Friday, March 23, 2012

Get Out Of My Face-book

There has been a lot of discussion about some potential employers reportedly requesting Facebook credentials from prospective employees as a part of the interview process. I find this troubling if it's true or widespread.

I'm not a lawyer, nor am I a human resources professional. I am not in a position to cite court cases, precedents or decisions. We also will not wander into an explanation of protected classes or privacy concerns raised. We are not even going to mention the cautionary note Facebook themselves have now released to the public. It is a warning enumerating the liabilities a company might be exposed to by engaging in such a practice.

I am going to take a much more common sense approach.

As many of you may know, I have been looking for my next full time role for some months. During this time I have been on a number of interviews and have both studied and advised on the proper way to prepare yourself and how to behave. You also know (if you have been following me at all) that I am quite active on all of the most popular social networks.

Moreover, as a senior manager for the last twenty years or more I have frequently been on the other side of the desk conducting the interview and doing the candidate evaluations. My focus is always on how well one will fit the roll. The question is whether you have the necessary technical skills, the required interpersonal skills and are you sufficiently motivated. What you do evenings and weekends is your business. It is inconceivable to me that anyone would probe your behavior outside of the workplace.

Asking a candidate to surrender his or her password in my mind is akin to asking for the keys to their house so you can see how they live. Are there clothes on the floor, dirty dishes in the sink or oil stains on the garage floor. This is like asking for their wallet so you can peruse the collection of credit cards, photos and check out their cash situation. In fact, let's take a walk to the parking lot so I can see what kind of car you drive. Does it have dents or rust, or is it clean and waxed? Let's open the glove box and pop the trunk so we can have a look around. Do you have unpaid parking tickets hidden in there?

Such requests are ludicrous. And so is asking an applicant for access to their social network account.

No HR professional or hiring manager would make requests like these. If they did most candidates would be outraged and flatly refuse. That is exactly how you should deal with this password request should it happen to you during an interview. The answer is more than a simple no. It should be, "How dare you."

Captain Joe

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