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

Candidate ghosting has become all too familiar for HR and TA professionals. The concept of ghosting has become increasingly prevalent in the world of recruiting and occurs when a candidate simply vanishes on a prospective employment opportunity. Whether the individual stops responding to email messages, fails to appear for an interview, or even decides not to show up for their first day of work, this trend has become all the more common during the pandemic.

According to recent study results from Indeed, more than three out of four employers reported that they had been ghosted by a candidate within the previous year—with some 57 percent of respondents stating that they had been ghosted on more than one occasion. So why does this vanishing act continue to happen—and what can employers do to put an end to it?

Here are some of the most popular reasons for candidate ghosting—along with strategies that companies can use to help put an end to this growing trend.

Preventing Job Turnover by Prioritizing Top Talent

When ghosting occurs

Candidate ghosting doesn’t just take place in one specific 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 take part 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. If the job seeker doesn’t feel compelled by the opportunity after this initial screening, the odds of ghosting increase significantly.
  • After interviewing – For one reason or another, candidates decide to walk away from the potential employment opportunity after conducting an interview. This is sometimes due to something that was said by the recruiter that didn’t align with the individual’s expectations of the role.
  • After job offer – Job seekers often are in talks with several employers at a time 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 after candidates 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 choose to go through some—or all—of the hiring process before eventually ceasing communication with their prospective employer. Indeed’s report revealed some of the most common reasons why individuals choose to ghost their recruiter:

  • Over 50 percent of ghosters decided the job was not a fit for them;
  • More than 40 percent of ghosters received another offer;
  • About 26 percent of ghosters said they did not want to tell the employer about their change of heart;
  • And about 11 percent of ghosters did not know what to do, so they simply vanished!

Ghosting in a candidate-driven market

As shown by the percentages above, there are many different factors as to 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. And 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 through the submission of 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.

Avoiding ghosting in recruiting

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

  • Outline clear expectations – Tighten up your job description to only include responsibilities that are relevant for the position. Make it crystal clear what is expected of the candidate while leaving little room for grey area. This will not only increase the quality of candidates that align with your requirements, but keep them more engaged as the recruiting process moves forward.
  • Shorten the hiring process – In the twenty-first century, it’s rare to find candidates who are patient with a job search. Instead, current job seekers prefer to take part in a hiring process that moves along swiftly—from application submission, to interviews, to job offer. Keep things moving along 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 isn’t in line with their expectations. Do your research and study up on your local market to establish a salary or wage range that is in line with the individual’s area of specialization.
  • Get the candidate on a phone or videoconference call – Evaluating a candidate’s resume online is one thing, but talking to them over a phone or video call is another. Your recruiters or TA teams can get a better sense of the candidate’s personality in these interactions. Plus, you might be able to tell if the individual is serious about exploring the job opportunity or in it for the wrong reasons.
  • Avoid wasting time – Keeping candidates in limbo about their job status is never a recipe for success. After a phone screen or interview, it’s always a good idea to follow up with the individual. Elongating the recruiting process will allow the candidate 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.

Interested in learning how your company can eliminate bias within your virtual interviews? Discover how you can foster a fair process for all candidates.

This blog was written by Broadleaf’s Director of Client Delivery, Judy Walcott.