Ghosting occurs at every stage of recruitment, where candidates, recruiters, or hiring managers fail to follow up (or show up) for the next stage of the interview or hiring process.
When candidates and employers engage in ghosting, it results in a bad experience for all involved and can have a lasting effect on organizational recruitment efforts.
Organizations can limit ghosting and deliver a more positive candidate experience by setting high standards for candidate communication and engagement.
In recent years, ghosting – when someone stops communicating, never to be seen or heard from again – has increasingly become a common practice in recruitment. It sends an abrupt message of “no longer interested,” leaving whoever is on the receiving end feeling frustrated, ignored, and disrespected.
Though ghosting is not a new phenomenon, many employers say it has become a bigger problem than ever before. In a 2022 survey, four in ten employers said the practice had gotten worse in the space of only two years. Despite the reality that employers can’t control the actions of candidates who ghost them, they can create an environment that limits ghosting by candidates and those in their own organization. By understanding the root causes and overall impact of ghosting, organizations can take action to get better at preventing it and maintain smoother communications with candidates.
Types of Ghosting and Their Impact
Both candidates and employers are guilty of failing to communicate and leaving the other party hanging on with no hope of an update. In fact, an Indeed survey found that 77% of job seekers said they had been ghosted by companies, and 76% of companies said they had been treated similarly by job seekers. There are several types of ghosting, ranging from not returning a phone call or meeting invitation to being a no-show for a confirmed interview or first day of work.
Not responding to communications from recruiters or hiring managers
Accepting a verbal job offer but not signing the offer letter or other agreement Formally accepting a job offer but failing to show up for the first day at work
Not letting candidates know where they are in the hiring process
Not responding to emails or phone messages from candidates requesting feedback
Not following up with rejected candidates
Ghosting Impact on Candidates and Employers
No one wants to invest time and energy into the interview and hiring process, only to have it end abruptly because one party walked away. For candidates who have been ghosted, the experience is more than just disappointing. Research has found it also damages individuals’ self-esteem and robs them of their need for closure, which can have negative mental health effects.
When candidates are ghosted, the lack of closure can also result in a negative outcome for offending employers. Candidates with a poor experience are more likely to tell others about their experience, which can be damaging to the organization’s reputation and employer brand, and send great candidates into the arms of competitors. A CareerArc survey found that 72% of candidates who had a poor recruitment experience with a company shared their experience with others.
Ghosting also casts a negative light on company culture and candidate perceptions of the employee experience. The ghosting actions of a single recruiter or hiring manager can send a message that the company and its employees are disrespectful and incapable of common courtesy. A CareerBuilder survey found that 78% of jobseekers believed the overall candidate experience was an indication of how a company values its people.
Organizations on the receiving end of ghosting also suffer, especially when highly desired candidates disappear at the tail-end of the interview process. Not only may organizations be forced to start the process all over again with a new slate of candidates, but they may also need to re-engage third-party recruitment partners, which can increase recruitment costs and damage time-to-hire metrics.
Key Actions to Limit Ghosting in the Recruitment Process
Organizations trying to hire quality talent in a competitive job market can’t afford to miss hiring targets because of ghosting. By taking the following actions, it’s possible to keep the recruitment program on track and keep candidates engaged from application to hire.
1. Create an Anti-Ghosting Recruitment Culture
One of the most effective ways organizations can prevent ghosting is by operating a recruitment program that eliminates all forms of the practice. But living up to that commitment isn’t just for recruiters; it requires buy-in from everyone involved in the recruitment process, including hiring managers, senior management, and third-party recruitment partners. To prevent scenarios where candidates are left hanging without any follow-up, companies need to communicate recruitment program goals to all stakeholders and provide guidance on communicating with candidates courteously and respectfully.
In addition to educating everyone involved in the recruitment process, the talent acquisition team may also need to implement technology that makes it easier to avoid ghosting behaviors. Examples include technology that enables auto-replies from the applicant tracking system (ATS) and 24/7 chatbots on the company career site.
2. Seek to Uncover the Root Cause of Candidate Ghosting
There are all sorts of reasons candidates ghost prospective employers. While some may disappear because they got a better offer, some may not have been that interested in the first place. And others may have simply dropped out because they were frustrated with the interview process. Robert Half research found that the top reasons surveyed employers missed out on good hires were because they took too long to make an offer, didn’t allow enough schedule flexibility, and didn’t meet candidate salary expectations. Whatever the possible causes, employers owe it to themselves to try and identify them.
In addition to asking recent hires for feedback, recruitment teams can also consider candidate experience surveys. Feedback from past candidates who have recently gone through the interview and hiring process can provide helpful ideas for improving the process for future candidates. Examples include making the interview and assessment process more efficient, providing helpful interview feedback, and communicating with candidates across different channels (email, phone, text) as they move through the candidate journey.
3. Practice Transparent Communication
Communicating regularly with candidates through the recruitment process helps to prevent the frustration that encourages candidates to drop out of the running for open positions. And being transparent doesn’t just prevent ghosting; it’s also what candidates expect. A Lighthouse Research & Advisory study found that 70% of candidates want status updates on their application at least weekly. By taking steps to provide clarity about what to expect during the interview and selection process and following through with timely updates, organizations can avoid disappointment on all sides.
Key steps to accomplish this goal include:
Writing accurate, informative, and engaging job postings and advertisements
Outlining interview and assessment steps at various points throughout the process
4. Build Meaningful Engagement with Candidates
In addition to practicing transparent communication across the entire talent pool, organizations should also seek opportunities to connect with candidates on a deeper level. Candidates who have opportunities to develop a positive rapport with recruiters and hiring managers may be more likely to stick with the hiring process through to the end, and less inclined to walk away without notice.
Asking candidates about their preferred methods of communicating, including via email, text, phone, and LinkedIn
Personalizing messaging as much as possible, particularly for candidates in the final stages of the hiring process
Sharing feedback with candidates that can help them in future interview rounds
Seeking opportunities to build personal connections that make candidates feel valued and wanted
Tip: Candidate engagement builds excitement among candidates, making them less likely to become bored or disinterested during the hiring process. With the help of technology that combines the power of AI with human experts, organizations can keep candidates engaged and improve their conversion into hires.
Keep Candidates Engaged and Prevent Ghosting
Losing great candidates because of ghosting makes it more difficult to recruit in today’s competitive job market. But it doesn’t have to be that way. By understanding candidate needs and making changes that keep candidates informed and engaged throughout the recruitment process, organizations can stop losing great candidates and make consistent progress in meeting their hiring goals.
For help making improvements that prevent ghosting, the team at Recruitics is here to help! The Recruitics team can provide strategic support and customized recruitment marketing solutions to help employers communicate more effectively with candidates and keep them fully engaged throughout the hiring process.