For you non-Navy types out there, ADM Hyman Rickover is a legendary figure in the US Navy – he served for an astounding 60 years and oversaw the creation and maturation of the “Nuclear Navy.” He was notable for a number of eccentricities, most notably that he personally interviewed EVERY candidate for service as a nuclear power officer.
The stories of those interviews are legendary. One such stories goes that he told an engaged Midshipmen applying for a spot that “I don’t want married officers, they’re too distracted.” So he demanded that the Midshipmen call his fiancee on the spot and break off the engagement. The Midshipmen got on the phone, started to dial – only to be thrown out of his office by Rickover, yelling he didn’t wany any wimps* in his service! The idea being that the best officers should be willing to push back against unreasonable or irrational requests, regardless of their origin.
It was in that light that I read this article about prospective employers asking interview candidates for their Facebook passwords so they can look at their profile….
Take the case of Robert Collins, the Maryland man who was forced to reveal his Facebook password during an interview with the state’s Department of Corrections — and who, as Alexis Madrigal reported, has the ACLU arguing on his behalf. Or take the tale of Justin Bassett, a New York statistician who ended a job interview after he was asked to provide his Facebook password during its proceedings. These cases, the AP notes, aren’t mere anomalies. These are not rogue or clueless HR reps. “In their efforts to vet applicants,” reporters Manuel Valdes and Shannon McFarland put it, “some companies and government agencies are going beyond merely glancing at a person’s social networking profiles and instead asking to log in as the user to have a look around.”
Before I read this article, if I were to get that question in an interview I would assume that it’s some sort of head game, meant to test my fortitude and cyber-security savvyness. Supposedly another officer, ordered by Rickover to “piss me off” cleared everything off his desk in a single giant motion, breaking equipment and shattering a crystal bowl – and was taken by Rickover on the spot! Suffice to say, I think that’s a proper response to the “Password” question as well.