Ghosting (stopping all communication without explanation) started as a dating term, but it has become an alarming and harmful trend in the talent world. When job seekers are ghosted, they’re left with a bad candidate experience and an unpleasant perception of the employer. When employers are ghosted, they’re left with wasted time and delays in meeting staffing needs, as well as a negative impression of the candidate. Whatever side of the relationship you’re on, ghosting is bad for business and your brand.
According to an Indeed survey on this trend, 77% of candidates and 76% of hiring managers report having been ghosted at some point in the hiring process, and many feel it has become more prevalent since the pandemic. Whether a candidate is a no-show at the interview or a recruiter screens an applicant and then doesn’t return their calls, ghosting results in immediate and in some cases, long-term damage.
Smart hiring managers know recruiting top talent involves building relationships with candidates, and just like searching for a love match, most times you have to shop around. It is always good practice to respect an applicant’s time, provide relevant information, and respond timely with honest communication–even when it’s not a good fit. Given today’s candidate-driven market and the competition employers face for a limited talent pool, these factors are more critical than ever.
Along with being the type of employer who respects job seekers, you can minimize the amount of ghosting your hiring team faces by following these three steps:
First, focus on good communication throughout your process. Early on, acknowledge receipt of materials. As your process requires an increased time commitment from applicants, those candidates earn the right to have their questions and concerns answered. At every step, authentic, personal interaction strengthens the connection that makes ghosting less likely.
Second, set clear and realistic expectations regarding your process and timeline, and stick with them: What happens next? When will it happen and who is involved? Not only does your commitment to a transparent process and timeframe limit wasted energy from candidates reaching out too often or too soon, it provides a guide for your hiring team. Also, if for any reason, your process or timeline changes, let the candidates know.
Third, be upfront when you have to end it, and let the candidate know as soon as possible. A kindly worded email often is enough to let someone down gently. If the candidate was a finalist during a lengthy process, a phone call is appropriate and will go a long way to ensure the relationship ends on a positive note. Although this role was not an ideal match, the next one may be a better fit. Above all, you want a candidate’s rejection to be softened by the knowledge that they were treated with respect and professionalism.
Finally, if you take the above steps and still get ghosted, be consoled that the candidate who could not bother communicating was not worth having on your team.