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Cybervetting, (un)trustworthy job candidates and distrusting employers

Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet)
Författare Anna Hedenus
Christel Backman
Publicerad i Workshop on trust, distrust and surveillance. Surveillance & Scandinavian Exceptionalism research network. October 5-6, 2015, Gothenburg.
Publiceringsår 2015
Publicerad vid Institutionen för sociologi och arbetsvetenskap
Språk en
Ämneskategorier Sociologi


Employing new personnel involves a risk taking for the employing organization, which calls for a variety of strategies to minimize this risk and to be able to evaluate who is trustworthy or not. During the last years, the use of “cybervetting” – to search online for information about job candidates – has grown to become a commonly used practice among employers, HR staff and recruiters. This practice allows for new kinds of information about the job seekers to be added to the material on which recruiters are to base their hiring decision; information that is not necessarily produced with an employer in mind, and which is often of a more personal or private nature. To understand how this practice is related to notions of trust and risk, we analyse qualitative interviews with 36 interviewees – working with recruitment in different kinds of organizations in Sweden during 2013 and 2015 – who have sometimes, or frequently, used cybervetting as a work tool. The analysis shows how the recruitment process can be characterized by an organized distrust against job candidates, involving strategies that are framed and motivated by a “suspicion awareness context”. Recruiting personnel use internet searches as a mean for evaluating applicants’ benevolence, integrity and ability, and thereby also assessing job applicants’ trustworthiness. Concluding, we find that the job seeker passing as “normal” is often interpreted as a significant indicator of him or her also being predictable and reliable, while more deviant behaviors or beliefs are associated with the “untrustworthy”.

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