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Should employers use social media to screen job applicants?

Posted on Monday, September 5, 2022
Social Media

Many companies make social media screening part of their overall pre-employment screening process. A study found that 55% of companies using social media screening said they had found content posted on social media that directly caused them not to hire a candidate. With this in mind, you should consider making social media checks a part of your screening process.

What is social media screening? 

Social media screening is when employers conduct social media checks using online behaviour evaluation tools to judge a candidate's social media profile. Social media screening is there to potentially flag up any risks a candidate may pose to an employer. 


During the screening process, employers want to get an accurate idea of job applicants' personalities and character, and whether they will fit nicely into their company culture and core values. Taking a look at applicants' social media accounts during the screening process can give employers an idea of this alongside picking up on anything that may pose a risk to the business.

Social Media

For example, this could be exhibiting negative behaviour on social media such as posts tantamount to bullying, racism, misogyny, extremism, and so on. It also allows employers to check up on what candidates are liking, sharing, retweeting, and any online groups they are part of.

Social media screening will also pick up on how candidates deal with potential privacy issues. You don't want to employ someone in a sensitive role who has a habit of casually leaking sensitive information and content online since this could damage your organisation's reputation and lead to public mistrust of your data protection capabilities.

How do employers screen social media?

Employers mainly sift through content posted by and affiliated with candidates on large social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. However, don't rule out that government bodies and organisations handling sensitive data won't also go through candidates' Instagram and TikTok accounts. 

Is social media screening ethical?

Hiring managers must stay in line with compliance standards when carrying out pre-employment social media screening on posts candidates have put on public social media platforms, otherwise, employers can be accused of employment discrimination.

 Some people feel social media screening is unethical as it's snooping that infringes on the right of staff to have a social life away from work. Social media screening can ultimately lead to somebody not securing a job because of things they didn't put on their CV, such as sexuality or political opinions. 

There are certainly dos and don'ts when comes to ethical social media screening. For instance, hacking social media accounts and focusing on irrelevant non-business-related information are no-nos. A stringent well-thought-out interview process can help employers get a clear idea of whether a candidate's values and so on align with the company,  removing the need to look into their online postings on personal social media accounts.


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Do you have to notify candidates beforehand that a social media review is taking place?

Companies in 2022 must be transparent and notify candidates early on that a social media review will be part and parcel of the screening process. You will break the law as an employer if candidates haven't agreed to a social media review and you do one anyway to influence your hiring decisions, or you look at the social media pages of some candidates and not others. It has to be the same procedure for everyone when it comes to social media reviews.

Are you a modern employer wanting to use social media screening to recruit individuals who are the right fit? Social media screening can be added to your pre-employment screening package with Secure Screening Services

Get in touch with us at Secure Screening Services today to talk through the bespoke screening options we offer by emailing [email protected], filling out a contact form on our website, or phoning us on 01243 767 868.

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