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Watch: Where do you draw the line with social media screening?

Is there a limit to the amount of screening companies should do of candidate's social media? We put the question to our expert panellists from in the latest HR Lunchtime Debate - now available on demand.

Caroline Smith, vice president and deputy general counsel international at background screening company HireRight, said social media screening can be important when it comes to recruiting for public facing roles where someone made need to speak on behalf of a company.

She said: "It's become much more of a useful tool in particular when you're recruiting people who may be a face of an organisation, when they're going to be a spokesperson of any sort or sharing any of their views and opinions whether they're senior or not in respect to that organisation.

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Social media screening is also valuable, she added, when recruiting for high risk roles which expose people to sensitive information about a company.

"Social media screening these days is being increasingly used as a risk management tool," Smith said.

"Organisations identify high risk roles - senior or junior - where someone has access to information, whether that's in finance, intellectual property. It can be key to understanding someone's behaviour and spotting changes in their behaviour also."

Some of the panellists expressed concern about biases coming into the recruitment process based on things seen on social media. 

Kelly Thompson, head of HR at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), said: "Subjectivity coming into the decision making process through anything that you find on social media would be the biggest ethical concern for HR teams doing social media screening.

"We should be making decisions as to whether someone's suitable for a role based on the evidence we have to see can they perform that role - is social media helping us to make that decision?"

Alastair Gill, founder of HR consultancy Alchemy Labs, added: "It's tricky territory because you can be making generalisations and  assumptions, but companies have got to have the courage and characteristics in mind to make sure they're not pulling out too quick.

"Your decision could be affected by something you weren't supposed to see."


Look out for more coverage of this debate in the next issue of HR magazine and catch up on demand here.

Find all past HR Lunchtime Debates here.