The Social Media Dilemma: What to Reveal in a Job Interview

by Michelle Hutchinson

 

Caucasian woman shaking hands with African American woman. Caucasian man looks on.

Your resume and cover letter were perfect. They landed you a job interview. Now you’re meeting with a hiring manager and asked to log into your Facebook account. Do you comply?

Several of my clients have returned from interviews recently to tell me that they’ve been asked to do this. Caught off guard, they logged in, but all felt violated.

Currently, there are no federal or state laws that prohibit employers from asking job candidates to reveal the contents of their social media accounts, but Maryland may be the first state that will pass such a statute.

In the meantime, what should an applicant do?

If you are willing to log into your social media accounts during an interview, then make sure you clean them up before your appointment.

  1. That means deleting all photos (your own and ones in which you have been tagged) that show you inebriated or in less-than-admirable situations and removing posts (your own and ones that others have written on your wall/account) that contain profanity and references to sex, religion, politics, and any compromising positions.
  2. Remove your political and religious affiliations, marital status, and names of your children from your profile.
  3. Change your account settings so that friends cannot tag you in photos.

If you are not willing to log into your social media accounts at job interviews, decide how you will respond to the request. Below is some verbiage I’ve suggested to others, but no one has yet to voice these words, and doing so comes with the risk of being eliminated from the applicant pool. I do believe, however, that the following is better than a flat-out no:

I have nothing embarrassing on my profile, and I would never do anything to embarrass you or this organization, but I do feel that everyone is entitled to some level of privacy, and toward that end, I just don’t feel comfortable logging into my account here.

What do you think of that response? Would it show that you stand by your principles, or do you think you’d lose any chance of being hired?

Readers, have you been faced with this dilemma in a job interview? If so, what did you do, and what was the outcome? If you didn’t get the job, do you think it had anything to do with how you addressed this issue?

If you’ve never faced this situation, how would you respond if an interviewer asked you to log into your social media accounts? Please click “Leave a comment” below to respond.

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