“Do you want to know how that applicant you just interviewed will actually perform on the job? Check out her Facebook profile” says Todd Wasserman on Mashable.com.
That’s the advice of a new study from the Northern Illinois University, the University of Evansville and Auburn University. The researchers recruited a group of four Facebook-savvy human resources professionals and students to evaluate the Facebook profiles of 56 users. The four perused each of the profiles for about 10 minutes each before grading them according to the so-called Big Five personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism).
Six months later, the researchers compared the evaluations of the 56 users’ work supervisors and found a strong correlation for traits including intellectual curiosity, agreeability and conscientiousness. The evalauations are, of course, subjective, but job seekers shouldn’t necessarily worry that they need to clean up their Facebook profile.
For instance, Don Kluemper, one of the authors of the study, says that contrary to popular belief, a picture of you partying won’t necessarily hurt your chances of getting hired. “I don’t think a picture of someone holding a beer adversely affected them, but [a picture of you] being drunk in a ditch somewhere might be a negative,” he says. Not surprisingly, pictures and references to traveling signaled openness to new experiences and adventurousness, while the number of friends you have indicates extroversion.
A second study also looked at evaluations drawn from Facebook profiles and academic success. Kluemper says that report, which included a larger sample (244) and found the profiles were an accurate predictor of GPAs. “We can predict academic success better than a standardized IQ test,” Kluemper says.
Despite the studies, Kluemper says that companies shouldn’t use Facebook to screen applicants, although, of course, many already do. Kluemper says there hasn’t been enough research yet to show a definitive connection between Facebook profiles and job performance. “This offers a shred of validation,” Kluemper says of his research. “But there are thousands of studies that show personality tests predict performance. More studies [on Facebook as an indicator of job performance] need to be done.”