I have just recently been brought in as a technical adviser for my company's interview process. After taking a look at a stack of resumes I decided to google the people I was going to be interviewing. Is it appropriate to cancel interviews for qualified individuals if they seem like they will be a sexual harassment liability, judging by what they publicly post on social media sites?

  • 4
    Joe brings up a good point, although it is also something to consider that you may have a different demeanour when you are at work then when you are away/off. It may be unfair to judge these applicants based on their casual life (where people often say and do things they WOULD NEVER at work)
    – Mike
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 19:30
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    "where people often say and do things they WOULD NEVER at work" +1. The lines been blurred recently with social media. You simply can't discuss anything political or remotely sensitive without offending someone, even if a reasonable person wouldn't be. If you strongly support X position, it can and will been held against you by supporters of Y position. The only solution is to not use your real name, or have two accounts. One professional, one like $city.guy.rand() for anything not job related. I used to think that I shouldn't have to hide my opinion. I was wrong.
    – user29234
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 20:12
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    In my case, a supporter of Y position who was uninvolved with the conversation (but following me on twitter) took it to an extreme and went to upper management with cherrypicked out of context tweets. I wasn't even given a chance to defend myself, and from what I've been told by people familiar with the situation, any who actually knew me fought for my job.
    – user29234
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 20:16
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    Actually you should not do this you are opening up your self to the accusations of discrimination - your based in the USA which has some.
    – Pepone
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 20:39
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    Before you start cancelling interviews, be certain you have the right people identified on the social media sites. Lots of people share names with lots of other people, even in the same city. Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 21:10

3 Answers 3


"If they seem like they will be a sexual harassment liability"

From personal experience, things can be taken out of context. A comment that is literally against prejudice can (and has been) misconstrued if you only see half of the conversation.

To elaborate just a bit, a social media site like twitter, you're often only seeing a sentence at a time in a nonlinear conversation.

You're usually free to hire whoever you want to.

If you're going to do this, you need to read the entire profile, and replies to get said context. You should probably also get a second opinion if a qualified candidate is going to be taken out of the running for such a thing.

  • 5
    Excellent answer: Without context, people can come across very badly for an innocent comment. I'm very much in favour of equality, but if you saw some of my jokey conversations with a feminist friend you'd peg me as a complete chauvinist: the difference is that my friend knows the context (ie my personal views and our relationship). If it's on a public group, take it as a public opinion - if it's on a private profile (regardless of privacy settings) it's probably only intended for the eyes of friends and shouldn't be used to judge without other evidence.
    – Jon Story
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 23:50

I have just recently been brought in as a technical adviser for my company's interview process.

I'd stick to what you were tasked with and judge the candidates on their technical capabilities. Go crazy and Google them if you must, find their StackOverflow score and rank them by that if it makes you happy.

But consider the following:

Panel member: buck, we've narrowed it down to Foo and Bar for the job, which do you recommend?

buck: I'd say go with Foo.

Panel member: Ok, and because we need to be completely transparent, why do you recommend Foo over Bar?

buck: Well, I Googled Bar, and came across their twitter account, or as they are known their @Super_Bar_Master_420 and some of their opinions on women weren't in line with my own.

All of a sudden, you've gone outside of your original scope, potentially made the other panel members look bad, call in to question the whole process and depending on where you like expose them to liability.

You were "brought in as a technical adviser", so stick to rankings that are based on technical issues, otherwise you might not be invited back.


No looking at social media sites is a legal mine field in recruitment especially in the USA you have no HR/legal training and are according to your profile 17! there are massive areas of law that have yet to be tested in the USA which is why use of social media by hr is such a sensitive area.

Any sensible hr professional would see what you doing and have a heart attack – you would be lucky to not be fired on the spot – in fact the hr person who gave you this task would be lucky not to share your fate.

Stick strictly to your technical remit – or better still accept that you have made a serious error of judgement and remove you self from any involvement in recruiting.

Think what would happen if this got on the front page of gawker you’d be crucified

  • 2
    Don't know why this got downvoted to hell, he's right. Looking up a social media profile /is/ a minefield, especially if you're explicitly saying you do it.
    – user29234
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 22:05
  • Just curious about getting contacted by a recruiter on LinkedIn. I realize you should be on your best behavior on that site compared to personal sites, but with so many legal issues, it can't be completely exempt can it?
    – user8365
    Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 18:12
  • @evandentremont Is it because the author is going too far? Two people fired just because one of them looked at social media? Commented Mar 7, 2021 at 14:36

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