William Stoughton of North Carolina State University, lead author of a study published in Springer's Journal of Business and Psychology, found that this practice could be seen as a breach of privacy and create a negative impression of the company for potential employees.
This spying could even lead to law-suits.
In one experiment, Stoughton's research team, consisting of Drs. Lori Foster Thompson and Adam Meade, examined the reaction of applicants to prospective employers' reviewing their social networking websites.
In another part of the research, participants had to rate their experience with a proposed selection process through a simulated selection scenario.
In both cases, participants rated how they felt about their privacy being invaded and if the attractiveness of an organization was diminished because of such strategies.
The results demonstrate that applicants perceived pre-employment screening of social networking websites as an invasion of privacy, and might even consider suing an organization for it.
Such practices further reduce the attractiveness of an organization during various phases of the selection process.
It could even discourage candidates from accepting offers of employment if they interpret poor treatment of applicants as a preview or indication of how they would be dealt with as employees.
"Social network spying on job candidates could reduce the attractiveness of an organization during various phases of the selection process, especially if the applicant pool at large knows or suspects that the organization engages in such screening," Stoughton notes.
"Because internet message boards and social media provide easily accessible forums for job seekers to share their experiences and opinions with others, it is very easy for a soured applicant to affect others' perceptions of an organization," Stoughton added.
--ANI (Posted on 18-12-2013)