There has been much discussed about the use of social networking sites in doing background checks of candidates.  I’m still on the fence, but I am leaning towards using them.  Here is an actual example I heard on Friday.

An owner of a medium-sized company had a problem with a previous executive assistant – let’s just say it was far too personal.  She was dismissed from the role and the company looked to hire a new assistant.

The hiring process for her replacement involved the owner’s wife who was going to spend 1 hour interviewing each candidate.  Also, the new executive assistant would not be allowed on the company plane – she would have to fly commercial.  You get the picture.

One of the final candidates being considered turns out was a former topless dancer.  The candidate shared this information with the recruiter who could have found this information on a social network site (she looked later).  Now, this candidate may have had the right skills, but would it be wise to place her in this position?  Clearly if she was willing to share this private information in an interview and on a social network site, how long would she have been in the role before sharing her past with others?

The owner’s wife would dismiss her as soon as she heard about her past.

So who benefits from silence or a lack of a social network search in this situation?  The strong candidate would have to explain a short tenure at this company.  The owner would still be in need of an executive assistant.

The example is wrought with legal complexities, but in a real-world sense I think the best scenario is to use the social networks in the background check, discover the information and pursue a different candidate.

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