-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, July 5 (HealthDay News) -- Companies may be looking at
the wrong things when using Facebook to screen job applicants and,
as a result, could be overlooking people who would be good
employees, a new study suggests.
It is common for employers to assess potential job candidates
for certain personality traits, such as conscientiousness,
agreeableness and extraversion. For the study, researchers measured
these traits in 175 people and also looked at their Facebook
The findings might surprise many corporate human resources
officials, according to the North Carolina State University
"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," study co-author and psychology professor Lori Foster Thompson, said in a university news release.
However, the study found no significant link between
conscientiousness and a person'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," study lead author and Ph.D. student Will Stoughton said in the news release.
Discounting job candidates because they've posted alcohol- or
drug-related content on Facebook may be an especially bad idea for
companies looking for extroverts to fill jobs in areas such as
sales or marketing, the researchers noted.
Extroverts were significantly more likely to have postings about
alcohol or drugs than others in the study. So companies that bypass
these applicants will have a much smaller pool of job candidates
who are extroverts.
There was a strong association between one type of Facebook
behavior and agreeableness and conscientiousness. People who rated
highly on both those personality traits were very unlikely to
insult other people on Facebook.
"If employers plan to keep using social media to screen job applicants, this study indicates they may want to focus on eliminating candidates who badmouth others -- not necessarily those who post about drinking beer," Stoughton said.
The study was published online July 1 in the journal
Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.
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