Would You Give Out Your Facebook Password in a Job Interview?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

As much as most Americans might like to think that their social networking profiles are part of their personal life, increasingly that’s not the case. In one recent survey, 91 percent of employers said they've used social networking sites to screen job applicants. What's more, over two-thirds of employers said they’d rejected a candidate because of their online profile. At some workplaces, the screening goes even farther: it is no longer unheard of for an employer to even ask a potential employee for his or her Facebook password. Are these practices fair? And are they legal?

Chris Kukulski is city manager of Bozeman, Montana. He tells The Takeaway why the city used to ask new hires to fill out a form providing the usernames and passwords to their social networking accounts — and why it stopped that practice. Chandlee Bryan is a career coach, former recruiter, and author of the “Twitter Job Search Guide.”


Chandlee Bryan

Produced by:

Ben Bradford and Mythili Rao

Comments [5]


No way. If they need my password to access my content, that means I have privacy controls set up and it's none of their business (plenty of people have their accounts completely locked down and don't even use their real names). If they want to visit my page, then anything I leave public is fair game, just like technically they could watch me walk down the street to see what I wear and what shops I go into (that's creepy, but technically public information). What's set to private is not. What's next, asking to tap my phones to see what I talk to friends and family about in private?

Unfortunately, these days jobs are so scarce that people may feel they have no choice but to provide this information to get a job, as this one job may be their only chance.

I once picked up a job application (for a summer job during college) that wanted me to sign something allowing them to access my medical records (it was NOT even a physical sort of job, and this was simply the initial application). The app went into the trash as soon as I got home-- even at 19 or 20 I knew that kind of invasion of privacy just to get an *interview* was ridiculous. I had nothing to hide, but someone I didn't even know and who may not even call me for an interview had no reason to know when my last pap smear was and whether my cholesterol was high according to my most recent bloodwork, just so I could work a cash register. (I usually didn't even provide my social security number; I'd just write something like "will provide upon offer of employment." I saw too many places where job apps just get tossed on a desk or counter somewhere, where anyone can access them. It may have cost me interviews, but at least never my identity.)

Mar. 23 2012 08:33 AM
homebuilding from Oklahoma

This is an advanced and accelerated recipe for tyranny. I cannot believe that ANYONE would submit to such an outrageous request/demand.

I can assure you that any employer who demands this of employees will face almost immediate boycott from freedom-loving citizens.

Long ago (well before widespread internet usage), I was arguing about the value of gun registration with friends who thought it was totalitarianism. I suggested that paying off ONE person at "Field and Stream" magazine would yield a good percentage of gun owners (from the subscription address list)

Somehow, a very large number of folks have been seduced by our electronic gizmos, electronic capabilities, and our fancyfones

I will not participate


Mar. 22 2012 10:41 AM
JP Dempsey from Neptune, NJ

Keep in mind that not only are they interviewing you, but you are interviewing them! So,if they want my password, then I'd ask for the social media passwords of my potential boss and all those who I'd be working with in my department.

Mar. 22 2012 08:48 AM
Scott Lambert from Troy, MI

I'd walk right out of any interview if they asked me for my Facebook password. What if I tell my interviewer that I don't have a Facebook account? There are reasons why people are allowed to have lives, opinions and thoughts that don't fit within their place of employment. It is enough that our behavior is monitored and scrutinized while we work. What's next? Our voicemail password? Our ATM pins? What information can be gathered from Facebook that I can't be asked directly?

Mar. 22 2012 08:33 AM
Richard White from Dover MA

If an employer wants my Facebook information they can always send me a friend request. I think disclosure should be a mutual process.
But if I were an employer I would not hire someone who was willing to divulge their password. That shows very bad judgment.

Mar. 22 2012 08:29 AM

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