Candidate Ghosting: What Is It, Why Does It Happen, and How Can You Prevent It?

In the fast-paced world of recruitment, a phenomenon has left even the most seasoned HR professionals puzzled—candidate ghosting. It’s the unexpected disappearance of promising prospects, leaving hiring teams in the lurch. But fear not! In this blog, we’ll unravel the mysteries behind candidate ghosting, delve into the psychology driving it, and equip you with a powerful arsenal of prevention strategies. Prepare to transform your recruitment process and say goodbye to the ghosting blues!

In fact, 84 percent of job candidates have ghosted an employer in the last 18 months, and 39 percent of companies feel candidate ghosting has increased over the previous two years. So why does this vanishing act happen—and what can employers do to end it?

Here are some of the most popular reasons for candidate ghosting and strategies companies can use to help end this growing trend.

When ghosting occurs

Candidate ghosting doesn’t just occur in one part of the hiring process. Much to the dismay of TA and HR professionals, instances of ghosting can occur in one of these five points:

  • After applying: Job boards like LinkedIn and Indeed have “easy apply” features that make it almost effortless for candidates to be considered for a position. The downside to these functionalities is that candidates don’t feel obligated to respond to recruiter messages or participate in further rounds of the hiring process.
  • After screening: Typical candidate screenings take place via a phone interview with a recruiter and are meant to determine whether the individual is qualified for the role. Recruiters usually ask about candidates’ salary requirements and availability to work. The odds of ghosting increase significantly if the job seeker doesn’t feel compelled by the opportunity after the initial screening.
  • After interviewing: For one reason or another, candidates decide to walk away from the potential employment opportunity after conducting an interview. Why? 46 percent of candidates ghost due to an impersonal interview process. Ghosting is also sometimes due to something said by the recruiter that didn’t align with the individual’s expectations of the role.
  • After a job offer: Job seekers often are in talks with several employers and may receive more than one job offer during their employment search. If your company extends an offer to a candidate with an annual salary or job responsibilities that aren’t on par with others the person received, the individual could vanish in the blink of an eye.
  • After starting: Yes, ghosting even occurs aftercandidates begin a new job. Upon deciding they no longer wish to remain with their employer, the individual walks away from the role while ceasing all communication.

Reasons for ghosting

While ghosting does not happen with all job seekers, it remains baffling to some industry experts why candidates go through some—or all—of the hiring process before eventually ceasing communication with their prospective employer. Here are the most common reasons why individuals choose to ghost their recruiter:

  • 29%: The salary level was below their expectations.
  • 28%: The candidate received more attractive job offers.
  • 27%: An inaccurate description of the role.
  • 26%: A bad online review or reputation of the company.
  • 22%: A dislike of the perceived workplace culture.

Ghosting in a candidate-driven market

As shown by the percentages above, there are many reasons why an employee chooses to tap out on a potential job opportunity. Some recruiters can accidentally mislead their candidates, which doesn’t help the odds of securing their trust during the recruiting process. In such a candidate-driven job market, it’s becoming increasingly clear that job seekers understand the degree of leverage they hold in job offers and employment negotiations. While candidates have the right to be choosey with the opportunities they pursue, they should also be mindful of their professional reputations when considering how to proceed during the recruiting process.

Lack of human connection

Because the majority of business transactions have shifted to virtual settings during the pandemic, talent acquisition and recruiting functions have been forced to follow suit. Gone are the days of shaking a recruiter’s hand and dropping them a copy of your resume. For most corporate roles, applying for jobs takes place online by submitting digital copies of your resume. Due to this lack of human connection, job seekers feel no sense of obligation to reply to emails, return voicemail messages, or even show up for work on the first day of a new job. Instead, they have the autonomy to respond to offers as they please without fear of any repercussions.

Related blog from Aleron Group Partner Acara Solutions: Making Human Touch Part of the Candidate Experience in a High-Tech World

Avoiding ghosting in recruiting

While ghosting is unavoidable, certain tactics can be implemented into your business’s recruiting process to improve candidate responsiveness. Here are some of our recommended strategies:

  • Communication is key: Effective communication is crucial during hiring and benefits employers and candidates.
  • Maintain open and transparent lines of communication throughout the entire process. Frequent updates and transparent feedback can help build trust and reduce the likelihood of ghosting.
  • Set expectations early to clearly outline the recruitment process, including timelines, stages, and what candidates can expect. This helps manage candidate expectations and reduce uncertainty.
  • Foster candidate engagement on a personal level. Show genuine interest in their career goals and aspirations. Building a strong rapport can make candidates more likely to communicate honestly.
  • Broaden communication channels by contacting candidates through email, video, phone calls, and text messages. Candidates may have varying preferences when it comes to communication methods.
  • Provide value at every interaction with information, insights, or resources that can benefit job seekers, even if they don’t ultimately get the position.
  • Be responsive to candidate inquiries or concerns. A delay in responding to their queries can lead to frustration and an increased likelihood of ghosting.
  • Follow up after each stage of the recruitment process to provide candidates with feedback, updates, or next steps. This demonstrates your commitment to their candidacy.
  • Outline clear expectations: Tighten up your job posting only to include relevant responsibilities for the position. Make it crystal clear what is expected of the candidate while leaving little room for grey areas. This will increase the quality of candidates aligning with your requirements and keep them more engaged as the recruiting process progresses.
  • Shorten the hiring process: In the 21st century, it’s rare to find candidates who are patient with a job search. Instead, current job seekers prefer to participate in a swift hiring process—from application submission to interviews to job offer. Keep things moving with your internal decision-makers to maintain the candidate’s full attention.
  • Provide an offer with a fair wage: Job seekers can run away from a potential job offer if the salary doesn’t align with their expectations. Research and study your local market to establish a salary or wage range that aligns with the individual’s specialization.
  • Avoid wasting time: Keeping candidates in limbo about their job status is never a recipe for success. Following up with the individual after a phone screen or interview is always a good idea. Elongating the recruiting process will allow candidates to explore other opportunities with competitors. Don’t let them slip through your grasp by taking too long to respond.

Summary

It’s no secret that the job market has shifted from employer-driven to candidate-driven. How your organization responds to these changes will dictate your talent acquisition success. By leveraging these strategies, you can better equip your recruiters to effectively engage candidates during the hiring process while mitigating the impacts of candidate ghosting.

Related: 7 Tips to Attract and Retain Employees in the Post-Pandemic Labor Market

 

This blog was written by Broadleaf’s Vice President of Client Delivery, Joseph O’Shea.