One of the benefits of information being so readily available online these days it that it takes some of the mystery out of hiring employees. Everyone puts their best face forward in an interview but how is a Business Owner or Manager to really know who it is they are hiring? Conveniently, the advent of social media and the electronic postings of public records makes things much simpler. It allows a Business Owner or Manager to observe a perspective employee in their “Natural Habitat” so to speak. Since the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, a few searches on the internet can answer a lot of questions for you. The bonus is that a constructive internet search can in some instances uncover information an employer giving an interview would think or feel inappropriate to ask in such a structured environment.
No, you wouldn’t normally ask these questions in an interview, and you shouldn’t. However, the answers to the interview questions you would normally never dream of asking may be out there, for you to view, for free.
As a business owner, you have a responsibility to do some due diligence on employees prior to hiring them. Especially if they will hold positions that demand trust, accountability and expertise. Looking into someone’s background and character is especially important if employees will be working with a vulnerable population such as children or the elderly. Failure to do the simplest of investigations could potentially open you or your business up for liability if the employee makes errors or is dishonest while your employee.
Court Records are a matter of public information. While in many cases an individual applying for a job only must disclose felonies they have been convicted of, court records will show all the records they are not required to disclose. Does the candidate have a restraining order on them for harassing another person? Are they paying their child support as ordered? Do they have issues with DWIs? Do they owe money to others or have they had garnishments? Do they pay their parking tickets? While there are always two sides to every story, and certainly many of us have been pulled over for one thing or another, there is the issue of behavior, or at least patterns of it. Take a close look at a person’s court records. Are they careless? Do they act responsibly to those who depend on them most? Do they make good choices? Do they learn from mistakes?
The Internet and Social Media
Google search a person’s name and often you will get information on the social media sites the individuals have accounts at. You might also be able to pull up pictures of the person by clicking on “images” in Google. What is this potential employee putting up on the internet for the entire world to see? Are they private with their personal life or is all out there for consumption? Do they understand the difference between professional and private?
Instagram- A personal life is a personal life, but do they keep it private? Is their Instagram viewable for the world to see? If so, is it appropriate for the masses? Have they posted anything that you would be embarrassed for one of your clients to see or know about one of your employees?
Facebook- Again, private or not? If not, anything unprofessional or that might make you or your clients uncomfortable? What or who are they re-posting?
Twitter- Read this one carefully. Who and what are they talking about? Are the informed? Respectful? Kind? Intelligent? Appropriate? Helpful? Full of rage?
LinkedIn-Are they on a professional site? If so, are they in fact, professional? Does the profile picture seem appropriate or Is it a selfie in a bathroom? Are their sunglasses on? Do they have a shirt on? Do the references and education match the resume they sent you? Who are they linked to? How serious do they seem take a “professional networking site”? Is it a job tool or a “hook up” tool?
People are authentically themselves when they think no one is looking. At the end of the day, if a perspective candidate isn’t mature or savvy enough to protect their personal life from the public, (that’s some valuable insight right there) are they at least leading a very public life that won’t cause you or your business damage?
Having a Professional Online Presence
Do they have a professional email address or is it ridiculous? For example, my personal email addresses have always incorporated the fact I am the “baby” of the family. It’s cute if I am emailing my Aunt or Mother. Not so much if I am emailing a perspective employer that I would like to take me seriously.
My professional email simply incorporates my last name and some initials. If I want to be taken seriously, that’s the email I give out. kbaby@hotmail, that one is for my friends and family. My point is, if HotPete69@gmail can’t be serious enough about his future to get a “professional” sounding email, don’t count on him being overly serious or energetic when it comes to fulfilling your business’s professional needs. (I realize 69 may be referring to a birth year… but as an employer, I should not have to justify it or make excuses for it in during the interview process)
Other Internet Red Flags
Random Postings- on any of these sites, look for how or if they talk about their current job. Are there copious quotes about how horrible it is to work? Is their boss a jerk? Is their company horrible? Are they taking selfies in the workplace with corporate paperwork visible on the desk? Do they make it public who they work for and what they do but also put up postings that use questionable language and post potentially divisive political opinions?
At the end of a few minutes of internet searching you will hopefully find that your future employee has a healthy respect for the law, good judgement and keeps their private life private. If not, be thankful you were able to find out prior to employing them.
Want to speak to an attorney or hiring professional regarding your particular set of circumstances? Give us a call at 505.715.5700 and Contact Us today to set up an appointment.