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Employers Checking FB to Screen Applicants Draw the Wrong Conclusions

Companies often check social media to get a sense of how prospective employees behave on their own time. If there are photos involving alcohol or drug use, for instance, your resume may end up in the circular file. But new research from NC State’s Department of Psychology says that’s actually a bad move for employers.

“Companies often scan a job applicant’s Facebook profile to see whether there is evidence of drug or alcohol use, believing that such behavior means the applicant is not ‘conscientious,’ or responsible and self-disciplined,” says Dr. Lori Foster Thompson, a professor of psychology at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the study. However, the researchers found that there is no significant correlation between conscientiousness and an individual’s willingness to post content on Facebook about alcohol or drug use.

“This means companies are eliminating some conscientious job applicants based on erroneous assumptions regarding what social media behavior tells us about the applicants,” says Will Stoughton, a Ph.D. student at NC State and lead author of the paper.

Listen to Dr. Thompson discuss the research with National Public Radio’s Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson. Here’s the NPR interview and the news release.