Facebook versus Traditional Personality Tests

It’s not like Facebook is an “app” that was created for this purpose, right?  Most have seen the Facebook movie, and if you have not, the media has played the majority of it out anyway so you know the basic origins of the site.

In business, anyone in HR or recruiting (my line of work) has certainly taken a peak at a potential candidate profile here and there.  We do Google them for sure among other more formal things like reference checks.  You are doing reference checks before you hire someone, right?  Anyway, so much of this formerly non-regulated behavior is being regulated by requiring us to all have policies on what we do to rule candidates in and out and how we use social media.

Seems a half a billion people using something and everyone starts to take notice.  Go figure.  Why would it surprise you that studies are also being done.  Researchers from Northern Illinois University conducted a study finding that a brief, 5-10 minute review of a candidate’s Facebook page was actually a stronger predictor of job success than traditional personality tests.  Wow!

Well, the smart candidates went on and took off those unflattering pictures and racy comments or posts before they interviewed with that really conservative company (especially now that “timeline” is live on Facebook) long before they submitted their resumes.  However, what we once thought of as only a place to hang out and follow our friends, and “like” stuff, and share stuff about ourselves, now we apparently need to manage how others may see us.  No safe place to let your hair down anymore – and if you did, can you really get it OFF the Internet anyway.  If you posted something wild and crazy to someone’s wall other than your own, you have no ability to clean that up.

The researchers had a group of college students complete surveys of a personality measure called the International Personality Item Pool which assesses the Big Five personality traits.  These five traits are Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.  The researchers then trained evaluators to review Facebook pages of the college students.  Then the evaluators rated the students on the same Big Five personality traits.  The results revealed that their ratings were consistent with the participants’ own ratings.

Following a subset of participants from the first study who were employed six months later and received performance evaluation scores from their supervisors, researchers compared the results from both groups and saw that scanning Facebook was a more accurate predictor of job performance.

They suggested that the benefits of using social media websites like Facebook may provide a more honest representation of the individual than can be gained via a traditional personality test.

I think the bottom line here is to be careful (or at least think about) how you present yourself on the Internet via social media because what you find funny now may not be to your future employer – however, being yourself is an honest portrait of who you are so if they are uptight about it you might not want to work there anyway.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Life Lessons, Recruiting

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