[IPAC-List] Facebook

Mark Hammer Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca
Wed Feb 27 10:22:44 EST 2013

Said it before, and I'll say it again. I think the difficulty with
using information on social media sites as a basis for selection is that
they are used for, and can pretty much only provide, negative
information about candidates. Positive information about people is rare
in their web-presence, if only because people who do good works often
don't brag about it or receive awards for it.

If one is selecting for a position that demands high security and/or
discretion, then I suppose someone's public admission or bragging of
their extreme degree of intoxication (perhaps with illicit substances)
suggests that they may not be ideally suited for that position. But for
a lot of other positions, all it may do is inform about what people are
willing to talk about, rather than provide a full accounting such that
positive and negative indicators can be weighed out against each other.
Should we infer that those whose Facebook page (or whatever supplants it
in the years to come) do NOT include detailed exploits or lists of
"friends" are good hires, or creepily asocial hires?

The inference that extroversion is associated with certain styles or
amounts of Facebook content strikes me as sensible, but quantification
against a cutoff is not feasible, or at least seriously premature.
You'd think that whoever wishes to assess personality traits for
selection would have a little more rigour than that, whether the
information source is Facebook or anything else. Sheesh, if we can't
put faith in unstructured interviews, why the dickens put faith in
exploration of Facebook pages? I suppose there is the reasonable belief
that people may reveal aspects of themselves in an unguarded way, but
they'll do that doing block design on the WAIS, for crying out loud.

For myself, I have only knowingly seen a Facebook page (at least I
think that's what it was) on maybe 3 occasions, and have no use for it
myself (which is increasingly shutting me out of a great many
discussions as hobby or other substantive discussions migrate there,
unfortunately, but so be it). I could probably fit my entire LinkedIn
profile into a tweet several times.

In general, with only a few exceptions, use of social media information
sounds like a crapshoot to me, and a step down in terms of
professionalism in assessment. Some employers may not be, but I like to
think we're better than that.

Mark Hammer


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