[IPAC-List] Facebook

Bryan Baldwin Bryan.Baldwin at doj.ca.gov
Wed Feb 27 11:24:08 EST 2013

My sense is that to a large extent the research is trying to catch up to what’s happening in “the real world”, which is many hiring supervisors routinely check Facebook on candidates, regardless of what we as assessment professionals think. Which leaves it up to us to determine whether there is any validity in doing this and, if not, to figure out how to communicate this to our customers as well as come up with alternatives that are equally palatable and provide similar “soft skill” information. The problems with Facebook are its easy access and intriguing nature. So we just need to come up with an alternative, more job-related internet-based social profile. Sponsored by TMZ.
Bryan Baldwin
Personnel Officer
Department of Justice
Division of Administrative Support
(916) 322-5446

From: ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org [mailto:ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org] On Behalf Of Mark Hammer
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 7:23 AM
To: IPAC-List
Subject: Re: [IPAC-List] Facebook

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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