Getting Ghosted: A Horror Story for both Candidates and Employers

Getting Ghosted: A Horror Story for both Candidates and Employers

Ghosting is a term used to describe someone suddenly withdrawing from communication without explanation. The term "ghosting" has been increasingly more common in regards to the recruitment process. However, ghosting takes place both from the perspective of the candidate and the employer.

It is valuable for employers to look at both perspectives to understand how to prevent these haunting experiences and avoid becoming the villain in the next Glassdoor review horror story.


Ghosted: The Candidate's Perspective

Employers aren’t the only ones in grave danger when it comes to being ghosted. Candidates can also feel ghosted when applying for jobs. Here are the top five ways employers ghost candidates.

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Jobs - Rest in Peace

At some point, we have all clicked a link to learn more about a job opening only to land on a page that says “Job Not Found” or “This role has been filled,” or even worse: “Error 404”. Unfortunately, this is a common experience for job seekers. It's certainly unintentional and typically due to a technical process for posting jobs that is flawed or absent of consideration to user experience.

Applications - Hello, Is There Someone Out There?

A common complaint from job seekers is that after applying for a job, they get no communication at all and are left wondering if anyone will ever even see their application. At the very least, employers should confirm that the application has been received. Providing applicants with timely communication that outlines realistic expectations for the hiring process is not only valued, but expected by today's job seekers.

Black Hole Recruitment Process - Twilight Zone

The most common complaint amongst candidates is the “Black Hole” recruitment process. As candidates try to navigate the hiring process, they crave communication, but many companies provide either poor or no communication that supports the candidate through the process. This leaves candidates feeling as if their resume goes into the blackhole and nothing ever comes out.

Interview Process - The Masquerade

If an employer is interested enough in a candidate to progress them to the interview phase, then this was likely a quality applicant. The applicant put in the time, effort, and emotional commitment to go through with an interview. They expect and deserve some follow up communication. Most importantly, do what you say you will. For example, if you say you will follow up next week, then follow up next week. It's a professional courtesy that you expect of anyone you do business with, and candidates that made it as far as an interview deserve that professional courtesy as well. Someday they could be your customer or maybe even your boss.

Referral Programs - Trick or Treat

Referrals are a great way to acquire talent, but many referral programs fail due to referrals being ghosted. For these programs to be successful, an employer has to take action and engage with the candidates that have been referred. First, it's a courtesy to the employee or individual who took the time to refer a candidate that you find the time to follow up. They are loyal enough to your brand to make that effort, so you should treat them with the respect they deserve by returning that effort. If you are not properly following up with referrals, your program loses credibility with both those providing talent referrals and the referred candidates, who may have been expecting to hear from you but never did.  

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All people are consumers, and consumers who are loyal enough to your brand to seek employment with you should be valued. Their experience with your employer brand and your hiring process may influence their perception of your organization as a whole. Brands that provide a poor candidate experience by ghosting may negatively impact their consumer brand as well as their employer brand, tarnishing their reputation with that candidate and others in their network of influence. The best approach is to treat your candidates like customers.



From the employer’s perspective, this is when candidates either withdraw from active communication during the hiring process or don’t show up for the first day of scheduled work (which many recruiters feel has become an increasingly common trend). Here are a few of the most common ways employers are being ghosted by candidates:

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Interested, But Never Applied

Most companies see the largest dropoff for potential talent even before they apply. To analyze this dropoff, companies commonly use the number of applications started or the number of registrations as a KPI. These numbers prove that plenty of people are interested enough to start an application, but fewer have the sustained interest required to finish one.

Before talent actually applies to your jobs, they often have a desire to learn more about your organization. If you don’t have a way to effectively manage their journey to discover more about you, then there could be a number of reasons they might abandon your application. They may learn something about the role or your organization by filling out the application that causes them to lose interest, or they could decide they don’t know enough about the opportunity to invest much more of their time. Instead, it will appear as if they are phantoms driving up advertising costs without ever actually applying.

Applied, But Never Responded

Candidates apply to jobs, but that does not mean that it's only up to you to progress them to a hire. The applicant also needs to make the decision to commit their time to your selection and hiring process. Consider that they likely applied to other jobs as well, and they may decide to move forward with a competitor simply because they offer a better employer hiring experience. Remember that your candidate experience may include phone screens, background checks, interviews, and assessments, all which take time and can be stressful for your candidate. This is especially true if the process is not clear. Making the process clear to the candidate and engaging with them regularly can significantly increase response.

Hired, But They’re a No-Show

People need to know why they are showing up for work. Simply getting paid is not enough to ensure that they will. Be sure you know your employee value propositions, and take care to incorporate and reinforce them throughout the hiring funnel. Lack of employer brand engagement with candidates can cause talent who are seeking employment to be easily lured by competitors, or it can send a message about your culture to the candidate that causes them to rethink working at your organization. It's important to keep talent consistently engaged during the hiring phase and throughout their lifecycle of employment with the company to ensure retention.

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Is your recruitment process haunted by ghosting? Contact the recruitment ghostbusters at Recruitics.


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