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Candidate asked for Facebook login, interview privacy abused

interview privacy

These guys weren’t asked for their Facebook login

Interview privacy

Interview privacy is abused. Yes, during an interview the candidate was asked for his Facebook login information.  Right there in the middle of the interview.  WTF!  This move takes some big ass brass cojones! What happened to interview privacy?

I cannot believe this. Am I getting punked?  Is this an HR joke?  It’s not April 1 yet, is it?  HR wonders why they have a bad reputation?  I will tell you why.  Because of SHIT LIKE THIS!  This move just set HR back to circa MadMen HR days and is only reinforcing HR’s reputation around this classic article that made the cover of Fast Company magazine back in 97, Why we hate HR.

If this wasn’t someone from HR and was a hiring manager, I still blame this on HR.

I get that times are hard, the economy is tough and candidates need to make concessions during the interview process.  Some folks are taking jobs they are overqualified for, others are taking a cut in pay.  To add more insult to injury, let’s ask for your Facebook login.  Petty.  In the immortal words of Run-DMC, “your mouth is moving fast and your brain is moving slow, you be illin.”

Unions were formed back in the day to protect employees from abusive employers who knew better and didn’t care.  “Yes sir, thank you sir, can I have another please?”

In this case, the candidate pulled out of the interview process explaining that they didn’t want to interview with a company that would ask for personal information.  Good for you!  Do not sell your soul to the man!  The candidate is a statistician and based on the demand for this skill set, probably has plenty of opportunities.  They obviously didn’t need to put up with this bullshit.  Personally, I would have given them my username and password, tried to get the job, with the intent of declining it at the last-minute after I dragged the process out as long as possible.  Even as I type, I am trying to figure out if I would tell them why I am declining the position.  Do I really want to help these people or should I let the theory of Darwinism weed them out of the corporate evolution?  Maybe these folks aren’t dumb.  Maybe they are brilliant and ahead of their time.   Maybe this will be common practice in 10 years just like a background check.  But right now, it isn’t and I can only imagine that the Best Place to Work award isn’t on this company’s radar. Respect interview privacy, please.

I believe this company is being short-sighted:

  • There is a good chance that the candidate who hands over their login info is either naïve, desperate or both.  I don’t want to hire either.  (Never appear desperate)
  • If they hand over their password, are they happy about it?  Do they trust the company moving forward?  Is Big Brother reading my email?
  • The person that declines this request has options.  This person is going to go to the competition and probably be motivated to crush you.
  • If they decline you, they are probably going to tell all of their friends about the incident just like any bad service related story.  DOH!! They already did!  Bet they posted the incident on Facebook with a picture of the company logo and a caption.

Because there are so many ways to run a legit background this smacks of HR being petty and lazy.  Let’s face it, if you need to pull this move, you shouldn’t be interviewing and you shouldn’t be in HR.

Rats will leave a sinking ship and this rat didn’t even get on the boat.

Do I check Facebook when I am going on a blind date?  Absolutely!  I have posted about it here.

The above post is about leveraging your Facebook profile picture as a tool to help you land a job.  We know that recruiters are going to check your Facebook page, so give them what they want.  No blank boxes, no cartoon characters, and use a picture that is big enough to see, please.

But to flat-out ask for a log-in info seems a little Orwellian.   As the article suggests, why not ask for log-in information to the candidates Gmail account?  Why stop there?  The party is just getting started!  Credit Card statements?  Blood work?  Who knows, maybe this place was Employer of the Universe and had stellar candidates coming out of their ass.  This company has an on-site masseuse and a rock-climbing wall.  This company has an ice cream truck in the lobby serving free Dove Bars.  We are not Philistines people!!!

So how is this different from asking for permission to run a background check?  I will be the first to admit, beyond the privacy issues, it is a grey line.

But it is HR’s job to decipher the grey and keep the business of people issues confidential.  HR is about respecting employee privacy and solving people problems while keeping the noise in a sound proof box.

HR is supposed to foster trust.  Asking for log-in info doesn’t give me much confidence.  We run a background check to protect co-workers and the business from possible crime and fraud.   Maybe I am in a same-sex relationship and not ready to share that info.

In prior posts, I have taken the position that if a candidate is asked to reveal their age the answer should be given with no hesitation, here.  At the end of the day, the same HR group that asks for log-in info isn’t holding interview training, and we don’t want to give up an opportunity because some uninformed line manager didn’t know about interview privacy.

This takes dumbass to a whole new level of ass.    This isn’t just dumbass, this is Dumb and Dumber dumbass.  Interviewing is like dating and this interviewer just got their hand slapped at first base.   In the first few dates of a new relationship, (the interviewing phase) you don’t go into your dates home looking to pull out the picture albums and the shoebox of mementos from prior relationships.  This is stuff that you are invited to see (after years of trust), not stuff you demand to invade.

If the password is given, do they go through all the pictures, timelines and comments and ask the candidate for explanations of everything right there on the spot? ” Uhh, what are you doing here?”  “Who is this?”  “Ooooohh, that’s a nice picture.”

Can we say “awkward” . .  .

I am sure that this situation is an outlier but I can picture in my mind a gaggle of HR folks sitting around the lunch table having this conversation.

HR person #1:  Hey, what happened to that Statistician candidate you were talking to?  That candidate seemed solid. 

HR Dumbass:  Oh, they dropped out.  They didn’t want to interview with us anymore. 

HR person #1:  Really?  What happened?  What changed their mind?

HR Dumbass:  Not sure really, I asked them some questions about Facebook and they said I was invading their privacy.

HR Person #1:  Invading their privacy?  Are they serious?  Do they want the job or not?   Did they not see the ice cream truck in the front lobby?

See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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