In case you don’t recall, it was a board game that posed morally challenging questions such as “Would you return money you saw fall from an elderly person’s wallet if you were struggling to feed your family tonight?”
So, let me ask you this:
Imagine being in an interview; all is going well until the interviewer asks, “Do you use social media”?
Do you use social media? It doesn’t sound like a particularly worrisome or tricky question really. Some of the more paranoid among us may get a little prickly as to the relevance of that question in terms of the job being applied for, but generally this question wouldn’t necessarily raise any red flags.
Or does it?
It appears that for some employers, social media is a problem and its use has prompted the end of many a job seeker’s candidacy—one of whom for example, was cited as being a “security risk”.
Knowing this is a possibility, how do you answer that question?
Example 1: Offence is the Best Defence Strategy
“I refuse to give you the details of my online activities as it is irrelevant to this role and against the law to ask”.
So let’s look at this. An interviewer asks a seemingly innocent question for which you have no reason to believe there may or may not be an agenda behind it, and you respond by glaring at the interviewer, folding your arms antagonistically and stubbornly pleading the United States’ fifth amendment.
As a strategy, it’s not much of one.
It comes across defensive and angry; ordinarily not two of the most interview-winning attitudes. For all you know the employer has a social media savvy workplace and actively encourages involvement! The “offence is the best defence” strategy would qualify as the worst answer.
Example 2: The Philosophical Riddle—If I cannot find it, it doesn’t exist Strategy
Non-disclosure is seen as by some as a reasonably risk-free response. They cite that if the employer has Googled your name and hasn’t found anything because your social media activities are blocked from public view, then the “I don’t use social media” response requires the employer to prove that you do.
Clearly this has ethical issues, and could come back to bite you — very seriously — later. Regardless, the if-a-tree-falls-in-the-forest… philosophy is considered by some a low-risk answer that allows you to keep yourself in the running for a job, and keep your Facebook. If your use of Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and Flickr is only shared with friends and family, and you’re not using it to criticise your work, your colleagues or use it at work, then no harm, no foul. Right? Maybe. But no matter how you sugar coat it, you’ve mislead the interviewer and taken a risk with your future.
Example 3: The Half Truth Strategy
How do you feel about half-truths? Are you morally challenged if you cite the most palatable of social media networking such as the LinkedIn profile? After all, it’s likely that the person who is interviewing you has a presence on Linkedin, as it is a place where 34 million business people are represented. Are your scruples challenged if you provide truth by omission?
Example 4: The Truth, the Whole Truth Strategy
Here we come to the person with complete integrity who says, “Part of the job application process is stating the truth. If they have asked, you should remain truthful throughout the process even on insignificant things.”
So you smile, look your interviewer in the eye and say “I use social media to stay connected with friends and family. My Facebook is private and not for public viewing, nor is it work related”. This is undoubtedly the most mature, concise and internet savvy response. You remain uncompromised and feel good about yourself.
After the interview.
After the interview, you return home excited. The job is for you; you have the skills and strengths and the interview went like a dream. You told the whole truth and your integrity is intact.
And then the telephone rings from the agency. As much as you are a great candidate, unfortunately the employer considers you a security risk and they won’t be taking your application any further.
What do you do at your next interview?
Moral dilemmas. You never know when you’re going to be faced with one.