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McDonald's Snapchat applications could help with targeted recruiting, HR researcher says

Thursday, April 13, 2017

LAWRENCE — McDonald's this week in Australia began recruiting job applicants via Snapchat.

The fast-food giant asked for "Snaplications" via the popular social media channel with teenagers in which applicants sent them a 10-second video while wearing a McDonald's uniform. According to news reports, store managers as an initial step would judge applicants based on their personalities and potential fits for customer service roles before deciding whether to send a more detailed digital application.

A University of Kansas School of Business researcher who studies trends in human resource management is available to discuss issues surrounding this new social media recruiting tactic.

Jill Ellingson, professor of human resource management and Dana Anderson Faculty Fellow, researches human resource practices, individual differences and employment assessment. She co-edited the recently released book "Autonomous Learning in the Workplace" as part of the prestigious SIOP Organizational Frontiers Series.

Q: Would you consider it a significant development that McDonald’s in Australia is seeking out SnapChat videos as applications? Might they be on to something in targeting a certain demographic of job candidates? Or could this also be a PR stunt? 

Ellingson: PR stunt, perhaps, but we have seen a shift toward more and more firms using social media as part of the hiring process. Firms are actively culling through professional networking sites like LinkedIn as a new way to find and hire new talent. This represents another way to innovate in this space.

Q: Could this tactic have its advantages or some positive aspects in helping McDonald’s find quality employees? 

Ellingson: I view these videos as a unique, on-trend targeted recruiting tactic more than a selection tool for hiring purposes. This helps McDonald's generate interest among those applicants whom it often hires to fill service positions. The service sector routinely hires high school and college-age workers to fill hourly jobs. Such workers are social media savvy. This tactic reaches them in a way that is familiar and differentiates McDonald's from other service sector employers.

Q: Are there any potential pitfalls? If so, what would you advise executives at McDonald’s to think about either in how to handle them or address them? 

Ellingson: The reliability and validity of hiring decisions made on the basis of a 10-second video is likely to be highly suspect. Further, for legal reasons it is important in the United States to keep records of screening decisions to document applicant pool demographics. Pictures or videos that disappear after being viewed would violate that expectation. Treating this tactic as a way to generate interest in the job opportunity rather than actively screening candidates on this basis seems prudent.

Q: It looks as if this is an initial step in the process. Could something like this have potential to be a more widespread practice? 

Ellingson: Sure. But again, as more of a novel recruiting tool that helps companies capture the attention of workers who might otherwise not be interested in the job.


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