PeopleLogic Business Solutions (P) Ltd.,

Social Media Background Checks 

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How would you know if a candidate is as credible as they seem? The obvious answer to that is that you go through their resume, interview them and get to know them a little. However, the reality of a candidate may differ from what they are like. 53% of resumes submitted by candidates contain at least one inaccuracy. This is why background checks have become a necessity. 


A regular background check will weed out unpleasant past incidents of illegal activities, criminal history and drug use. These are the big things that a candidate will try to hide. However, the devil is in the details when it comes to understanding the reality of a potential candidate. This is where social media background checks come into the picture. Many businesses are hesitant to conduct background checks on social media because they consider them to be an invasion of privacy. But with the right set of rules and guidelines in place, social media background checks can reveal a lot about candidates that can affect their chances of getting hired and how their presence will impact the organisation on the whole.



What is a social media background check? 

A social media background check involves an employer looking through a potential candidate’s social media profiles to examine their online activity. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram are the most common social media platforms that are closely inspected. While some companies perform a quick scan of the candidate’s profiles, others dig deep into social profiles, blogs and even the comments posted by a candidate. 

Information found on social media can confirm the details provided by the candidate. More importantly, it offers a great understanding of what the candidate is like and how they conduct themselves. This will help you decide whether or not the candidate is a good fit for your organisation. 

Some of the things to look out for at first glance are foul language, explicit comments or content, hate speech, racial remarks, illegal activities, etc. If a candidate indulges in any of these unacceptable activities, they are very obviously not the right fit.

Why use social media for background checks?

Interviews are a great way to understand a candidate’s work history and background. During an interview, you see them in a formal setting and the candidate is at their best behaviour which doesn’t reveal much about their personality and temperament. A thorough background check on social media will give you much-needed insight into the candidate’s behaviour and true nature. Are they outspoken and opinionated or diplomatic and demure? How actively do they post and comment and how radical are their comments, especially on important socio-political issues? How do they treat people on social media? The answers to these questions will help you make a well-informed hiring decision.

Social media background checks are extremely important when hiring for a client-facing role. The candidate you choose will interact with clients therefore it becomes necessary to understand their online communication. Some of the other things you can get an understanding of are: 

  • Is the candidate a culture fit?

Finding a candidate that fits into your organisation goes beyond skill and qualifications. You need to find someone who will complement the culture of your company and blend into it. A social media background check will offer you insight into how the candidate will respond to your company values, how they will interact with the team, and what is their attitude towards people in general. All of this will give you some insight into how the candidate will behave within the organisation. 

However, the downside to this is that you can very easily become biased towards or against a candidate. No candidate will completely align with your company values or personal beliefs. Therefore, let social media checks inform your decision instead of guiding it. Don’t let it become a primary factor that influences your hiring decision.


  • Insight into the candidate’s personal life  

An interview is great to gather information about a candidate’s work history and skills and you may even ask a couple of questions about their interests and hobbies but it isn’t enough. A social media background check will tell you who your candidates really are. Do they like to travel? Do they have a creative side? What are their hobbies? 

While these things may not sway your hiring decision, they will allow you to create a wholesome picture of the person you are considering. Moreover, if you decide to hire a candidate with the awareness of their other interests, you can create a better work experience for them. 

  • Candidate’s personal preferences and talents

A candidate is more than just the work they do. They may have skills that you’re not aware of. For example, you hire a candidate for their knowledge and skill in product development but through a social media check, you come across a blog that shows the candidate to be a talented writer. This is an additional skill that can be used. 

Similarly, every candidate will have personal interests and hobbies. If you have several employees who enjoy cooking, you can have a potluck lunch in the office as an activity. Or if you have employees who enjoy playing cricket, you can have a team-building exercise that involves a friendly match. These are things you will only understand when you do a social media check on your employees and potential candidates. 

  • Verification and Validation: Social media profiles can act as a source for verifying information provided on a resume. Previous employment details, educational background, or even certifications can be corroborated through a candidate’s online presence. This adds an extra layer of credibility to the information presented in the application materials.

Pros and Cons of social media background checks

Companies and candidates alike are split when it comes to the relevance of social media background checks. While some believe it to be a colossal waste of time and an invasion of privacy, others think of it as a handy tool for hiring. 


  • A thorough social media check will show you what a candidate is like and how well they will fit into your company’s culture. Alignment with the organisation’s values can also be assessed through a social media check. 
  • The public image of your employees can positively or negatively affect the image of your company. Employees that post offensive content on social media may be tracked back to their place of work and cause bad publicity for the company. 
  • Warning signs like erratic behaviour, explicit content, bullying, etc. can be tracked through a social media check. It may also reveal if the candidate may potentially cause friction amongst the existing staff. 
  • Tracking a candidate’s social media profiles is fairly simple. Most candidates share the links to their social media profiles in their resumes. 
  • You will get a glance into a candidate’s informal life through a social media check. It will reveal information that wasn’t otherwise shared and any hidden skills and talents will become evident. 
  • Many candidates exaggerate their skills and work life on their resumes. A social media background check will help you verify the information shared in the resume. You can cross-check professional experience and work history very easily.


  • Many companies and candidates think social media background checks are unnecessary and in fact an invasion of privacy. The question that comes up often is,  “how relevant is a candidate’s personal profile while making a hiring decision?” 
  • Social media background checks are also considered to be an unreliable source of candidate information. Just because a candidate can behave on social media, does not necessarily mean they are a great person to work with. 
  • Not all the information available on a social media channel is true. In fact, there may be a lot of incorrect information that could make its way into your decision-making, which isn’t fair to the candidate. Moreover, not all candidates are equally active on social media which makes it an unlevel playing field for all candidates. 
  • During a social media background check, you may come across information that is protected which could create a bias. There is also a possibility that you will find something about a candidate that you, personally, don’t like but it has no correlation with the position you are hiring for. This also creates an unfair bias that could mean you lose out on a great candidate. 
  • Candidates could think of social media background checks as an invasion of their personal space which could make your company less desirable as an employer and affect your employer brand. 
  • Conducting a social media background check is time-consuming and if you choose to deploy an internal resource for this activity, it could mean wasting resources and not getting the desired results. 

Navigating the Ethical Concerns:

The growing popularity of social media background checks has also raised concerns about privacy and potential bias.

  • Privacy Considerations: Recruiters must tread carefully when it comes to accessing a candidate’s online information. Focusing on public profiles and professional platforms like LinkedIn helps maintain boundaries. Private accounts or those with limited information should be left untouched. Additionally, it’s crucial to have a clear and documented social media screening policy outlining which information is relevant and what constitutes an off-limits search area.

  • Mitigating Bias: Social media profiles can reveal a candidate’s race, religion, or political views. Focusing on these aspects can lead to biased hiring decisions. Recruiters must remain focused on job-related information and avoid letting any personal biases influence their judgement. Developing a structured evaluation process and establishing a diverse interview panel can further minimise the risk of bias.

Effective Use of Social Media Background Checks:

  • Focus on Professional Profiles: Concentrate your search on LinkedIn profiles or public profiles on industry-specific platforms relevant to the position. This ensures you’re gathering information that directly relates to the candidate’s professional capabilities and avoids venturing into unrelated personal spaces.

  • Combine it with Traditional Methods: Social media background checks should be considered as one piece of the hiring puzzle, not the sole deciding factor. Integrate them with traditional background checks, reference checks, skills assessments, and in-depth interviews to build a holistic picture of the candidate.

  • Transparency and Communication: Be transparent about your use of social media background checks. Inform candidates during the application process that their public online profiles may be reviewed. This fosters trust and allows them to curate their professional online presence beforehand.

Like everything else, social media background checks have their benefits as well as drawbacks. You need to be sure that when using social media for a background check, you don’t allow any personal information to sway your decision. It needs to be used moderately and all the information must be processed with the context in mind.

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