Navigating the Partisan Divide: How Political Views Impact Hiring Decisions and Workplace Dynamics


As the next U.S. election approaches, the already noticeable partisan divide continues to expand. This growing divide can significantly impact various areas, including the workplace. Hiring managers might consciously or unconsciously interpret signals that reveal a candidate’s political views, such as their interests, attire, or social media presence, potentially leading to biased hiring practices. Additionally, the increasing trend of “doxing”—the malicious exposure of an individual’s private information—poses further risks. For example, an anonymous individual might share a job applicant’s politically charged Facebook post with a potential employer, aiming to sabotage the applicant’s job prospects. A recent study by Roth and colleagues (2023) delves into these issues.

Roth and his team conducted two studies investigating how political affiliation influences hiring decisions. In the first study, participants evaluated fictitious resumes for a managerial position and then viewed a Facebook page containing either positive or negative politically charged content aligned with liberal or conservative views. Participants were told that the information was obtained either through a routine HR screening process (no doxing) or from an anonymous source (doxing).

Interestingly, when the information came through doxing, participants were less suspicious of the candidate. Moreover, greater suspicion of a candidate led participants to doubt the candidate’s ability to represent the organization’s image effectively and increased concerns about potential retaliation from external parties if the candidate was hired.

The second study, which involved a larger sample size and more realistic social media posts, produced similar results. Additionally, it showed that participants were more likely to believe a candidate would uphold the organization’s image if they perceived themselves as similar to the candidate. Decision-makers felt least threatened by candidates who posted positive content and appeared similar to themselves and most threatened by candidates from opposing political parties who posted negative content.

These findings offer valuable insights for both job seekers and organizations. Job seekers should be aware that politically charged social media posts, or even subtle indications of their political affiliation, can impact hiring decisions. Organizations need to carefully navigate this landscape. For instance, hiring managers might implement a policy of reviewing only professional social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, rather than personal ones like Facebook.

If organizations feel compelled to screen social media to mitigate liability, they could use an impartial third party (someone not involved in hiring decisions) to identify major red flags. This, combined with validated and objective assessments for selection, can offer a powerful combination to ensure that only those best-fitting candidates are hired for a position. 

In summary, this research highlights the complex relationship between political affiliation, hiring decisions, and workplace dynamics. By understanding these issues and adopting appropriate strategies, job seekers and organizations can contribute to creating more inclusive and harmonious work environments.