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Do Industry Hiring Managers Ask for Social Media Passwords?

Photo courtesy of Martin Magdalene via Flickr

By now, you have probably heard that some hiring managers ask job candidates to hand over passwords to their social platforms. What do people in the PR and marketing industries think about this hiring tactic, and is it something they employ?

We spoke with Steven Herron, director of sales and marketing at HyperDisk Marketing, Inc., and Christine Deussen, president of Deussen Global Communications, who seemed to hold the same opinion: asking job candidates for passwords to social media accounts is an invasion of privacy.

“It is a clear violation of privacy and an invasion into their personal lives,” Herron said. “We feel there are less intrusive methods for determining if an employee is the right fit for us.”

Both Herron and Deussen say it is not an interview method they will consider, and also say they do not caution employees on their personal use of social platforms.


“Deussen trusts its employees as responsible adults, who understand that anything digital has the potential to become public,” Deussen said.

Right now, she focuses on referrals, resume content, face-to-face interviews and reference checks, while Herron also incorporates LinkedIn into his hiring process.

“If we cannot determine a candidate’s philosophy, integrity and marketing acumen during their interview process, then seeing their social media will not have much effect on their decision to hire or not,” he said.

While Deussen does not yet search to see if candidates’ information is on social media platforms, she thinks it’s  fair game in the interviewing process if it’s open to the public.

“It gives insight into the candidate, and demonstrates their level of maturity and judgment. However, asking for access to a candidate’s private social media profiles would be, in my opinion, a grave invasion of privacy,” she said. “While inevitably employees’ personal lives and beliefs influence their work in many ways, it is up to the potential employee whether or not they wish to share these details.”


An example Deussen uses is that she likes to hire past athletes and dancers because they are disciplined and love to compete.

A firm knowledge of the English language is a requirement Herron thinks is top in the field, and he also says it’s important to have employees who work to achieve specific goals and objectives.

“With the advent of social media, the lines are blurring between marketing and public relations with many people not distinguishing between the two,” he said. “The challenge is to keep them as separate tools from the same tool box, yet know when each tool is appropriate to use.”


About Lisa Denten

Lisa Denten is the Social Media Manager of Cision U.S., where she leads social strategy, coordinates the blog editorial calendar and manages public relations campaigns. She regularly hosts Cision webinars, was chosen as a #FollowFriday guest on industry blog Spin Sucks, and has spoken on panels for Inbound Marketing Summit and Publicity Club of Chicago. She worked in the newspaper industry before joining Cision in 2008. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter at @lisaml15.

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