The Social Interview

You’re being watched. Seriously! Right now, someone, somewhere, is looking at you through one of many social media lenses. <Err … Creepy> This is true for mostly everyone, but especially for those highly scouted candidates and active job seekers.


Times have changed and the information employers are using to identify, qualify and hire talent goes beyond that of a resume and a few interviews. I have seen it, I have done it and coached others on how to utilize it. I am guilty and use all the information available to help assess who I am recruiting. Technology and social media is changing the game and if it hasn’t already, it will impact your chances of getting recruited or landing that dream job. The bottom line is, it is making a difference, for better or for worse and it is purely in your control to dictate which.


Social media can be your friend. It can be your ace in the hole! If used correctly, it can make you more marketable. It is mainly free so if you choose to use it, take advantage of it!


Here are some tips.

– Be self-aware! Don’t be naive. That post from 2007 did not just disappear. Until you delete it, it is out there somewhere waiting to be read. Social media is one giant data storage unit. Everything posted, tagged, and liked/disliked is memorialized. It seems like a time consuming effort to revisit everything you ever posted but it is truly the only way to make sure your social media profile is what you want it to be.

– My profile is private! – Making your profile private works…Sort of. The information posted on these social sites is not owned by you. As soon as you post it, you give it to them. So while making your profile private may limit the audience who can view it, you are still sharing information and you should do so with the expectation that those who are not your “Friends/Contacts” can and will eventually be privy to it.

– Photos. So let’s start with your profile photo. This is the viewers’ first impression so make sure it is a good one. Keep it simple and neutral. Consider avoiding the following:

  • Memes
  • Drinking beer/Playing drinking games
  • Smoking (anything)
  • Crowd surfing
  • A giant friend pyramid. I mean who doesn’t love this, but no. Not for your profile picture!
  • Doing anything that causes a reasonable person to question your judgment
  • Anything with limited clothing (beach/boat photos)
  • Fancy cars or dollar bills
  • Weapons or the recent lion you hunted
  • Something odd

Some of these photos may have a place in your image gallery but don’t lead with it. You want to keep it as neutral as possible. Remember, it is ok to show your personality, interests, friends, and family. Once again, help the viewer get to know who you are, but don’t show them every facet of your life.

– Politics. One of the biggest topics this year. You may have strong beliefs and views on domestic and international politics. You are free to voice your opinions but do so at your own risk. I don’t want to deter free speech, but if you are going to speak freely, assess the actual benefit of doing so. Who is listening? Your best bet is to call your congressman/woman.

– Professional Networking. There are some great social media sites/apps built for recruiting and networking. What you advertise on your social media page should not be what you advertise on a professional networking site. If your intention for one of these sites is to build a professional profile and network, please take down those “Waking up on Monday’s like” memes, anything political, or anything erroneous to your career aspirations.

Sites like these should broadcast your experience. Detail is important so if you haven’t given your professional profile much attention, consider doing so because people are always looking. Keep the profile picture professional. Experience, education, hobbies, contact information all can be found on a well-written profile. Professional profiles also allow for reviews/recommendations. Ask for them because they will bolster your credibility.


There is a lot to cover when coaching our stakeholders on how to properly use social media. It is an equation that becomes more and more complex with new and emerging sites and apps. These are just a few tips that may help you reevaluate your current profile. The best piece of advice is to keep it simple and anticipate an audience. As a general rule of thumb, when in doubt, leave it out!

John Woronowich

John Woronowich is a Director with Russell Tobin leading the growth and development of the firm’s Charleston, South Carolina region.

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