Cybervetting, Person–Environment Fit, and Personnel Selection: Employers' Surveillance and Sensemaking of Job Applicants' Online Information

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cybervetting, online screening, surveillance, personnel selection, person–environment fit, careers

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As the perceived credibility and availability of conventional sources of applicant information wanes, employers increasingly use online information to evaluate prospective employees' fit. This qualitative study explores how employers communicatively frame online screening—or cybervetting—to inform fit assessments during personnel selection. Findings suggest that employers legitimize cybervetting by framing the practice as risk work (i.e. due diligence and professional identity work), reputation management, efficient, fun, and transformative. Findings evidence shifting understandings of how fit assessments occur and what constitutes a “good fit” and an ideal worker as employers extend organizational surveillance beyond conventional work roles and contexts. Recommendations include assessing cybervetting's effectiveness at accomplishing risk, reputation, and efficiency goals; complicating singular notions of identity; considering bona fide information environments when developing employment legislation; and expanding training to improve employers' and workers' socio-technical and communicative competencies.

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Journal of Applied Communication Research, v. 42, issue 4, p. 456-476