Study: Facebook profile beats IQ test in predicting job performance

March 2, 2012 By Deborah Netburn

Can a person's Facebook profile reveal what kind of employee he or she might be? The answer is yes, and with unnerving accuracy, according to a new paper published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

And if you are smugly thinking to yourself, "I've carefully wiped my Facebook page of any incriminating photos, comments and wall posts," - well, it turns out you may still not have hidden your true nature from future employers: On a rating scale that examines key personality attributes that indicate future job success, you might get rated high in conscientiousness and possibly low on extroversion.

Other things a prospective employer might be able to glean from your Facebook profile is openness to new experiences (vacation pictures from a glacier off New Zealand), (are your friends constantly offering you words of comfort?) and (are you constantly arguing with "friends?").

In a series of two studies conducted by researchers at Northern Illinois University, the University of Evansville and Auburn University, six people with experience in human resources were asked to rate a sample of 500 people in terms of key personality traits using only the sample group's Facebook pages as a guideline.

The raters were told to spend roughly five to 10 minutes with each person's Facebook page, and work on the project for no longer than one and a half hours per day to avoid fatigue. They were asked to rate members of the sample group on what is known as the "Big Five" personality traits, which includes extroversion, , emotional stability, agreeableness and openness to new experiences. High scores on these traits are generally accepted by human resources managers as an indication of future good job performance.

Members of the sample group were asked to give a self-evaluation and took an . In one study, researchers followed up with the employers of people in the sample group six months after their personality traits were rated, to ask questions about job performance.

The researchers found that the raters were generally in agreement about the personality traits expressed in the sample group's Facebook page, and that their ratings correlated strongly with self-rated . More importantly, they also found that the Facebook ratings were a more accurate way of predicting a person's job performance than an IQ test.

Although the study does suggest that looking at a job applicant's Facebook page can prove useful for employers, Donald Kluemper, the lead researcher on the study, said employers need to tread carefully here.

A Facebook page can provide a lot of information that it would be illegal for an employer to ask of a candidate in a phone interview. For instance, a person's gender, race, age and whether they have a disability might all be visible on that person's Facebook page.

Still, a 2011 study conducted by the social media service Reppler found that 90 percent of recruiters and hiring managers look at an applicant's Facebook page whether they should or not.

"This was an effort to provide some evidence that checking on a person's Facebook page might be valuable and might be useful," Kluemper said. "But I wouldn't go so far as to say that one study should be used as a reason to start using in hiring.

"Any other selection tool that is out there has been studied hundreds of thousands of times. Basically, there needs to be a lot more work done in this area."

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1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 02, 2012

Because an irrational extrovert who goes wingsuit parajumping is more qualified than a recluse with an I.Q a standard deviation or two higher, but does't post pictures on Facebook...

People have some really weird ideas about what does and doesn't relate to reliability, skill, or potential.
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 02, 2012
Countries with no culture fall back on this kind of garbage. Red flag
1 / 5 (4) Mar 02, 2012
Also, the title is wrong, unless they had some objective survey of actual job performance.

Should say, "Facebook profile beats I.Q. in an HR manager's perception of future job performance".

After all, a hiring manager's irrational opinion of someone's performance just by looking at photos is not the same thing as their actual abilities.

Maybe we need to give I.Q. tests to the HR people in this survey, as well as the scientists who conducted it, seeing as how they clearly aren't as bright as they think they are.
1 / 5 (4) Mar 02, 2012
And another thing, it's almost impossible to find a "real" I.Q. test, even on the internet, without paying some expensive fee for it, or getting ripped off by an advertisement scam.

Personally, I was rated 122 verbal I.Q. by a clinical Psychologist last year.

About a week ago, I finally found a REAL Raven's squares test, and it was about 11p.m at night so I was tired, and it was a speed test, but I scored 122 there as well, but it was only 38 questions, which means that one mistake likely costs you half or more of an entire standard deviation.

I feel I've probably LOST something since 2002.

In 2002 I took several online tests through High I.Q. society and MENSA and rated 134 to 144, though they've since changed the way they do things. These were similar to Raven Squares, except they also involved rotating 2-d projections of 3-d objects with various color patterns, and predicting which rotation from a sample was a real possibility. There were many other puzzles as well.
1 / 5 (4) Mar 02, 2012
Anyway, said that to say this:

Biggest problems I've ever had at work or school, in this order:

1) Unethical practices by employer, managers, or co-workers.

2) OCD

3) Boredom. Normal jobs bore the hell out of me. No way around it.

4) I have a hard time dealing with instructions when a speaker, or writer, keeps interrupting their own self and going on rabbit trails. This is probably related to ADHD, but it could also be that some people's manner of speaking is so meandering and unfocused as to be confusing in itself.

5) Senior co-workers usually need my assistance with computer programs, even if they otherwise have 10 or 20 years more experience than me. I can use almost any software for anything, even if I don't know the material, because I learn visually and that's just how it is. When you get a job, and you have to "train" or "coach" someone who's been working in the field for 20 years, things are a bit warped...
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
I don't have a Facebook page. I am a complete mystery to them. Do I even exist? I type therefore I am - or am I???????
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
Have you guys considered that HR isn't all that interested in hiring you? For one thing, most companies have a huge applicant pool, and so their techniques don't need to work on everyone. Obviously Facebook isn't a perfect predictor. But it makes perfect sense that it can be used to get a sense of someone's personality, if that person happens to use Facebook frequently.
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
Just when did 'Emotional Stability' replace 'Neuroticism'???
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
If Facebook profiles are being used to evaluate job seekers, then job seekers should be loading their profiles with information emulating potentially "successful" employees. A new era of profile-spoofing and identity-emulation is in our futures.
not rated yet Mar 03, 2012
I can just see the 'self-help' books with tips on how to create the ultimate job winning facebook profile ;P
1 / 5 (5) Mar 03, 2012

Because an irrational extrovert who goes wingsuit parajumping is more qualified than a recluse with an I.Q a standard deviation or two higher, but does't post pictures on Facebook...

Yes, that's right. Getting along will get you farther in life than being smart. It's how it is, like it or not. Einstein would have made a terrible employee for a consulting or investment firm, and John von Neumann was so irresponsible that I wouldn't trust him with a penny of my money. Richard Feynman should have lasted about four seconds in any "real" job. Outside the lab, intelligence counts for very little.

People have some really weird ideas about what does and doesn't relate to reliability, skill, or potential.

No, they don't. You do.
not rated yet Mar 04, 2012
Am I missing something? I thought facebook profiles were only visible to non-friends if your privacy settings were left untouched (which implies either lack of discretion or stupidity to me). How can these employers view the profiles if they are supposed to be "private"?
not rated yet Mar 04, 2012
The same idea as the movie 'Eagle Eye' from 2008.

@praise139, you have more friends than you like to have.
1 / 5 (4) Mar 04, 2012
I am not surprised. Firstly, HR people, and especially those deciding whether to hire somebody, have a lifetime of experience in observing the traits that are important. Secondly, nobody has ever said that society, or especially the work place, is an environment where a higher IQ gives you an advantage.

The only things that really give you an advantage there are dishonesty, shrewdness, a conniving nature, excessive ambition and too much time to concoct schemes.

Ever since my childhood, I've heard and read that the society as a whole, favors those with an IQ of about 120-130. That equals those who had to work their butts off to get an MSc.

Truly smart people can't avoid seeing the ridiculous, the pathetic, the futile, and the injust, in just about anywhere they look. Of course, to make a career, you would have to embrace one or more of these, but this would be such a pretense and such a treason against your values that most don't even try.
1 / 5 (1) Mar 05, 2012
Because an irrational extrovert who goes wingsuit parajumping is more qualified than a recluse with an I.Q a standard deviation or two higher

Actually, he is. Even in science. I've sat in on interviews of a few of those 'reclusive' people with highest possible scores on all their university tests. They are completely unfit for such jobs. Science is a team sport. The days when you went into a cubicle alone and emerged 3 years later with a grand breakthrough are over (or reserved for those handful of people none of us number amongst - and those people you never meet in job interviews).

Intelligence helps, but it alone will not get you there.
not rated yet Mar 09, 2012
Ever since my childhood, I've heard and read that the society as a whole, favors those with an IQ of about 120-130.

That explains a lot. Apparently, I'm significantly above that (according to a derived score from age 12) and I do have significant problems behaving in society. It's not ADHD, or being too introverted, or not being able to be social, or any other nerd/geek stereotype. Hardly. I'm a social butterfly, play sports, had girlfriends, and I get along with almost everyone. I rarely let my intellectual nature run amok. I get the impression that I've been pretty successful at fooling most people that I am normal.

However, I am routinely unmotivated at work and frustrated with the general ignorance and incompetence of our species. Things that make me think are not what makes life difficult for me. Dealing with people is what makes life difficult. I try to find a balance between "fun" friends and "intellectual" friends and don't expect a lot of in between.

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