Professionals Protect their Private Passwords

One of the stories buzzing around the internet right now is jobseekers being asked to supply their Facebook password during job interviews. American Public Media's Marketplace had a really good discussion on this week and Tuesday the ACLU fired off a declaration saying it's an invasion of privacy. Well yeah, of course it is. In the Marketplace story Kai Ryssdal brought up the bizarre fact that interviewers can't ask applicants if they have kids and yet somehow they can demand Facebook passwords. Very topsy-turvy.

A few of the blogs I follow provide insight into how to handle interviews and provide well crafted answers to tough questions such as salary requirements, short employment stints on resumes, how to discuss negative experiences without coming off as snake bitten, etc. I'm going to assume this practice will become illegal just the same as the kids question, but until that point, if prospective employer makes this request it seems that there are a few possible answers.

Simply saying no. This can go a couple ways, if you tell your interviewer you value your privacy and like to keep your professional life separate from your private life they could respect your moral stand and let it go. Of course if the position is in high demand they could possibly thank you for your time and call in the next interviewee. I'd like to think a company would understand a person who stands up for their rights is a better employee to have than one who cow-tails to an interviewer. Can you trust someone who gives up valuable information that quickly?

Log in for them and supervise their experience. Personally I would say no, but if I was backed into a corner in my job search this would be my only way of acquiescing. Giving up a password is to me akin to letting someone borrow a credit card. Serious damage can be done with that kind of information floating out there and just giving it over casually seems wrong and intrusive. Also, if this request is a must, supervising their foraging makes sure they keep to their intended purpose and don't do something inappropriate. Of course if a company says this not going to work, you can fight or you can say you are uncomfortable with this situation and leave.

Give it over. I would never do this but if your Facebook account is anything like mine it is pretty baron. I am trying to rid myself of Facebook as much as possible and only have a couple pictures and about 30 friends. Looking at my profile would be a waste of time. If an organization makes this request it shows an incredible amount of creepiness, and if you give over your password you will look pathetic. If I were a hiring manager I would almost make this request just to see the response.

I will not be searching for a new job any time soon but this discussion got me thinking and I thought I would give my insights. If you are on a job interview and this happens please politely say no and defend yourself professionally. Your life and your job are not one in the same.


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