Examining Applicant Reactions to the Use of Social Networking Websites in Pre-Employment Screening
Social networking websites such as Facebook allow employers to gain information about applicants which job seekers may not otherwise share during the hiring process. This multi-study investigation examined how job seekers react to this screening practice.
Study 1 (N = 175) employed a realistic selection scenario examining applicant reactions to prospective employers reviewing their social networking website. Study 2 (N = 208) employed a simulated selection scenario where participants rated their experience with a proposed selection process.
In Study 1, social networking website screening caused applicants to feel their privacy had been invaded, which ultimately resulted in lower organizational attraction. Applicants low in agreeableness had the most adverse reactions to social networking website screening. In Study 2, screening again caused applicants to feel their privacy had been invaded, resulting in lower organizational attraction and increased intentions to litigate. The organization’s positive/negative hiring decision did not moderate the relationship between screening and justice.
The results suggest organizations should consider the costs and benefits of social media screening which could reduce the attractiveness of the organization. Additionally, applicants may need to change their conceptualization of social networking websites, viewing them through the eyes of a prospective employer.
This investigation proposed and tested an explanatory model of the effects of screening practices on organizational outcomes demonstrating how electronic monitoring, privacy, and applicant reactions can be integrated to better understand responses to technological innovations in the workplace.
KeywordsElectronic monitoring Procedural justice Organizational attraction Social networking Privacy
- Altman, I. (1975). The environment and social behavior: Privacy, personal space, territory, crowding. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
- Barger, T., Behrend, T. S., Sharek, D. J., & Sinar, E. F. (2011). I-O and the crowd: Frequently asked questions about using Mechanical Turk for research. The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 49(2), 11–18.Google Scholar
- Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2005). Contingent and alternative employment arrangements. (USDL Publication No. 05-1433). Washington, DC.Google Scholar
- CareerBuilder.com. (2009). Forty-five percent of employers use networking sites to research job candidates, CareerBuilder survey finds. CareerBuilder.com. Retrieved January 20, 2010, from http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?id=pr519&sd=8/19/2009&ed=12/31/2009&siteid=cbpr&sc_cmp1=cb_pr519_&cbRecursionCnt=3&cbsid=0c13dc78541544338f04998d7c0dd165-317523116-JD-5.
- Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Ducklin, P. (2009). Sophos Australia Facebook ID probe 2009. Sophos.com. Retrieved January 19, 2010, from http://www.sophos.com/blogs/duck/g/2009/12/06/facebook-id-probe-2009/.
- Duffy, E. (2006, November 1). Employers use Facebook in hiring process. The Observer. Retrieved from http://www.ndsmcobserver.com/2.2754/employers-use-facebook-in-hiring-process-1.263806.
- Eddy, E. R., Stone, D. L., & Stone-Romero, E. E. (1999). The effects of information management policies on reactions to human resource information systems: An integration of privacy and procedural justice perspectives. Personnel Psychology, 52(2), 335–358. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.1999.tb00164.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Finder, A. (2006, June 11). When a risqué online persona undermines a chance for a job. The New York Times, p. A1.Google Scholar
- Goldberg, L. R. (1999). A broad-bandwidth, public domain, personality inventory measuring the lower-level facets of several five-factor models. In I. Mervielde, I. Deary, F. De Fruyt, & F. Ostendorf (Eds.), Personality Psychology in Europe (Vol. 7, pp. 7–28). Tilburg, The Netherlands: Tilburg University Press.Google Scholar
- Goldberg, S. (2010). Young job-seekers hiding their Facebook pages. CNN.com. Retrieved April 20, 2010, from http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/03/29/facebook.job-seekers/index.html.
- Gross, R., & Acquisti, A. (2005). Information revelation and privacy in online social networks (the Facebook case). Paper presented at ACM workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society (WPES) (pp. 71–80). doi:10.1145/1102199.1102214.
- Levinson, M. (2009). Job seekers to employers: Stop snooping! CIO. Retrieved June 16, 2009, from http://advice.cio.com/meridith_levinson/job_seekers_to_employers_stop_snooping.
- Levinson, M. (2011). Social networks: New hotbed for hiring discrimination claims. Computer World. Retrieved June 11, 2011, from http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9215907/Social_Networks_New_Hotbed_for_Hiring_Discrimination_Claims.
- McNichol, T. (2010). The gathering storm of social network litigation. HRO Today, 9(10). Retrieved from http://www.hrotoday.com/content/4756/gathering-storm-social-network-litigation.
- Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2007). Mplus user’s guide (5th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
- National Association of Colleges and Employers. (2006). More than one quarter of organizations have Goggled job candidates profiles. National Association of Colleges and Employers. Retrieved December 08, 2007, from http://www.naceweb.org/press/display.asp?year=2006&prid=240.
- Palank, J. (2006, July 17). Face it: “Book” no secret to employers; social sites used as background check. The Washington Times, p. A01.Google Scholar
- Rynes, S. L. (1993). Who’s selecting whom? Effects of selection practices on applicant attitudes and behavior. In N. Schmitt, W. C. Borman, & Associates (Eds.), Personnel selection in organizations (pp. 240–274). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
- Schiffman, L. (2007, November 12). Employers using Facebook information when hiring. North by Northwestern. Retrieved from http://www.northbynorthwestern.com/2007/11/5072/employers-use-facebook-information-when-hiring/.
- Stern, J. (2012). Maryland Bill Bans Employers From Facebook Passwords. ABC News. Retrieved April 08, 2013, from http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/technology/2012/04/maryland-bill-bans-employers-from-facebook-passwords/.
- Stutzman, F. (2006). An evaluation of identity-sharing behavior in social network communities. Journal of the International Digital Media and Arts Association, 3(1), 10–18.Google Scholar
- Tam, D. (2013). Facebook by the numbers: 1.06 billion monthly active users. C-Net. Retrieved April 12, 2013, from http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57566550-93/facebook-by-the-numbers-1.06-billion-monthly-active-users/.
- Truxillo, D. M., Bauer, T. N., Campion, M. A., & Paronto, M. E. (2006). A field study of the role of Big Five personality in applicant perceptions of selection fairness, self, and the hiring organization. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 14(3), 269–277. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2389.2006.00351.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Valdes, M., & McFarland, S. (2012, March 21). Privacy red flag raised as more job applicants asked to turn over Facebook passwords. The Associated Press. Retrieved from http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_20218922/privacy-red-flag-raised-more-job-applicants-asked.
- Westin, A. F. (1967). Privacy and freedom. New York, NY: Atheneum.Google Scholar
- Wiehl, L. (2008). The law behind hiring practices and the social networking website Facebook. Foxnews.com. Retrieved January 17, 2010, from http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,331970,00.html.
- Wortham, J. (2009). More employers use social networks to check out applicants. NYTimes.com. Retrieved January 19, 2010, from http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/20/more-employers-use-social-networks-to-check-out-applicants/.