Social media screening refers to the analysis of a candidate’s social media posts. “The overall goal is to surface undesirable behavior,” says Darrin. It involves analyzing their digital persona and assessing the risk they may pose for the organization if hired and if they are a good match.
While company culture is a significant driver of success, a toxic culture, on the other hand, can create an imbalance in this dynamic. According to a study released by MIT Sloan, toxic workplace culture was a significant driver behind the Great Resignation.
Social media background checks are essential for hiring suitable candidates. “Culture and brand protection are the biggest drivers behind social media screening,” he says.
It is crucial to assess ‘candidate character’ and identify potential red flags as it directly affects corporate culture. Darrin believes that employees should be able to express themselves freely on social media, “but free speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences,” he says.
“The employees are a company’s biggest brand ambassadors, so it makes sense to identify the employees that represent the least threat before hiring them. Economically, it reduces turnover, makes the workforce more productive, and helps mitigate reputational risks,” says Darrin.
Pre-employment social media screening challenges
Are there any challenges in the proper implementation of social media screening?
“Various companies have social media policies, but they don’t have a proper enforcement mechanism,” he says. The screening process must be compliant with regional employee data protection regulations such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in the US.
There are also several issues with the manual process of social media screening, such as failure to be comprehensive and wasteful usage of staff time. How can this be resolved?
Leveraging AI as a social media screening tool
This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes into play. According to Darrin, before 2020, the social media screening process was done manually. It was error-prone, and employee oversight was a problem.
Now, AI helps companies mitigate employment risks by automating this process. “This application of AI is a game changer and is helping to reshape the industry,” he says.
AI also proves to be helpful in quickly incorporating more recent social media platforms like Reddit and TikTok that need to be taken into account due to the growing number of social media users.
Darrin also believes that organizations should outsource social media screening services for the following reasons:
It clouds the hiring manager’s judgment during the hiring process and might result in adverse action.
The social media assessment protocols are inconsistent and differ from one hiring manager to another.
Are social media reports a part of background screening?
“Social media reports are subjective,” Darrin says. According to him, it is up to the employer to determine the company’s tolerance and culture fit of a potential candidate. “The aim of social media background checks is to surface potential risks and not to provide adjudication,” he adds.
As companies look for the right candidate, they must be conscious of how future employees can use social media to gain insight into an organization’s workplace culture.
This is another reason companies have started including social media management as an integral part of their business strategy.
“Companies realize that perceptions about their brands are largely formed on social media. So, the best thing is to ensure they have a strong workplace culture,” he adds.