The collected information on Facebook might reveal more about your personality than you think – for instance, your future job performance.
From a ten minute look at a person’s Facebook profile, researchers at Northern Illinois University were able to accurately predict the individual’s job performance when later compared with supervisor evaluations.
The study, to be published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, had three “raters” – two students and one professor all with human resources backgrounds – examine 274 Facebook profiles for five to ten minutes each. They then used “The Big Five” personality traits (extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness) to rate the study participants.
The participants performed a personal evaluation, similar that used by human resources professionals, also focussing on the “The Big Five.” After six months employers were contacted for a performance review with 69 responding, about 25% of the original group.
They found that a ten minute review of Facebook profiles yielded the same performance ratings as the employers provided. The study also found that the Facebook raters knew an individual roughly as well as the individual’s significant other or close friends.
Agreeableness and conscientiousness were the two traits that drove the performance ratings when examining the Facebook profiles. The study states that, “those high in agreeableness are trusting and get along well with others, which may be represented in the extensiveness of personal information posted. Openness to experience is related to intellectual curiosity and creativity which could be revealed by the variety of books, favourite quotations or other posts showing the user engaged in new activities and creative endeavours.”
As social media is now routinely used by companies and human resources professionals to examine potential employees, this study throws new credence to the practice but demands a different approach. A 2011 survey found that of 300 professionals involved in hiring, 90% of them had looked at social media and 69% had rejected a candidate by what they saw.
“Hiring specialists were just trying to eliminate someone who was doing something inappropriate,” Don Kluemper, lead researcher on the project told the Baltimore Sun. “What we did is try to access the personality traits in a similar way that they might be assessed by a standardized test.”
It is known that self-evaluation in job situations can be thrown by the candidate saying what they feel an employer wants to hear, but this study shows that with proper analysis social networking websites might become a valuable tool to employers.
With it comes a warning though:
During a job interview, an employer may avoid asking questions regarding race, religion, sexual preference or marital status because of potential legal issues. However, such information may be posted or obvious on a social networking site.
Review of Facebook profiles may place employers in a legally questionable position with regards to fair hiring practices.
And for the rest of us, who use social networks regularly, always beware what you post online. You never know how it will be perceived and know that it never really goes away.
Image source: Express Hole