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Maybe a Facebook Photo of Someone Drinking a Beer Isn’t So Bad

by Jul 3, 2013, 2:27 pm ET

ncsuEmployers who screen out people because they’re pictured on Facebook drinking may be screening out perfectly fine people, according to one new study.

Lori Foster Thompson, a North Carolina State University psychology professor, co-authored a paper about Facebook screening. A Ph.D. student, Will Stoughton, is a lead author. “Companies are eliminating some conscientious job applicants based on erroneous assumptions regarding what social media behavior tells us about the applicants,” Stoughton says.

Being “conscientious” and “responsible” isn’t directly correlated, the study finds, to whether you’re captured on a social media site with a Corona.

The problem — weeding out people for perhaps the wrong reasons — is worse for companies looking to hire extroverts.

That’s because companies looking for extroverts to be salespeople are going to screen out people who are more likely to post drinking photos of themselves on Facebook.

The study did find that if you’re looking for people who are “agreeable” and “conscientious,” if candidates are flinging a lot of insults on Facebook, it’s a bad sign.

“If employers plan to keep using social media to screen job applicants, this study indicates they may want to focus on eliminating candidates who badmouth others — not necessarily those who post about drinking beer,” Stoughton says.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.