What Social Media Says About a Job Applicant’s Personality

Can strangers accurately rate your personality based on your Facebook persona? If so, do those perceptions of your personality statistically predict job performance? In this study, trained evaluators viewed an individual’s Facebook page then completed a personality test, answering the questions about the individual, utilizing only their impressions from seeing the Facebook page.  The individuals themselves also took the same personality test answering the questions about their own personality.  In addition, the researchers obtained on-the-job performance ratings from the individuals’ supervisors.


Evaluators’ perceptions of individuals’ personalities based on their Facebook pages had some overlap with how individuals rated their own personalities, but they certainly didn’t agree 100%.  So they had some similar impressions and some unique impressions, as well.  A second study found that evaluator-rated personality was a slightly stronger predictor of job performance than an individual’s self-reported personality.  But the difference wasn’t that large in a practical sense. I have to wonder, if evaluator ratings of a candidate’s personality don’t predict job performance much more than a candidate completing a personality test about themselves, why add all of those work hours to the organization?  The time it takes a candidate to complete a personality test does not generally cost an organization anything.


This study is hopefully one of many to come on this topic. But there are many caveats to consider, including potential adverse impact, ever-changing Facebook privacy settings, and how to implement consistent processes when social networking is involved.

Kluemper, D. H., Rosen, P. A., & Mossholder, K. W. (2012).  Social Networking Websites, Personality Ratings, and the Organizational Context: More Than Meets the Eye?  Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 42, 1143-1172.