• International Workplace
  • 8 October 2019

Social media: an acceptable interviewee vetting method?

Employers want to know as much about prospective employees as possible before offering them a role, and in today’s world it’s perhaps not surprising that they sometimes turn to social media as a way of screening.

But is this acceptable? And where does it end?

On the whole, social media is used by people to express themselves, share stories and events and communicate with friends. It’s a way of sharing everything – or as much as you want to – of your life with people you care about. However, when employers have access to your social media profile, they can delve into the interviewee’s personality and try to find out some of the information that they wouldn’t have been able to retrieve from a typical interview.

This was the case with employer Kickass Masterminds, who shared an image of a bikini-clad candidate to exemplify her as a “bad example” of an applicant. The company has since been accused of “objectifying” her – The Sun reported.

Kickass Masterminds discovered a picture on interviewee Emily Clow’s personal Instagram, in which she was wearing a bikini. The employer cropped out her face from the photo and posted on its own professional Instagram, commenting:

“PSA (because I know some of you applicants are looking at this): do not share your social media with a potential employer if this is the kind of content on it.

“I am looking for a professional marketer – not a bikini model. Go on with your bad self and do whatever in private. But this is not doing you any favours in finding a professional job.”

After discovering the image on her would-be employer’s social media, Clow called the move “inappropriate and unprofessional” and took to social media to air her frustration at the post.

Taking to Twitter, she wrote: “I was objectified earlier today by a company because of a picture of me in a bikini. They claimed it made me an ‘unprofessional.’”

Responses to her posts included one individual who answered:

“This girl applied for an internship at a company, and they put up this screenshot of her in a bikini on their company Instagram, publicly telling everybody they wouldn’t hire her because of this photo.”

There are conduct lessons to be learnt for employers, particularly in public shaming candidates or existing employees online. This was a personal matter that should have been discussed with the candidate on a personal level in order to explain why they were unsuccessful on this occasion.