Social media showcases someone’s interests, hobbies, and even personality. By looking at a person’s Instagram profile, you can spot their favorite places, ways of spending time, and even learn about their views on modern trends and culture.

However, you cannot predict whether a person will be a perfect fit for your team or not just by looking at their social media page. People behave differently at home and at work – and that’s the primary argument why many employees are against the idea of checking social media before the interview.

Employers, however, have the opposite opinion. Many of them believe that social media check helps learn about the candidate and it may even serve as a decisive factor upon hiring.

So should you really do it, and if yes, what exactly should you be looking for?

Skills vs personality

Before starting to search for your candidate on social media, give an honest answer to a very important question:

Why do you want to look up this candidate?

In some companies, there is a certain culture or rules of conduct that have to do with the personality of the employees. For example, if you work in a financial company, you’d expect the employees to stick with the casual business style in clothing and refrain from visible tattoos or bright green hair. So obviously, if you see that your candidate is a tattooed party animal, you might worry that such an employee would stir the pot and distract others from work.

Another situation is when a manager takes views and opinions of the employees way too seriously and puts them on par with the skills. In this case, the HR specialists can also check a candidate’s social media profile to make sure the person fits in terms of both skills and desired personality.

However, if you know that skills are the primary thing that matters, social media would not help you much. After all, a person can be an excellent specialist in their field and a totally different person outside the workplace.

So think what matters most: skills or personality. This will make your decision less biased.

Red flags to look for

Social media check should not be the primary factor upon deciding whether to hire a person or not. However, a social media profile may have some red flags that you should pay attention to.

Radical content

All people are different and all have a different opinion about things. This is perfectly fine.

However, if you see a radical content on one’s social media, like an emotional anti-equality post, or an open combative argument online, that should be a huge warning sign.

People have a full right to agree or disagree with things. But an aggressive imposing of opinion may lead to conflict in the future. If the person cannot handle him or herself on social media, there is no guarantee s/he can be professional at work.

Communication style

The way a person communicates with the followers may say a lot about the candidate.

If a person is rude, arrogant, passive-aggressive, or never agree with the opinions of other people, this should concern you. Most people tend to keep the same conversational style both at work and at home.

If you see that a person cannot efficiently communicate, think twice about inviting him or her for an interview – most probably, s/he cannot work as a team player and could introduce constant arguing and temper tantrums.

Too “personal” content

Unless the person is a blogger, it’s not recommended to expose too much of a personal content online. By personal content, we mean posts that contain drunk photos, exposure, etc.

But in this case, watch for the context. If someone had a photoshoot and wants to share the photos, it’s one thing. But if someone’s feed consists of mostly inappropriate photos, this could be a warning sign – especially because your team is so often a reflection of your firm.

Things to look for on social media

Now that we are clear on the big warning signs, let’s look at what can actually help you determine whether the candidate is the right fit for your company.

Content that supports expertise

While scrolling the feed, you may see the photos from conferences, re-posts from industry leaders, links to the online courses, etc.

Such posts support the expertise of a person and show that they are willing to network and grow their skills. But if there are no such posts, that’s OK too. After all, many people prefer not to mix work and personal life.

Content that showcases creativity

Creativity is awesome because it helps employees make unusual decisions and find unique solutions.

So if the posts on social media show a creative mindset, invite a person for an interview! Creativity in personal life can greatly help at work and would become a great asset for an employee. In addition, creative people tend to be independent thinkers who may as well become good leaders.

Content that tells about personality

Let’s be honest – you want to know a bit about the person before inviting them for an interview.

Social media can indeed be a great source of information about the person in terms of habits, interests, hobbies.

By studying one’s social media profile, you can analyze whether the person is introverted or extroverted, loves to lead, or is a good team player. All this information will help you assign proper tasks and make sure that the candidate will be able to play to their strong suit.

Summing up

It’s totally fine to check the candidate’s social media profiles before the interview – after all, it will give you a basic idea about what kind of person the candidate is.

However, do not let social media dictate your hiring decision. Unless their social media is a huge turn-off from the start, invite a person for an interview and see how they behave. It may turn out that you will be pleasantly surprised!

About the Author: Jocelyn Pick