Facing your Facebook Account at Interview

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

So you have gotten the interview, you answered the questions well and feeling confident - then your interviewer asks you for your password to Facebook. 

Yes, you heard right, be prepared as this question is sometimes being asked. So how to protect your right to privacy but still remain in the running for the role? 

Recent statistics have suggested that approx 95% of employers will search for applicants online during the recruiting process. More recently it has emerged that some employers are now asking their applicants for their Facebook passwords. Could you imagine a job interview where you were asked to for your password? 

Asking an applicant for a password is not without potential implications for companies - Maryland in the United States recently became the first state to ban employers from requesting social media passwords. If a Facebook page includes information on race, gender. etc, this could expose the employer to potential accusations of a discriminatory recruitment process. 

So how do you protect your right to privacy but still remain in the running for the role? Here are some potential ways to approach the questions which will allow you to make your opinion known in a polite and professional manner for instance, 

“I would never give out my work email and network passwords to anyone, I make it a personal and professional policy to keep all of my passwords private and secure. However, please feel free to look at my public profile” 

“My LinkedIn profile is a great place for you to review my online presence” 

Let them know that while you are very interested in the position, however, you feel that the request is a breach of privacy and also a potential legal breach of the Facebook terms of service. 

Might be no harm to also ask “Is it something that is required to move forward with the job interview?” You will then know where you stand. Advise that you need to digest this request and will revert shortly on this. 

There are some steps that can be taken to reduce your online visibility to potential employers, such as using a nickname for your facebook account, disabling the public web search on your Facebook profile which will reduce the likelihood of your Facebook account showing up in a Google search. 

Now you know that it is okay to take a stand and say “no” when asked for your social networking passwords. It is ultimately up to you to decide what you are comfortable with. The most important piece of information I can give you is to watch out how you deliver this “no”. Try to play it down nicely as opposed to over asserting yourself and coming across as defensive. No need they may just be chancing their arm. 

Carmel Morrissey is a Career Coach with Clearview Coaching Group one of Irelands leading career coaching consultancies set up in 2004 to work with people who experience career disappointment. www.clearviewcoachgroup.com