SURVEY SAYS: Have You Googled a Co-Worker?

August 26, 2010 ( – This week I asked readers if they had ever “googled” an interview candidate or co-worker, and what they had discovered as a result?


Well, most of this week’s respondents hadn’t done so (56.4%).  On the other hand, that means that quite a few had.  Specifically, 37.6% said they had, and another 6% said “I’ll never tell”, which seems fair to include as a “yes.”

Of course, one can’t help but wonder what, if anything, those who had done so found out.  Fortunately, for the voyeurs among us, I asked; here’s a sampling:

It was helpful and there were no surprises!

Nothing too surprising.  But some names are so common that it’s hard to find info about them.  I, unfortunately, have a VERY uncommon name. 

I haven’t before, but might in the future.

“Sometimes verified what was stated on resume, gave info about address, phone number.  Was not a determining factor one way or the other. 

Doing a “”linked in”” search was more helpful, adding information about the candidate that maybe wasn’t on the resume.”

Absolutely and Always “Google” a candidate, even new staff at vendors.  No bad surprises, but one had a difference in her employment dates!  Plus, this can sometimes catch possible good things we may not  see….Little League coaching, college sports records, etc. 

There were, of course, some “real life” examples:

Not sure if it was helpful but did not find out anything I wish I hadn't.

I googled a temp we had once.  She wasn't very good and out of curiosity I googled her.  She also had a very amusing name.  The first thing I found was someone's blog that commented on how odd her name was.  It wasn't a friend of hers, just some guy that had found her name and decided to add her to his list of weirdest names.  We all got a laugh out of that.

One that found me on facebook that has some serious drama playing out in their life all over facebook... way too much information & seriously if I was employer - there is no way I would have hired this person.

Actually, yes I did find out something I wish I hadn't, and am sadder for that knowledge.

And also some cautionary notes:

Unless you're invited, how are you gonna defend that in a wrongful discharge or not-hired discrimination claim with "...I saw it on the net." Nevertheless, it's tempting.

Yes, I did find something I probably didn't need to know.

Not really helpful.  Fortunately I have not found out anything scary, but I suspect that will change with the "younger generation" who has been on social media for a longer period of time, including their high school years when they lack a filter. 

I haven't googled anyone but I have had others come share with me what they learned from googling someone.

Most who had done so found it of at least some benefit:

Very helpful in determining a candidate's qualifications, interests, etc.

With the advent of facebook and people still not aware of how to block their wall from outsiders, I have found fascinating information - the more we know ahead of time, the better to be prepared for the newbie's coming in.

Nothing surprising.  However, it could be a generational thing.  I have advised a recent college grad about cleaning up his internet postings as he searched for a job.

It is always helpful knowing the type of person with whom you're dealing.  Sometimes the work persona is quite different from the real-life persona.

Set the stage for discussion and helped me prepare questions, esp. ice breakers.

I thought it was very helpful.  I also google people I'm going to meet for the first time in a meeting, etc. I find it very helpful to have a feel for the person. I know that I have been very unimpressed by sales people that come to see me and know nothing about the company or myself.

If not helpful, then at least interesting for conversation starters.

These, however, were my favorites:

No surprises, weasels in the workplace, weasels socially.

Never googled a co-worker - specifically because I don't want to know!

It was interesting.  I don't think that everything you find on the internet is necessarily true, however.

That they "worked" someplace else simultaneously????  Listed on another firm's website???

Honestly hadn't and now I'm going to google some that I wish I had and see if it would have made a difference!

I didn't find out much other than there were a whole lot of people with the same name, and it wasn't a very common name.

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who noted “Seems like the last time I had an interview candidate, "googled" was not a word.”

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!