The person you’re thinking of hiring has posted a bunch of pictures of themselves drunkenly vomiting on their cat on their Facebook page — does this mean they’re a bad fit for your company? The answer, according to research flagged by Forbes‘ Kashmir Hill, is “maybe not.” The new study, conducted by researchers at Florida State University, Old Dominion University, Clemson University, and Accenture, found that there is no correlation between how prospective employers rated someone’s Facebook profile and how well that person actually performed at their job.
Even worse, the researchers found that recruiters on average gave lower ratings to people who “had traditionally non-White names and/or who were clearly non-White,” which means that using Facebook profiles as a criteria for hiring someone may reinforce racial prejudices. Other reasons why prospective hires drew negative marks for their Facebook pages included the use of profanity, references to sexual activity and religious quotations — in other words, things that are completely normal to the vast majority of people in the world.
“There’s a big allure to using Facebook — hiring managers say they want to get a sense of the applicant’s character,” Clemson researcher Philip Roth tells Forbes. “It really appears hard for people to stop themselves from doing it if they don’t have an HR background. I wouldn’t want to use a Facebook assessment until I had evidence it worked for my organization. There needs to be a track record of this working before you use it. I don’t think the track record is there yet.”