If you want to get a good idea of how job candidates will perform after they're hired, check out their Facebook page.
Looking at Facebook profiles for job performance indicators can be just as — if not more — accurate as self-reported personality tests, according to a new study from researchers at Old Dominion University in Virginia.
In the study, researchers compared personality traits gleaned from Facebook profiles to job candidates' self-reported personality tests, to see which method was a better predictor of job performance.
"Not only can you find very current information on someone's social media profile, but you can also access a record of that person's past behavior," said Katelyn Cavanaugh, one of the study's authors and a doctoral student at Old Dominion. "There is value in that; we cannot capture someone's history in a single personality test."
Richard Landers, an Old Dominion assistant professor and the study's co-author, said social media gives employers a realistic photograph of the person, so the information is more authentic than what a personality test can reveal.
"On self-report measures, applicants can generally figure out what the company wants them to be and answer to reflect that," he said. "On social media, that's much harder."
While employers can learn a lot about potential hires from social media, the researchers said there are some legal concerns, especially when it comes to looking at profiles containing information about protected characteristics, such as race, age and sexual orientation.
"If hiring managers want to use social media as a selection device, there are steps that need to be taken," Landers said. "It doesn't work to just look at Facebook for five minutes before the interview."
Landers recommended two steps hiring managers should take to protect themselves. First, they should have a third party clear the profile of all of the potential protected-class information (race, age and sexual orientation). Second, they should have more than one hiring manager look at the scrubbed profile before a decision is made.
"Generally, you need far more than one hiring manager to get an accurate read on profiles and traits," Landers said. "It can take up to 15 people to get reliable results."
This research will be presented at the 29th annual Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology conference, to be held this May in Hawaii.
Originally published on Business News Daily.