A Mixed Methods Examination of 21st Century Hiring Processes, Social Networking Sites, and Implicit Bias

Troy Elias, Laurie P. Honda, Megan Kimmel, JungWon Chun


General U.S. hiring practices have evolved with the emergence of online social networking sites (SNSs) despite a lag in formal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission mandates. This mixed methods study examines hiring professionals’ use of SNSs in hiring determinations across a variety of industries as well as within advertising agencies specifically. The latter of which focuses primarily on hiring procedures for account executives. Online survey data from 300 hiring professionals demonstrate reliance upon SNSs during various stages of the hiring process for candidate hiring and rejection, and interview data from 12 agency hiring professionals across the U.S. reveal similar findings in the ad industry. Within the ad industry, which is actively trying to recruit and retain a diverse workforce, a shift appears to have occurred away from hiring professionals’ explicit biases to implicit biases against racial and ethnic minority candidates whose demographic information is often publicly displayed via their digital footprints. Managerial implications for impression formation, implicit bias, and third person effects in the hiring and retention of minority employees in the ad industry are discussed.


Advertising; social networking sites (SNSs); LinkedIn; impression formation; implicit bias; third person effect

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