I want to believe that the latest corporate idiocy–some hiring managers asking for Facebook passwords from prospective hires for the purpose of “background screening” them–is some sort of urban legend. Having worked in the corporate world for quite a while, I have to concede a better-than-even chance that this is actually taking place.
The problem that almost anyone with a brain and twelve seconds to think about that issue (which excludes 75% of all corporate mid-rank managers I’ve ever worked with) has already pointed out is that even if the candidates willingly surrender their Facebook password, the hiring manager leaves the company open to slam-dunk discrimination lawsuits. If you go through a candidate’s Facebook page and read that she is gay, and you don’t hire her–can you prove that you didn’t pass her over because of her sexual orientation? How about a candidate’s religion or marital status?
Obviously, this is a bad idea all around from a legal perspective. But there’s another aspect, one that immediately occurred to this former IT monkey and network administrator before he even considered the discrimination angle:
Do you, as a hiring manager, want to hire people who are willing to surrender the password to their private information at the mere prospect of a paycheck? if they let you snoop around in their lives just because you may hire them, what do you think they’ll do with your confidential corporate information–your trade secrets, your network passwords, your financial information–when they have a more concrete incentive?
Of course, the employee pool these days is made up to a fair degree of people who have been conditioned to walk through metal detectors, wear see-through backpacks, and submit without question to the school resource officer and his friendly Constitutional expert Rover, so I imagine that most job candidates fresh out of college wouldn’t even blink at such a request. But I’m a pessimist when it comes to stuff like that, which has the advantage that a.) you’re right more often than the optimist, and b.) you can only be surprised positively.