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Would You Supply Your Facebook Password During an Interview?
May 2012

Lately there have been many news stories and articles about how companies are asking candidates for the passwords to their social media accounts during the interview process.

For years, companies have been doing background and credit checks as part of their pre-employment screening. I have not heard of anyone in my vast network of recruiters and HR professionals asking candidates for their Facebook login information. If you were asked to provide that information during an interview, would you provide it?

I might follow up with some questions about the organization's "Code of Ethics" or similar policies and address how I am a responsible adult and corporate citizen. I would explain that I am not comfortable with giving out my passwords, but happy to address any questions that they had. Personally, I would question if I wanted to work for a company who felt it was important to log into my personal social media accounts. That is a little too "Big Brother" for my tastes.

I do know many recruiters who will Google a candidate, review their LinkedIn profile and see what information might be available via public record. It is important to remember that your LinkedIn or Facebook information is only a small percentage of the data that might be available about you online. A detailed Google search can turn up comments on blogs, user groups, bulletin boards and/or Craigslist. Photos and videos are posted and tagged on sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Picasa etc.

Those photos of you getting trashed on vacation, or the naughty photo you sent to your significant other might make their way to the public domain. Joining a group on Facebook called "This is America, Speak English" or "I Hate Working at Company ABC" or your rant about your boss as a comment on your friend's blog could shed a negative light on your ability to represent an organization in a positive way.

Employers are still bound to follow EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) antidiscrimination laws when using online research, covering a persons age, gender, religion, disability, national origin or race when making hiring decisions. However, recruiters and hiring managers can dig up information about you that might keep you from getting your dream job.

Remember there are things you can do in order to ensure you have a positive online presence:

  • Research yourself online and look for inaccuracies so you can identify and rectify them before a potential employer points them out to you.

  • Create a few variations of Google alerts so that every time new information about you is posted on the Web, you will get e-mail notification.

  • Think about the people you connect with on the various social media sites. Make sure you connect with people you trust and who will give you good recommendations.

  • Use privacy settings on the various social media sites. Review the privacy settings on a regular basis as sites like Facebook update their privacy policy on a regular basis.

  • Post positively. Take control of your online presence. Ensure there are posts about things such as your career accomplishments, volunteer activities or community involvement.