In March, an Associated Press (AP) story sparked outrage and outright pandemonium across the Web.   It anecdotally highlighted the practice by some companies of asking for a candidate’s Facebook password during the interview.

Candidates tweeted their reactions. Facebook threatened to sue to protect their customers’ privacy.  The ACLU called the practice an “egregious privacy violation, comparable to poking around in your house….”.   Politicians held press conferences asking the Justice Department and the EEOC to investigate.  They also promised legislation to halt the practice.

But is there really a “practice”?  Is the request widespread, or is the pandemonium being created on the back of a few dated stories told over and over again?

There is little evidence to suggest that this practice is widespread.  Even one of the writers, Manuel Valdes, who was interviewed by the Hartford Courant, stated that he was not trying to claim that the practice was widespread.

After researching for the article, Valdes came away with “a sense” that the practice is more prevalent for government agencies, especially for those candidates applying for jobs as police officers, 911 dispatchers or correction officers.  It is important to remember, he pointed out, that many applicants for those types of jobs are subjected to complete psychological evaluations as well as intensive background searches.  The practice does happen occasionally in private companies, but the “key” word is occasionally.

Everyone has an interview horror story.  There is even a website dedicated to the topic…, and – guess what – the story of asking for Facebook passwords is located front and center on the home page.

The point is that somewhere – out there – someone has been asked for their Facebook password or been asked to log on to Facebook during the actual interview or been asked to “friend” a company manager or been asked to write down your password on an actual application.

You could be asked too, but if you are interviewing for a job in a non-governmental company, the chances are not likely.  If you are asked, whether or not you decide to comply – or not- is a personal decision.  Many people feel that complying is “no big deal” if you have nothing to hide and that employers have the right to ask for this type of information.  However, many people feel that the request violates their privacy and that refusing is a point of principal.

The idea is that you must make the decision based on your viewpoints and opinions – not on an anecdotal story that morphed into a trend by being passed around on the Web.  A company that requests your social media passwords during the interview is giving you a huge hint about their corporate culture.  If they request your private information during the interview ,they will – more than likely – also have mechanisms in place to monitor your email or any other company-provided piece of technology (cell phones, tablets, etc).  This then becomes a cultural fit issue.  Do the policies and procedures that this company has put in place jive with your lifeview?  If it does not, then this company will not be a good fit for you.

For more information on all things job-seeking, check out our Candidate Resource Hub on the Snelling website.  Here you can find all kinds of information on writing the perfect resume, interviewing tips and tricks, social media best practices during the job hunt and general career strategy information.

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