Facebook profiles predict job success

Next time you’re hiring, forget personality tests – just check out the applicant’s Facebook profile instead. It’s not just a good way of evaluating candidates, it seems, it’s actually one of the best.

“A lot of actions are taken based on Facebook profiles – people are hired, fired, suspended – but this is the first study to systematically examine whether using Facebook to help make such decisions has any validity,” says Don Kluemper, a professor of management at Northern Illinois University’s College of Business.

The researchers asked a group of subjects to complete a personality questionnaire commonly used by companies to gauge five key traits: conscientiousness, agreeableness, extraversion, emotional stability and openness.

They then asked three raters access to look at the subjects’Facebook profiles and rate them on the same criteria as the personality tests. For instance, while the subjects were asked to rate their agreement with the statement, “I am the life of the party”, the raters were asked “Is this person the life of the party?”

And, they found, the Facebook raters had a pretty good handle on the subjects they evaluated.

“Based upon other studies, we were able to conclude that after a five-minute perusal of a Facebook page, raters were able to answer questions regarding the subject about as reliably as would be expected of a significant other or close friend,” says Kluemper.

Some students who were employed six months later were followed up, and their supervisors asked to complete a performance evaluation.

Comparing those scores to the personality scores they found that the Facebook-derived scores provided a more accurate predictor of future job performance than the score derived from the self-evaluation.

“In five or 10 minutes, our raters could look at the tone of a subject’s wall post, note the number of friends they have, peruse their photos to see how social they were and assess their tastes in books and music. It’s a very rich source of information,” says Kluemper.

“Personality profile questionnaires are subject to people providing what they think is the socially acceptable answer. It’s harder to do that on Facebook – your friends will call you out.”