Study: Facebook useful in predicting job success

By Lauren Dielman

A recent research study found that Facebook is more useful in predicting job success than personality tests employers use.

Don Kluemper, assistant professor of management, performed his research with Kevin Mossholder, assistant professor of management at Auburn University, and Peter Rosen, associate professor of management at University of Evansville.

Mossholer said Kluemper was the driving force behind the project. Kluemper wanted to conduct research on this subject because of an increasing number of employers who are using social networking sites to screen job candidates.

“Our study showed that Facebook ratings are stronger than self-ratings of personality,” Kluemper said. “There is an emerging area of research that shows ‘other’ ratings of personality are a stronger predictor of job performance than self-ratings.”

Kluemper said one’s friends, family and coworkers are examples of “other” ratings of personality. Kluemper, Mossholder and Rosen’s study argues that “Facebook raters” can know someone well by looking through their profile.

This is the first incidence of a correlation between Facebook personality and job performance, according to Rosen.

Rosen said employers can get a sense of who a person is from their Facebook page.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, what are a thousand pictures worth to a hiring organization?” Rosen said. “Pencil and paper personality tests do not give these organizations the same quantity/quality information.”

Holly Nicholson, social media specialist for the department of communications and marketing, said in an email she thinks Facebook gives a relatively accurate depiction of users’ personalities, unless they intentionally try to misrepresent themselves.

Kluemper said despite the information they gained from their study, Facebook should not replace personality tests used by employers because of privacy issues and laws, which are defended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Despite this, some are already engaging in this process of using social networking sites.

“A 2009 study found that 45 percent of hiring organizations were using social networking websites to screen candidates,” Rosen said. “So if employers are already engaging in this practice, it becomes very important to study this practice.”

Like Kluemper, Nicholson said personality tests should not be replaced as of now.

“There is a great chance that an employer won’t have access to the most telling aspects of a person’s profile,” Nicholson said. “Mine, for instance, is not viewable to the general public – only to my friends.”

Mossholder said their research suggests that people should be cautious before posting personal information about themselves on any social media site.

“I believe many who study social media caution individuals that what gets posted in social media can have repercussions beyond the original impetus for the initial posting,” Mossholder said.

Rosen said people on social networking sites should try to present themselves in the best possible way because of who could be viewing their profile.

“I believe it is important for college students to post content to their social networking sites that portrays them in a positive light,” Rosen said. “Whether or not employers will admit to using information other than a job application, resume, interview and background check in the screening/hiring process, surveys suggest that they are using data found in social networking sites.”