In the digital age, a candidate’s online presence can reveal significant red flags. To help you navigate this complex issue, we’ve gathered insights from HR professionals and top executives. From identifying discriminatory online behavior to discovering dishonesty and conflicting info, here are key insights to consider when evaluating a candidate’s online presence.

Verifying Resume and LinkedIn Discrepancies

A point is made to look out for discrepancies in the resume provided, compared to the experience listed on the LinkedIn account. It’s surprising how often people will completely make up past jobs when applying for a new one.

While it’s normal for resumes to look a little different from LinkedIn profiles (usually, it’s people omitting irrelevant jobs from their resume when applying to a certain job), there really shouldn’t ever be experience listed on a resume that isn’t also listed on LinkedIn.

When this is seen, it’s an instant red flag that the candidate is lying about their experience and qualifications. At that point, either the candidate is removed going forward or, if further into the process, they are asked about it—as well as asked for their “employer’s” contact information to verify.

Brittany Mendez

Identifying Discriminatory Online Behavior

Discriminatory and offensive behavior in candidates’ online presence is a red flag that employers should scrutinize. Unprofessional comments, lack of empathy or the use of inappropriate language are warning signs that should not be dismissed lightly.

Derogatory remarks targeted at individuals or communities can be deeply concerning, as they not only reflect poorly on the candidate but also pose a potential threat to the company’s reputation and culture.

If such signs are seen during the interview, engaging in an open and non-confrontational conversation about their online presence can provide valuable insights into their self-awareness and willingness to learn from their mistakes.

Ultimately, if the candidate’s online behavior raises serious concerns about their ability to work respectfully and collaboratively within the organization, it may be necessary to explore other candidates who better align with the company’s principles.

Divvya Desai
HR, Naman HR

Considering Age of Inappropriate Posts

We try not to dig too deeply into our candidates’ online presence. If you dig deep enough on anyone born after 1980, you’re likely to find something inappropriate from their youth.

We used to have a zero-tolerance policy for anything inappropriate on social media—until we had to let one of our best new hires go for a 10-year-old post they made when they were 14. We do still care about recent and frequent social media activity, though.

People who post a lot on social media about hot-button political topics can be concerning, but what we really look out for is inappropriate, hateful or illegal speech or behavior, especially things like drug use.

Nick Valentino
VP of Market Operations, Bellhop

Discussing Excessive Partying in the Interview

An individual’s online presence can offer helpful insights during candidate assessment. One red flag I note is excessive late-night partying or clubbing on social media platforms. It’s not about their choice of leisure, but it could show a lack of discipline or professionalism.

When I encounter such a scenario, it raises concerns about their productivity, especially in the early days of the week. However, avoiding jumping to conclusions based on this single factor is essential. Instead, consider discussing the topic during the interview, delicately addressing my observations.

This gives the candidate a chance to explain the context behind these images and reassures me of their commitment to their professional responsibilities. Understanding the entire picture is key to making a balanced evaluation.

Shane McEvoy
MD, Flycast Media

Observing Aggressive Private Online Communication

Trust your intuition. Study the candidate’s social media profiles, but understand that some people don’t fill them out or post content regularly, which is fine. Assess the online presence in its entirety. If it gives you the impression of a toxic personality, it’s a bad sign.

Observe how candidates behave in private online communication (e.g., when you agree on an interview date, or discuss preliminary terms). For us, most red flags appear at this point. One-word questions that sound aggressive (Compensation? Social package?), or when they attack the recruiter, are warning signs.

In nine cases out of ten, when there was something worrying about the candidate during the hiring process, it turned out to be a poor fit for the role.

Daria Erina
Managing Director, Linked Helper

Understanding Unprofessional Online Interview Behavior

A candidate’s online presence reflects their character and judgment. One of the biggest red flags for me, while interviewing candidates online, is unprofessional behavior. This can be seen through how they dress, the language they use while answering questions, etc.

Unprofessional behavior shows a lack of a sense of responsibility. Usually, when I find candidates with unappealing behavior, I go forward with the interview to find out the reason. If the interviewee will change, it is considered.

Faizan Khan
Sr. Content Marketing Specialist, UBUY Australia

Looking for Inconsistent Candidate Information

Another red flag to watch out for is inconsistencies in the information provided by the candidate. This can include contradictory claims about their qualifications, work experience or achievements. Inconsistent information may show a lack of honesty or integrity, which could be a cause for concern.

Verify the information: Double-check the accuracy of the information and ensure that there are no misunderstandings or misinterpretations. This can involve reaching out to the candidate for clarification or conducting further research.

Vincent Zhu
CEO and Founder, ShineACS Locks

Addressing Shared Offensive Content

A major red flag in a candidate’s online presence is the sharing of inappropriate or offensive content. This suggests a lack of judgment and respect for diversity.

Upon discovering this, I’ll address it in the interview, asking the candidate to elaborate on the context. This helps me gauge their level of responsibility and potential fit within our team culture.

Span Chen
Growth Director, Notta

Encountering Confidential Information Posts

One red flag is the posting of confidential information from previous employers. It shows a lack of professionalism and respect for company policies.

If I encounter this, I’d discuss it with the candidate during the interview to understand their perspective while also emphasizing our company’s strict stance on confidentiality.

Farhan Advani
Director of Marketing, PhotoshopBuzz

Evaluating Negative Online Reviews

Negative online reviews or comments about a candidate can also be a red flag. This could be from previous employers, colleagues, or even clients. It is crucial to assess the validity and relevance of these reviews, as they can provide insights into a candidate’s work ethic, professionalism and ability to work well with others.

Evaluating the potential impact of the red flag on the candidate’s suitability for the position involves considering the role, the company’s values and the importance of the specific skills or qualifications in question. It is essential to have a balanced approach and not let one red flag overshadow other positive aspects of the candidate’s profile.

Ranee Zhang
VP of Growth, Airgram

Discovering Dishonesty and Conflicting Info

We look for honesty. Our company is remote, so we need to take candidates at their word. When information from their interview or on social media conflicts with what’s on the resume, we know we have a problem.

Our red flag is dishonesty, and when we discover this, it’s definitely something that we know we’ll have to discuss.

Maurice Harary
CEO, The Bid Lab