Benefits and Compensation

Best Practice for Internet Background Checks? Survey Says …

Of the survey respondents who conducted either Google searches or social media searches:

Concerned about learning too much online?

Twenty-six percent were concerned about learning too much (For example, a candidate’s gender, religion, or race.)

Have your hiring decisions been influenced by what you found online?

Forty-one percent have been positively influenced to hire based on information they found online, while twenty-six percent have turned down a candidate based on what they found online.

Do you visit candidates’ social media pages (e.g., FaceBook pages) as part of your background checking procedures?

Nineteen percent of respondents indicated that they did visit candidates’ social media pages.

Answer Options

Response Percent





Don’t Know


For those that do visit candidates’ social media pages, overwhelmingly the HR department does the search.

Who searches?

Response Percent

HR Department


Hiring Manager


Third party within the organization


Third party outside the organization


Of employers who search social media, most perform the search for finalists only.

For whom do you do a search?

Response Percent

All candidates


All those who are contacted


All finalists for the position


Only those to whom a job has been offered


“Other responses” included the following:

  • Applicants that have proceeded through the screening process up to F2F [face-to-face] interview.
  • Occasionally for office hires
  • Applicants that appear to be a potential candidate, but based on application/resume information, we feel there is reason to check them out a little further before going the next step in the consideration/interview process.

Very few (fewer than 1%) of those who conduct social media searches ask for the applicant’s social media password.

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Do you conduct a Google or similar search?

Of those who do a social media search, the vast majority (80.5 percent) also conduct a Google or similar search on candidates.

Of those who do not conduct social media searches, only about 23.6 percent conduct a Google or similar search.

Comments tended to indicate a “sometimes” approach to doing Google or similar searches, for example:

  • Not often but have done it
  • Some, not all
  • It depends on level of employee
  • I have done this occasionally once a candidate is on board, but not as a practice or rule
  • Not unless we have a suspicion that we need to
  • Not company policy to do so but will quickly look for any red flags

For which candidates is the Google or similar search performed?

Answer Options


All candidates


All those who are contacted


All finalists for the position


Only those to whom a job has been offered


Who performs the Google or similar search?

As with the social media searches, most Google or similar searches are performed by the HR Department.

Who performs the Google search?


HR Department


Hiring Manager


Third party within the organization


Third party outside the organization


Hiring with low salaries, Google searches and Internet background checks—yet another round of issues for compensation managers.

Setting up your organization’s flex policy? Worrying about internal equity? New ranges? Pay-for-performance? Wage and hour compliance?—challenges abound for every compensation manager.

You need a go-to resource, and our editors recommend the “everything-HR-in-one website,” As an example of what you will find, here are some policy recommendations concerning red-circle rates, excerpted from the website:

Red-circle rates are another story. Obviously, cutting the pay of an employee will not do much to gain acceptance for the new wage program, so alternatives have to be considered.

  • One alternative is to “grandfather” the employee; this means allowing the employee to stay above the maximum until the person is promoted, terminated, or retired.
  • Another approach is to freeze the employee at that red-circle rate until adjustments to the rate range finally capture the employee’s rate back into the structure.
  • Still another approach is to increase the employee’s wage by only half of the adjustments made to the range, again, until the rate is captured.

A similar problem occurs with employees who are under- or overpaid in relation to actual performance. As defined, the minimum, midpoint, and maximum rates are each definitions of pay for specific levels of performance. So an employee performing 80 percent of the job duties at 80 percent efficiency under normal supervision and who is paid above the midpoint may have a pay rate similar to a red-circle rate except that it is within the rate range.

In this case, counseling and performance evaluation feedback are needed to bring performance in line with pay.

We should point out that this is just one of hundreds of analyses, checklists, training materials, job descriptions, and sample policies on the site.

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