Thought for the Week: No Shortcut for Selection

"We made our employees sing at their interviews."– Jim Long, Media Pioneer

Employee selection and team-member selection are two of the hardest aspects of being an effective manager. Not only do you need to understand skillset and technical competencies, you are faced with additionally figuring out whether this person will add to the overall dynamics of your team. Determining personality and “fit” are the intangibles that drive leaders crazy and, in general, are something of a roll-of-the-dice even for the most skilled.

In order to apparently limit some of the “unknowns” in determining whether a person is a good fit or not, some employers and agencies have been asking applicants to provide their Facebook passwords as a condition of consideration for employment. From recent news, I can’t decide which disturbs me more—the fact that employers are actually asking for this information, or the fact that two U.S. Senators have had to ask Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether or not this practices violates federal law.


The fact that it’s even a question confuses me. An employer today cannot require you to provide your personal diary, nor the password to your personal email. They can’t ask to see the photo album from your latest vacation. They can’t ask you about your “relationship status” or which religious affiliation you claim or what bookmarks you have in your Internet browser at home.

So how can it even be possibly legit that you would provide your password to Facebook? The logical extension of this practice doesn’t even have to be taken to its extreme to be ridiculous. What about your iTunes playlist, or your “pins” on Pinterest? The links to the lame YouTube videos you watch? Your Netflix account? The list could conceivably go on and on

At the end of the day, managers have to make team selections based on their best available legitimate data, usually through the form of a resume (nearly useless), references (sometimes useless) and interviews (effective if done correctly). There’s not a short cut and there are no guarantees, which means you have to take your time, plan your approach, and get plenty of input from others to make a sound decision. Even then, you’re going to get it wrong sometimes. And I doubt that would change if you knew your applicant’s latest scores on Farmville.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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