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Pre-screening via Social Media – Employers Be Aware

There is definitely an ethical issue in our view. It’s nearly impossible to avoid social media these days; people looking for jobs and employers looking for people. Yes, organizations do have success recruiting beyond LinkedIn, like Facebook. People join like-minded groups, they LIKE company pages and stumble across friends and friends of friends who may share where they work. Individuals have the power to do some checking on their own, beyond Glassdoor, by finding out from those within, what its like to work in one company or another.

For employers, there is some risk. Whether your Human Resources department is responsible for sourcing and vetting all candidates through a centralized function – or department heads are left to their own devices – not knowing some rules put the organization at risk. There certainly may be adverse employment issues for off-duty conduct.

There is too often unconscious bias when managers are on their own. Companies who choose a 3rd party vendor to handle the social media screening are wise to do so. Still, we’re all human – and humans do what they are compelled to do.

Here’s just a few points of interest to be mindful of:

  • Be self-ware of any  unconscious bias if you are looking up a candidate when it is related to their private life.
  • If the information is not initiated or generated by the candidate, then they should not be held responsible.
  • Whatever you learn, may not be applied to a hiring decision.
  • Employers/Hiring managers should focus only on the relevance of the job.
  • Candidates should be informed upon application that social media is one of the resources used for research.
  • The top social media outlets used for recruiting candidates are: Facebook; Twitter; Instagram: Google+ LinkedIn; Pinterest
  • If you are using social media to screen candidates – be consistent about at which point you will do so: pre-interview or post-interview.

And yes, do vet your candidates – once you’ve identified them as a viable candidate. Social media is a resource not going away – and it can will help you. Just be cautious. Employers should develop a clear policy regarding the use of social media in their recruitment processes.

Here’s an article from CareerBuilder that may shed a bit more light.









While at a café in San Diego area recently (I will not disclose the name) I happen to overhear and then was quickly drawn to the following. I was reliving the countless experiences  I’ve had over the years – of listening to and later training hiring managers on interview best practices.


Observations at a Café: 


Managing Owner escorts a young woman outside on their patio for an interview. There were plenty of open tables but he decided to sit at the one right next to me. When I realized what was about to happen, I moved a few tables away.

In less than 30 minutes I easily overheard, I’ve learned the following about this man – the managing owner

‘He worked for large corporate catering organizations on both the east and west coasts. He and brother on same field pursued this cafe...

Over the years he’s been married and I heard just a bit about what his wife does for a living. He’s also had to quit drinking and that was a good thing. While he introduced himself saying “I’d like to hear about YOU first”, I was eagerly waiting hear the same.

The only thing I did hear from ‘her’ was:

  • “ah ha
  • yeah right
  • makes sense
  • sounds exciting”

Basically the interview has told her everything he’s looking for in a new manager. He’s told her what he needs…and now she can talk to those – since he spelled them out for her. But in the end, I never heard any explanation of anything/

There was a pleasant enough exchange between the two of them, but there was no probing into background, no questions of each other, schedules, conflicts, Etc. Maybe he was just relying on her resume as actual proof of the pudding?! So I decide I would just go about enjoying my breakfast croissant along this beautiful hillside my breakfast and  the fragrance of early morning flowers – quietly and continue to observe (in hearing distance). Lets see how this plays out.


PART TWO (25 minutes later)

I’ve learned this is a management role to help with the growth.

More commentary by the owner:

  • “I like you
  • when I was drinking
  • my sister …
  • I’ll have to email my brother and tell him about you
  • when my parents died
  • I’m excited to meet you
  • this should work out well
  • here’s my card.”


  • “I like you, too
  • my roommate drank too much
  • I’m excited to be coming on board.”

I gathered this was a first interview. It was done in 25 minutes; for a management position; outside next to café customers; and I learned so much about the owner. What did I learn about this candidate? Well, she was pretty. Very agreeable. Based on interviewer commentary, likely had relevant experience. Likes wine.

Scenario sound familiar? What are you doing to evaluate those who apply to be a part of your organization?

There was nothing inappropriate or even illegal about what I overheard. There was more disclosure of personal issues of the owner but no similar questions asked of the candidate. In fact, there were no relevant questions asked of the candidate that I ever heard. Just polite back and forth conversation amounting to knowing ZERO about how she may have handled prior situations, conflicts, why she left past jobs, why she was looking there, her salary requirements… NADA. She left there and thought she had a job offer.

So there’s another side to this subliminal message – regardless of the lack on interviewing skills of this hiring authority, here is what he may face:

  1. Since he really knows nothing about her, he may hire someone that he will soon need to let go because she’s not a fit for his café business.
  2. She may be actively interviewing with other venues but he wouldn’t know that or realize where she’s at in her job search.
  3. He’s not even mentioned her references and God Forbid, he hires her without checking them.
  4. He gave her the impression that she has the job.
  5. Maybe she thinks she has the job – goes back and quits one she currently has – then finds out she really doesn’t have the job and he’s hired someone else.
  6. The Impression of Offer can be hazardous for business. ‘Someone (the “promisor“) made a representation of fact which it could reasonably expect the other party to rely upon, that is, one party made a promise’ (taken in part from a legal publication

Do you or your managers need more training in this area?  This goes beyond legal ramifications but in proven interview techniques such as behavioral interviewing. Certainly food for thought!


Manage with knowledge & understanding.

Some food for thought – on HR understanding the business, from the point of view of those who are on the front lines, front of the house vs. back of the house, and all around. There’s a fairly recent story (below) we shared on Facebook about what Applebee’s is doing with on boarding their HR staffers. And other stories/food for your thoughts are linked for your convenience.


How flexible is too flexible?



Many, many years ago I went through a few interview rounds with the House of Blues in Chicago (pre-opening), Morton’s Steakhouse and other nationally known restaurant/hospitality organizations. The expectations of any director of HR/Recruitment were many, but first and foremost was being more than just exposed to the front lines and back doors of these venues. Most often, on site and firsthand knowledge, empathy and experience would be gained by actually participating in the work. That would include the prep, presentation and beyond. Most often, assignments would at one select location for approx. 4 weeks, full-time. This – is a good thing, in many cases.

Eventually, I would be hired by the Levy Restaurants organization, Sports & Entertainment Division (Sept. 1997). My first month was spent on the road with the Levy Management Academy., starting with the Kiel Center in St. Louis, to learn how a seasonal sports arena operates pre-season, from hiring, training and beyond. In fact, an annual event I happen to be involved with was their chef’s challenge. It was a big deal event with awards, pomp and circumstance and all that. Granted, what those of us in management faced at McCormick Place (where I was hired to manage HR and training) was a completely different animal than a sports/entertainment venue where season after season, the same rules and practices would apply.

After the 1st week out-of-town, I returned to Chicago to be involved in gaining knowledge of all the fine dining locations that Levy ran, including the others that were part of my division – Wrigley Field included. In the midst of all this, I was involved and gained knowledge of purchasing, chef training, menu planning, and intense classes on diversity and harassment from the management perspective. This was a very well-rounded and structured experience for anyone approaching management roles in a multi-unit and national organization. And as a closing thought – learning how to deal with the consumers/customers of these organizations, is an added bonus for the overall experience.

Levy Restaurants

And so it goes, I’d love to hear about other organizations doing similar things for their HR or other management inductees.

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