Social Media Background Checks: All You Should Know

Running background checks on job candidates is an important step in hiring the right candidate. Hence, why most companies ensure they conduct background checks on their candidate. Since many people are now using social media, companies are now running social media background checks. What exactly are social media background checks, and how do you conduct one as an employer. Read this article to find answers to these questions and more. 

What are social media background checks?

Social media background checks are checks conducted on potential hires. These checks help employers know whether the candidate will be the right fit. Some companies glance through a candidate’s public profiles on social media platforms. On the other hand, others look closely at their online activities. Employers use social media data to verify some details of the candidate’s application. Besides, you can discover brand-new details about a candidate’s behavior.

Related: Social media recruitment tips

What are the pros and cons of social media background checks?

As an employer, you can get a lot of valuable information about applicants on social media. But before you go into that, you should know the pros and cons involved.

The pros of social media background checks

The main benefit of knowing the candidate’s online activities is that it helps you make an informed decision. Here are some things you can get to know by going through their online activities;

Culture fits

Getting the right candidate is more than just hiring the applicant with the skills and qualifications. You need to know whether they will fit well into your company’s culture. The things they post about their professional and career lives will help you know this. Besides, you can get to know whether they will be the right fit through their personalities. And you can easily gauge their personalities through their social media activities. 


Another benefit is that you can get to assess their skills. For instance, if you are hiring for the role of a content writer, check through their blogs or LinkedIn profile. This will let you know whether they are good or not. 

Warning signs

You can also get to know about toxic behaviors candidates have. For instance, if a candidate has a behavior that can tarnish the image of the company. You will get to know them through their social media posts. This will help you avoid hiring them even if they have the skills and qualifications you need. 

Related: How to identify toxic candidates in an interview

The cons of social media background checks

Now that you know the positive side of running social media background checks. Let us see the negative sides attached to it;

Getting false information

One of the drawbacks to checking candidates’ online activities is getting false information. This is because a lot of people have the same name. Thus, you might be checking another person’s profile rather than your candidate’s. This could cause you to get false information. Hence, you might wrongly hire or reject a candidate.

A waste of time

Another con of social media checking of candidates is that it leads to a waste of time. This is because you might have to check across different social media platforms. And this could be time-consuming.

Possible discrimination

Information you get while doing an online check might sway your decisions. For instance, realizing a candidate has a habit you hate might make you reject them even if they are the right fit.

Understanding the pros and cons will help you avoid the mistakes of online checks.

How to conduct social media background checks

After knowing the pros and cons involved, you have decided to embark on the check. Here is a guide on how to conduct social media background checks.

Know what you are looking for.

First, you should know what you are looking for, whether it is positive or negative. Knowing what you are looking for will help hasten the research process. So, before you even begin, write down a list of both positive and negative things to look out for. For instance, the positive things that you would look out for can be things that can be good for the company’s image. On the other hand, seeing things that can tarnish the image of your company should turn you away from such a candidate.

Wait till the end of the hiring process.

Make sure you wait till the end of the hiring process before conducting online checks. Waiting till this moment means you have concluded the interview process. And you have seen the candidate with the right qualifications. You probably just want to double-check with the background check. This way, you will be able to save time and resources. Thus, you won’t waste time on candidates you don’t have an interest in.

Bypass the hiring manager.

Another step to take is to bypass the hiring manager. If you, as an employer, do not have time to do the background check, you can give it to your supervisors. Better still, you can hire companies that do that to do the checking for you. This is because hiring managers are directly in charge of hiring for the company. And if they are given this task, their decision might be swayed by whatever information they are privy to. This could cause them to make a hiring decision that might affect the company.

Stay consistent.

You should be consistent while doing the background check. If you have two candidates you are considering for a position, don’t check one person’s online activities and leave the other unchecked. Many employers do this a lot, and the reason they give is that someone is giving them a bad vibe. If you are not consistent with your check, then you are biased already.

Stick to public places.

While doing your research about the online activities of candidates, make sure you stick to public places. This means that you should only check social media platforms that are public. Under no circumstances should you ask a candidate for the password to their social media account. This is a breach of privacy, and the candidate could sue you. So, make sure you stick to public places. 

Final Thoughts

While you must conduct a background check on your potential employee, make sure you inform them before you take any steps. However, you might not necessarily inform them that you will be running a social media background check. Stick to checking profiles that are public to avoid the possibility of being sued. 


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