Can a Person’s Facebook Profile Predict Job Performance?

Last week, several mainstream media networks reported a new research finding about Facebook --- it can predict job candidates’ performance at work. What is this study about?  

The study recruited three raters (1 professor + 2 students) to evaluate the Facebook profiles of 56 college students with jobs. Six months later, these raters’ reports were compared with the employee evaluations conducted by the actual supervisors. The study found a strong correlation between those two sets of evaluations in “conscientiousness,” “agreeability” and “intellectual curiosity.”

In addition, profiles of “students who traveled, had more friends, and showed a wide range of hobbies and interests” received more favorable evaluations. Raters did not rate against students who posted partying pictures. Instead, raters perceived students with partying photos as “extroverted and friendly.”

I think this is an interesting study even though I have some concerns about the research design and the generalizability issue of the study. My question is can we draw a conclusion that Facebook profiles can predict job performance? The relationship exists when Facebook profiles are correlated with Facebook users’ personality and then when certain personality traits are correlated with job performance, as suggested by Dr. Don Kluemper (the principle investigator of this project at Northern Illinois University). It seems to me that certain “personality traits” are the true indicators of job performance. Facebook just provides a platform for job candidates to “show case” their true personality.

To think deeper, what do those research findings mean to HR managers and job seekers?

For HR managers, would it be better to just ask candidates to complete a personality test/assessment rather than checking their Facebook profiles? First of all, not everyone use Facebook or make their Facebook profiles public. Second, companies are taking a risk of screening candidates with their Facebook profiles because of the rich demographic information revealed on Facebook. If personality test and Facebook profile can yield similar results, why bother to take the risk?

For job seekers, it is important to know the job search tactics on social media. One must understand the mechanism of social media and use it for his/her advantage. What do you think?

References: 

The Wall Street Journal Video
 

The Fox News Video
 

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