This can be a hot topic, so understand that the opinions I am about to lay out are mine and mine alone. I don’t speak for the Five O’Clock Club on this, nor do I speak for Bio Careers.
At a recent conference for career professionals where I was teaching a workshop, I was asked a question about social media…the question was:
“How do you prepare job seekers to handle the part of the interview when they are asked by the interviewer to log into their facebook account?”
My answer was pretty direct – I replied that I always tell my jobseekers to politely decline.
Although the legality of being asked is fuzzy and always being argued about, I remind my jobseekers that they are under no real obligation to share their online personal life with anyone they don’t choose to share it with, and they have every right to politely say NO.
Now, if you really don’t mind a stranger looking at your FB timeline, and want to please the interviewer, by all means go ahead, that is up to you and is your judgment call to make. Just be aware that complying can hurt your chances as much or more than polite refusal.
Obviously, anything you type or post a picture of can and will be used against you. Remember, although social media is the neat new thing, hiring authorities haven’t changed – they still look for ways to screen people out, not include people in.
For those of you looking for a way to handle the question while not killing your candidacy, here are some polite ways to say no, while moving the process forward:
1. “I expect my candidacy to be judged on how well my personality and experiences meshes with your position and organizational direction, not my personal life. I must politely decline your request, can we continue discussing the position?”
2. “If I show you my facebook timeline, you will be privy to information that you are not legally allowed to use as hiring criteria. I’m not interested in exposing you guys to a lawsuit, but I am interested in the position, can we keep our focus on that please?”
After you ask the question, some form of “can we get back to talking about the position?” just shut up and sit there quietly…I mean this, there are some points in the discussion where the first person who talks usually loses.
Don’t over – explain, don’t apologize, just maintain resolve…any response other than “Oh yes, moving right along, let’s talk about the position,” and then actually discussing the position should send up a red flag, and you need to have your mind made up about this beforehand. If the interviewer pushes you (and he will), just re-affirm that you must decline his request, and just sit there…he gets one chance to back down, and continue the interview…if you keep getting pushed, stop the discussion, and you can do one of two things:
1. End the interview and leave or,
2. Ask to speak to someone in the company who is serious about interviewing you for the position.
I know I said I advocate politely declining, but this is for those instances where polite didn’t work, and you get cornered…which might happen.
Remember this people – even though the job search process means jumping through hoops held by other people, you are still an adult with a free will who has the authority to walk away from any nonsense that gets thrown at you. Other people have as much power over you as you give them, and hiring authorities are no exception.
The bottom line is, if you really feel that exposing your personal life to strangers is an invasion of your privacy, you will probably not like working for that organization, so just walking away is an honorable thing.
Not that there is any dishonor in compliance…economic realities do dictate how much we stand up for ourselves in these situations…just know ahead of time what the risks are, and take steps to modify your social media presence ahead of time.
As I mentioned at the outset, this is a hot topic, and there are a lot of opinions out there…these are the type of situations that come up under “live fire” conditions that require you to make a judgment call. If you know yourself and your boundaries before these questions arise, you should be able to make the decisions that work best for you.
Until next time, I wish you all the best.
Thomas Patrick Chuna is a certified Five O’Clock Club job search coach.
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