Publishing Personal Information Online
The present study examined the use of Social Networking Sites (SNSs) in selection procedures. Using qualitative research methods, 15 participants with involvement in selection were interviewed. These were aimed at distinguishing how employers access, observe and utilise data from SNSs in their selection procedures, as well as investigating employers’ perceptions of privacy and discrimination. Each participant also deconstructed four Facebook profiles to provide an insight into what employers observe and the interpretation they make about the user. Of the 15 participants, nine admitted accessing SNS profiles but only two suggested these formed part of the official selection process; one conducted internet screening as part of the process and the other sought candidate permission before accessing their profile. The other seven covertly researched the candidates’ profiles. Whether official or unofficial the study sought to understand the value of this research to employers. Facebook and LinkedIn were most prominently used, accessed through Google and the employer’s personal SNS account. Facebook was used to understand person-organisation fit and soft skill, while LinkedIn was used to distinguish professional attributes. In relation to the deconstruction of the Facebook profiles, there was consensus and accuracy regarding the personality and attributes of the volunteers providing evidence of the validly of SNS screening. But, when questioned about this, interviewees suggested that: (1) SNS, and in particular Facebook, profiles were not always indicative of the person; and, (2) there was disagreement about whether a candidate’s personal life reflected their work persona. Therefore this raises questions about why organisations actually utilise SNS and what valuable information they gleam. Employers concerns relating to privacy tended to surround the legality of the access as opposed to the ethical considerations of utilising an unofficial selection tool. Although some were cognisant of potential discrimination issues associated with recognising, for example, age, gender and ethnicity, others were of the view that this would eventually emerge within other parts of the selection process and is therefore was not an issue solely associated with SNSs, rather with the integrity of the selectors and the process. Results emphasise the importance of further research and education in the subject area of SNSs in selection.
Advisor: O'Kane, Paula
Degree Name: Master of Business
Degree Discipline: Management
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Online Social Networking; Facebook; Recruitment; Selection; LinkedIn; Web 2.0
Research Type: Thesis