Is a Facebook profile as important as a resume?

Donald Kluemper

Facebook can be used as a reliable job-screening tool because candidates have a hard time faking their personalities on social media, says Don Kluemper, assistant professor of management. — Photo: Jenny Fontaine

Facebook users show their faces. How they use the social network service reveals their personalities.

Don Kluemper, assistant professor of management, decodes the clues.

In one experiment, Kluemper (rhymes with temper) and two students looked at Facebook profiles of 56 college students with jobs. They looked for these “Big 5” personality traits: Were the students conscientious — and to what degree? Were they emotionally stable? Introverted? Disagreeable? Open to experience?

After spending about 10 minutes looking at each profile, including photos, wall posts, comments, education and hobbies, the researchers answered a series of personality-related questions, such as “Is this person dependable?” and “How emotionally stable is this person?”

Six months later, they matched their ratings against employee valuations from each of the students’ supervisors.

Their findings show that Facebook can be used as a reliable job-screening tool, said Kluemper, especially since candidates have a hard time faking their personalities in front of their friends.

They also found something else interesting. “Facebook ratings were a better predictor of GPA than other self-ratings and ratings on IQ tests put together,” he said.

News media picked up on the job performance part of the study and before they knew it, their work was on 1,500 media outlets. “The Chicago Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, and it exploded from that point,” Kluemper said.

He’s learned that employees turn to social media to get answers about prospective employees that they’re legally forbidden to ask, such as queries about marital status or sexual orientation.

His students reported that after job interviews, they sometimes receive “friend” requests from their interviewers.

“It’s a very trendy recruitment source,” he said.

Among the most useful findings of his research is evidence of deviant behavior by employees who harm others or steal from the company, for example.

“Incivility, a form of deviance, can be something subtle like giving cold looks, making others feel unwelcome, unwanted or uncomfortable,” Kluemper said.

People who are poorly treated are more likely to quit, and may reciprocate with deviant behavior of their own.

“Deviant workers cost companies billions of dollars a year,” he said.

Kluemper grew up in southern Indiana. He earned a bachelor’s degree in management and a master’s in criminology, both from Indiana State University, and a doctorate in organizational behavior from Oklahoma State University.

Over the next nine years he taught at Oklahoma State, Louisiana State and Northern Illinois University before joining UIC in 2013.

Recently he was named co-director of the Institute for Leadership Excellence and Development (ILEAD) in the College of Business Administration.

Kluemper lives in Aurora with his wife, Maria, a challenge course facilitator who runs team-building courses for companies, and their sons, Nicholas, 10, and Alexander, 8.

A 30-year martial arts enthusiast, he participates several times a week in Seizan Ryu Kempo Jujutsu.

Professor, rate thyself.
“I am highly conscientious, highly emotionally stable, moderately introverted, moderately disagreeable and moderately open to experience,” Kluemper replied.

He added parenthetically, “However, being high in conscientiousness and emotional stability is socially desirable, so even if I was low, I might report being high.”

To clarify, do you mean you might falsely report being high in conscientiousness and emotional stability, when you’re actually low, just to make yourself look better?

“You get it perfectly (though I was not implying that I am actually low in conscientiousness or emotional stability),” Kluemper said.

“I study personality test faking. Yes, some people fake personality tests and falsely report being high in socially desirable traits. So, if someone says they are conscientious, they are either conscientious OR not conscientious but giving you a socially desirable answer.

“Some of my work is in developing ways to tell the difference.”

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