Job applicants reveal their real traits in social media comments

The true personality traits of job applicants are often more likely to be revealed by screening their social media posts, than through a face-to-face interview, researchers revealed in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

In their article – “Big Five Personality Traits Reflected in Job Applicants’ Social Media Postings” – the authors, from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, write that a job applicant’s social media content can reveal data on five key personality traits which may impact on their work performance.

The five traits include:

  • Extroversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Emotional stability
  • Openness to experience

Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA, Editor-in-Chief, said:

“Becoming aware that employment screening is being enhanced by information provided on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook may affect individuals’ choices of current posts by causing them to reflect on future consequences.”

The authors explain that job applicants and incumbents frequently use social media for personal communications, which gives employers an unfiltered glimpse of how they interact socially.

The researchers set out to determine whether 175 job applicants’ personality traits were truly reflected in their (self-reported) social medial postings.

The study found that extroverted candidates were more likely to have postings related to drugs and alcohol. Individuals low on agreeableness had a greater probability of engaging in online badmouthing behaviors.

The authors concluded “…results suggest that inferring certain personality characteristics from social media postings may be a viable area for further scientific study. It is hoped that the present results will be used to inform subsequent inquiry into the measurement of personality via social media.”

A study published in Search Engine Journal, in 2011 revealed that over 50% of employers said they looked at social media as a way of researching job applicants’ real traits.

Some employers actually ask job applicants to hand over their Facebook passwords. This is frowned upon by Facebook.