There is nothing easy about screening candidates.
Mishires are costly in many ways. We want to know all we can about a candidate because we think that's how we make the best decision. More is better, right? And with so much information at our fingertips thanks to the Internet, it is quite easy to learn a lot about someone. You can see photos of them on Facebook, read Facebook posts, see their Twitter feed, Google them and learn what organizations they are part of and much more. But does all of this go too far?
While the interest in more and more information is understandable, it does not equate to a better hire. It equates to noise, and potentially damaging noise at that. Damaging? Yes, because through online research you are likely gathering information that is not relevant to job performance and even information that puts you at risk of being accused of discrimination. (See this January 2014 article from Scientific American about a study on this.)
Often, employers are digging around for this additional information online because they lack clarity about what a person in a role needs to deliver, and they lack the structures and skills to evaluate a candidate's likelihood of success. Understandably, this leads to doubt and insecurity when evaluating candidates. And this then leads to grasping for all the information one can get (and information online is just so easy) in order to appease the feeling of doubt.
If you are in the habit of screening candidates online, here are my suggestions:
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