Imagine you are interviewing for a position at your dream company. You answered all the questions and solidified yourself as the best candidate for the position. However, the interviewer has one last topic to go over. They would like for you to give them your username and password to your Facebook account. What would you do?
In the last few months, there have been a number of news stories about employers asking job seekers for their passwords to social networking sites, specifically Facebook. While it has become standard practice for employers to learn more about job candidates through a simple Google search and by available public information on social networking websites, as a young professional currently applying for positions, I believe the practice of requesting passwords is taking it too far.
If a prospective employer pushes a computer in front of me during an interview and says, “Log in, please,” here are some possible actions I would consider:
- Find out if this is required to move forward in the application process;
- If the answer is yes, then evaluate what is more important to me: my privacy or the job; and
- Consider withdrawing my application if I decided my privacy was worth more than the possibility of employment with a company that would make such a request.
A few days ago, two members of Congress introduced a bill to ban this practice in the future. Maryland recently passed a bill banning potential employers from asking job seekers for their social media passwords. In addition, Facebook has spoken out against this practice, stating these requests are a direct violation of their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Companies also could put themselves at risk of lawsuits by viewing information that otherwise would not be revealed during the application process (e.g., marital status, religion, political party affiliation, etc.).
As a job seeker, I understand the importance of having your digital footprint in top shape to be positioned as a good applicant. Most of my personal/professional social networking profiles are public. However, asking for the passwords to my accounts is where I draw the line. While I make sure what I put online is “grandmother-approved,” I do not want to be judged based off what someone else posts on my Facebook wall or comments or direct messages from Twitter followers.
While I personally would not share this information, I can see why some applicants have done so, whether it was for the chance to land their ultimate dream job or because they have families to support and, in that moment, a potential income is more important than privacy.
If you were asked to hand over your password to an employer at your dream company, how would you handle the situation?