Facebook Profiles Predict Job Performance?

According to one study, a person's Facebook page can predict job performance more accurately than some personality tests. For the study, conducted by Northern Illinois University, the University of Evansville, and Auburn University, one faculty member and two students looked at Facebook profiles of 56 undergraduate students.

The Wall Street Journal summarizes the results:

"After spending roughly 10 minutes perusing each profile, including photos, wall posts, comments, education and hobbies, the raters answered a series of personality-related questions, such as 'Is this person dependable?' and 'How emotionally stable is this person?'

"Six months later, the researchers matched the ratings against employee evaluations from each of the students' supervisors. They found a strong correlation between job performance and the Facebook scores for traits such as conscientiousness, agreeability and intellectual curiosity.

"Raters generally gave favorable evaluations to students who traveled, had more friends and showed a wide range of hobbies and interests. Partying photos didn't necessarily count against a student; on the contrary, raters perceived the student as extroverted and friendly, says Don Kluemper, the lead researcher and a professor of management at Northern Illinois University."

Although employers may be intrigued about using Facebook as a screening tool, lawyers caution against making decisions that could be perceived as discriminatory. This is particularly an issue because employers can easily determine sex, race, religious beliefs, age, and other factors on a Facebook profile.

This is a small study, but the findings are interesting and may lay the groundwork for more research.

Discussion Starters:

  • Do you agree with the study findings? Why or why not?
  • How do you think a prospective employer would view your Facebook profile?
  • In addition to potential discrimination claims, what are other reasons that employers may want to avoid looking at applicants' Facebook profiles?