This past March, Facebook released this post, which announced the increase of employers asking potential employees to reveal their Facebook passwords and login information during an interview. Facebook Chief Privacy Officer, Erin Egan, advised Facebook users to protect their login information and not to give it so freely under these conditions. For some fields, specifically in the public sector (teachers, police officers, etc.) this type of information retrieving is commonplace. But for other fields, this is a new frontier. Either way, the legality of the issue has still not been sorted out and as it stands, an employer is legally allowed to ask you for this information. So what will you do?
There are two important factors to consider in this situation:
- Awareness: Be aware that an employer may ask you for your password, a.k.a do not be shocked when it happens. Employers may also simply ask you to login to your Facebook profile in front of them during an interview.
- Preparedness: Make a plan of action. This may be a “trick” question, simply meaning that part of this question may be how you handle it. So, come up with a plan to respond respectfully and professionally in the interview. See this Mashable article for suggestions on how to respond eloquently without giving up your password.
I feel strongly that it is not necessary to give my password information to anyone, especially to an employer. I would feel less opposed to logging in in front of them and showing my profile during the interview. However, I would first say something like, “I understand that as an employer, viewing my Facebook can help you understand if I am a good fit for your company or not. However, I have intentionally constructed my online image to keep my Facebook separate from my other social networks. I am not ashamed of my Facebook, nor is it is vastly different from the persona on my other networks; I just choose to post information on my Facebook profile that often would not be relevant to my professional life. For instance, my friends and I love to share hip hop music through our Facebook accounts, and many songs are often explicit and inappropriate for a professional setting.”
I would not mind showing my profile to an employer; what I am more concerned with is their rationale. Why do they need to see it? I would show it depending on 1) how badly I wanted the position, 2) how important I perceived it (showing my FB profile) to be in my gaining of the position, and 3) how my outlook aligned with the values of the company on this matter; this would depend on their rationale and sincerity around needing to see the FB profile.
This issue has been a hot topic in my classes at Western Washington University which is super helpful as many students are soon to be graduates and will face this dilemma in upcoming job searches. I definitely feel that placed in this situation, I would be able to maintain professionalism and respect for my myself and for the company I was interviewing with.