Today my son sent all of the members of our family a link to an article that he had read. Go ahead and read the link. Take a few minutes. It will help make the rest of this much more interesting…..Okay. Now, our son’s message to all of us was simple: “Would you do it?”
So, let’s pretend you are a person who needs a job. You are also a person who has a facebook account. Let’s say that you are a person who is smart enough to maintain privacy controls on that account so that you control those who will have access your page.
Now let’s say that you get an interview for a wonderful job. Yay! It would be the perfect job. You prepare for the interview, get there on time, dressed appropriately, and have all of the references and other information ready to provide to the interviewer. The interview is going well. The HR person seems to like you; you had the perfect answer when asked “What was your biggest mistake and how did you turn it into a positive life experience?” Then the HR person turns to you and says “Oh, and by the way, I will need your user name and password so that we can check your facebook page. We’ll be setting up second interviews in the next few days. If we decide to advance your application, we’ll give you a call.”
What would you do?
I have asked several colleagues for their reaction. They are young professionals and were uniformly outraged by the question. The answers I have received have ranged from “I’d set up a dummy page and give the password for that”, to “I wouldn’t want to work for a place that would ask that”, and “I don’t have a facebook page”.
Of course, you are being asked on the spot in the middle of the interview. You may not be able to set up a dummy page before they check it. And they may not be interested in hiring anyone so hopelessly out of touch that they would not have a facebook page.
My reaction is a bit different. I see the question as a test. In this day and age, a company’s secrets and protected information are vitally important. Security is a top priority. One of the most vulnerable points of entry for a competitor to access that type of information would be an employee. How would you know which employees would be most likely to hand over secret information if put in a difficult position? I know! We could test potential employees to see if they will reveal secret information when requested in order to move ahead in their career?
Thus this very offensive question is part of the interview.Okay, no, maybe not. It is probably just a very offensive question designed to obtain private information.
I question the legality of the question considering the ADA, and in light of age, gender, and race discrimination issues. It is one thing to troll a public facebook page, quite another to require access to private information irrelevant to the job as a condition of employment.
My facebook page contains absolutely nothing negative about me. But I am very protective of my private information. Those pictures of my grandchildren are not relevant to any job. This is why this blog is not linked to my facebook page. This is why I limit the personal information shared on this blog. This is why I have maintained my facebook page as non-searchable, and available only to the friends I choose. I know the importance of protecting private information.
Here’s my humble advice to any of the employers using this technique: If I don’t give my password to your HR person to allow you access to my private information, you should hire me immediately.