Facebook A Better Tool For Predicting Best Job Candidates
February 22, 2012

Facebook A Better Tool For Predicting Best Job Candidates

Researchers from the Northern Illinois University's College of Business found that Facebook was a better tool for predicting the success of job candidates than more conventional methods.

The team found that a five- to 10-minute browse on a job candidate's Facebook page was a stronger predictor of a candidate's likelihood to excel in a job than a personality survey.

The study did not take into account potential legalities regarding a Facebook evaluation, but it is the first to study the value of the social network when picking job candidates.

“A lot of actions are taken based on Facebook profiles — people are hired, fired, suspended — but this is the first study to systematically examine whether using Facebook to help make such decisions has any validity,” Don Kluemper, a professor of management at Northern Illinois University´s College of Business, said in a recent press release.

The team had a group of participants complete a personality questionnaire commonly used by companies to gauge conscientiousness, agreeableness, extraversion, emotional stability and openness.

The participants also granted a team of three raters to access their Facebook profiles, with each team member browsing the profiles to answer similar questions about the subject.

They then calculated two personality scores per subject, one based on responses from the subject and the second based on responses from the raters.

They found that the Facebook raters had a pretty good idea about the participants´ personality after perusing the social network.

“Based upon other studies, we were able to conclude that after a five-minute perusal of a Facebook page, raters were able to answer questions regarding the subject about as reliably as would be expected of a significant other or close friend,” Kluemper said in the press release.

The team then followed a group of the participants who were employed six months later, and asked their supervisors to complete a performance evaluation of the employee.

They found that the Facebook-derived scores provided a more accurate predictor of future job performance than the personality test from the self-evaluation.

The researchers discovered in a second study that student Facebook scores were a better predictor of future academic success than personality and IQ scores combined.

Kluemper said he did not expect to find that Facebook was a better predictor than personality and IQ measures being used by businesses today.

“In five or 10 minutes, our raters could look at the tone of a subject´s wall post, note the number of friends they have, peruse their photos to see how social they were and assess their tastes in books and music. It´s a very rich source of information,” Kluemper said in the press release.

He said that despite the success of the Facebook evaluation, he does not recommend human resource professionals replace their current methodology with the social network analysis.

“Before it can be used as a legally defensible screening tool, it has to be proven valid,” Kluemper said. “This research is just a first step in that direction.”

The authors published their findings in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.


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