should care or not. How much if any credence should be placed on info on a "public" web page such as this. I personally think very little to none. The way I look at it, no ones ever lied on the internet before, right? (I mean that all pun intended)
Any thoughts?

RichRuh's picture

It's information about the candidate- why pass up that opportunity?

It was a shock the first time a recruiter Googled me- but in today's world I expect it.

Funny story- we once had a college student interview with us. We very easily found his web site. Right on the home page we found the photos from his most recent frat party- complete with frontal nudity. The hiring manager and I laughed really hard, then threw his resume in the trash.

aspiringceo's picture

I wont argue the ethics of doing this but it is becoming more and more standard practice. I read last week of a young graduate in Ireland who did an interview with one of the major banks, during the course of the interview he mentioned that he enjoyed meeting with friends etc" and the interviewer said back to him "yes, thats apparent from your bebo site".... His beebo (similar to my space) showed various pictures of him and his friends drunk and "misbehaving. Needless to say he didnt get the job.

Edmund

theballdredge's picture

I dont really see how there would be an ethical problem about googling or otherwise using the internet to investigate the applicant. They chose to put that information in the public space, and as such should expect that the public will have access. Even some private information, like what shows up on a background check, is available to you legally.

If it were something libelous or something someone else said that they are attempting to resolve I would expect them to be able to explain that and take such information into consideration.

Otherwise if you find something inappropriate posted publicly...you just found out some new information about their character didnt you? Who is to say they wouldnt do something similar with confidential information? We all have embarrasing moments, do things we shouldnt, get a little tipsier with friends than we should. If you find a candidate that [i]brags[/i] about such activities, I believe that implies at best a naviete about the rest of the world, and at worst some serious boundary issues. Both of these are something to consider heavily when discussing the fit of a potential candidate.

I believe Mark covered this in one of the interview podcasts, and please correct me if I am wrong. The general idea is that if you are going to be spending a pile of money on this person through training and salary and benefits and whatnot, you darn sure better know as much about them as you possibly can so that you can make a decision that is as informed as possible.

bflynn's picture

In short, I do not believe the hiring manager should research a person's background this way. It should be left as a function of HR who can research and disclose appropriate pieces of information to the manager.

Otherwise, you will discover things and will intuitively use them in making your decision. Your decision may be flawed because it represents your personal biased view of the person and not necessarily the decision that is in the best interest of the company. You will have allowed your personal feelings to corrupt your effectiveness.

Additionally, there are legal concerns in play. EEOC law forbids US companies from using age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion and a few other things as criteria in a job decision. If you discover one of these by performing outside research, you may have no defense against an EEOC suit, even if what you learned had no bearing at all on the decision.

Of course there are things you should know about. You just need someone else to filter out things that you shouldn't know.

Brian

Mark's picture

All-

Four thoughts.

1. Looking at someone's MySpace page is not only completely ethical, NOT looking at information freely available and with low acquisition costs (time) in the public space would be an ethical VIOLATION of the manager's responsibility to do due diligence.

The danger of hiring is not false negatives, it is false positives. Mind your public space, folks.

AGain: it's unethical NOT to look.

2. I wouldn't let HR do this. HR rarely knows anything substantive about the manager or the team or the role. Someone else checking it - as opposed to the decision maker - is an exercise in attenuation that weakens the effort ... for anyone that is of interest. If you must delegate, give it to a direct to do and report on.

3. Don't do it for EVERYONE... only for those whom you haven't ruled out yet.

4. If someone put drunk pictures of themselves up on MySpace, I'd not hire them, but not because they get drunk. I did that quite well a few times. But I'd not hire them due to lack of intellect. A galactic lack (and thus the etymology!)

Mark

terrih's picture

I shudder to think of a future potential employer Googling my name.

See, there's a woman in California with the same name as me who wrote a book about... erm... naughty bits. :shock:

I found this out a couple years ago when Googling my own name just for grins.

Google didn't exist yet the last time I had a job interview! (showing my age)

AManagerTool's picture

I never got the whole MySpace thing. Why would anyone do that? Galactically (I love that word Mark) stupid IMHO. If you were to use it to sell yourself, I can see it but to post information about you at your worst....IDIOT!

pmoriarty's picture

[quote="terrih"]I shudder to think of a future potential employer Googling my name.

See, there's a woman in California with the same name as me who wrote a book about... erm... naughty bits. :shock:

I found this out a couple years ago when Googling my own name just for grins.

Google didn't exist yet the last time I had a job interview! (showing my age)[/quote]

In that case, I'd make sure to have an innocuous public web page about myself that made a point of saying, "I'm [b]not[/b] that terrih!"

terrih's picture

Yes, that's a possibility...

I do have a blog where I say that on the About Me page; however, the blog isn't about my job or work in any way.

tomw's picture

[quote="AManagerTool"]I never got the whole MySpace thing. Why would anyone do that? Galactically (I love that word Mark) stupid IMHO. If you were to use it to sell yourself, I can see it but to post information about you at your worst....IDIOT![/quote]

I think some people have not yet learned the value of discretion and modesty. They also may not yet see themselves as "potential professionals." At that point in life, they are just thinking "woo hoo, party!!!"

stewartlogan's picture

It's an interesting dilemna. I was taught at a young age that what you do in private should remain in private, and that what you do in public you should expect it to be on the front page of the newspaper - in other words, don't do something stupid in public.

I never have (to my knowledge), and my wife still can't understand why I don't like to be photographed with a drink in my hand, or why I dislike going out and "getting wasted" with a group of friends.

I can't even consider why you would want to post pictures of yourself being stupid to the world. Galactically stupid, indeed.

thaGUma's picture

tg4dk (and AManagerTool) - MySpace and the like are here to stay. There is a fundamental shift in acceptable social behaviour that us oldies are having to get used to. Think back to when I started and I drew construciton drawings in ink on velum and scratched out mistakes with a rasor blade. Life has changed as good Managers our goals are the same but there are a few revisions to the best route to achive them.

Google everyone and everything. I use it constantly. Do not google my name - I do NOT live in the bahamas.
Chris.

jhack's picture

This month's issue of the Harvard Business Review's Case Study is about googling prospective employees. While not perfect for this situation, it's good food for thought nonetheless:

www.hbr.com, then click on the HBR Case Study, "We Googled You"

thaGUma's picture

I agree, Google is my homepage and if I get a call from someone I don't know, they and their company are Googled before my secretary puts them through.
And
1. apologies for horrendous spelling on previous message - hard day.
2. Google - what a site. Overtakes all others and becomes a verb. Not bad work.

Chris

bflynn's picture

[quote="donnachie"]Google everyone and everything. I use it constantly. Do not google my name - I do NOT live in the bahamas.
Chris.[/quote]

Chris, I think this is one of dangers of doing this kind of research. Without you saying anything, I would have thought that just maybe you were involved in some kind of offshore financing scheme. False facts would become part of my image of you.

In a way, I have the opposite problem. There are so many people with my name that it is fairly difficult for any one of us to stand out. There's a New Age speaker, a football player, a religious musician, a movie digital effect artist and a physicist, among others. None are me.

Brian

Mark's picture

I thyink the issue of doing this POORLY is completely different from whether one should or should not.

If one should, one should well. If one errs should still stands.

Mark