Ghostbusting in 2023: Top Tactics to Prevent Candidate Disappearances
Table of Contents

Key highlights

  • Candidate ghosting has increased from 18% in 2019 to 28% in 2021
  • Reasons for ghosting can include poor candidate experience, uncertainty in the candidate about the job and the company, or a better offer from another organization
  • Strategies to prevent candidate ghosting can include better experience, transparency in the
    process, frequent updates, etc

Introduction

There is so much interaction between a candidate and a recruiter during the course of hiring. All the effort put into assessing, interviewing, and offering a job role is nullified when a candidate ghosts you. 

The term ‘ghosting’ first emerged in the dating context when a journalist was stood up by her date and blocked on all apps. Today, it has trickled into many other relationships, including friendships, networking, businesses, and workplaces.

It was commonplace for many organizations to ghost candidates after interviewing them. The reasons ranged from busy schedules, volume hiring, or just assuming candidates will know their results if they are not contacted. Although some candidates would also vanish on their recruiters, the rate of candidate ghosting has increased from 18% in 2019 to 28% in 2021.

Let us understand the concept of ghosting better.

What is candidate ghosting?

Ghosting in the workplace is when a candidate accepts a job offer but stops communicating with a potential employer without any apparent warning or justification and ignores any subsequent attempts to communicate. 

A candidate vanishing suddenly can leave you, the recruiter, feeling confused, disappointed, and frustrated and questioning what went wrong and whether you should follow up with them. Of course, there remains the bigger challenge of interviewing another candidate for the role. 

Problems caused by candidate ghosting

Quite obviously, candidate ghosting can cause many complications for recruiters: 

#1 Uncertainty

When a candidate cuts off communication, you could feel uncertain of whether to follow up with them or start looking for other candidates. Depending on your experience with the candidate, you may feel like giving them the benefit of the doubt and making up reasons for why the candidate must be uncommunicative.    

#2 Increased time-to-hire

Apart from the already invested time in a candidate, waiting for them to respond or looking for other suitable candidates for a role increases the time-to-hire.

#3 Increased cost-to-hire

Ghosting significantly increases the cost-to-hire with duplication of effort.

#4 Productivity loss

There is a significant loss of productivity for the recruiter, which may lead to decreased morale.  

Causes of candidate ghosting

The reasons for candidate ghosting can fall into 2 major categories:

  1. Poor candidate experience:
  • Lack of clarity and communication during the interview process may cause disinterest in the candidate, and they may decide to withdraw from the application process.
  • If the interview process is too long and the candidate is left wondering about their result, it may be a cause for ghosting. 
  1. Other factors:
  • If a candidate is uncertain about a job change or has made an impulsive decision to apply or just applied to test the waters, they could be more susceptible to ghosting.
  • A candidate could be retained by their employer after learning that they are looking out for a job change.
  • Most candidates apply to several jobs at a time and therefore have counteroffers from various organizations. If they find an offer more lucrative than yours or have a better experience with another organization, they are likely to choose them instead.
  • Often, peer influence may impact a candidate to change their opinion about applying to a role or your company.

In any of the scenarios, if a candidate is conflict-avoidant or passive-aggressive, they would prefer to disappear rather than communicate with you and reveal the real reasons for their change in decision.

Of course, as a recruiter, you may not be able to anticipate the mindset of the candidate. However, you can take some concrete steps to prevent candidate ghosting.

Strategies to avoid or reduce candidate ghosting

Firstly, let us understand the depth of the word – strategy. Strategy is defined as a long-range plan for achieving something or reaching a goal. Since it is a long-term plan, the strategy to avoid candidate ghosting starts right from the organizational values. 

#1 Know your candidates

Through the various interview stages, you can uncover many aspects of the candidate. You can also understand them better by creating candidate personas. 

Candidate personas may contain the following information:

  • Demographic details
  • Goals
  • Personality traits
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Skills
  • Motivators
  • Frustrations or pain points
  • Influencers etc.

#2 Transparency

Make transparent, timely, and honest communication a part of your organization’s values (within internal teams or candidates). 

If you are straightforward about your value proposition, expectations, and the interview processes, it may help reduce ghosting. Likewise, you could encourage candidates to state their expectations and preferences throughout the interview process. 

You could also use automation to ensure timely communication. This allows you to send follow-up messages and updates and inform candidates about their candidature. 

Statistics show 48% of candidates feel exasperated by employers and recruiters who don’t inform them or keep them updated on where they stand. Therefore, ensure that you offer closure to candidates by communicating with candidates promptly.

#3 Ensure a great candidate experience

Today, candidates feel that they have many job options, especially those from younger generations like the millennials and Gen Z. Candidate experience has become the main differentiator to be the ‘chosen one’.

The following factors contribute to creating a great candidate experience:

  • Offering a great Employee Value Proposition (EVP)
  • Make the application process easy
  • Treat candidates with respect and make them feel comfortable
  • Ask for feedback and make the relevant changes
  • Communicate regularly and engage with candidates 

#4 Make your interview process efficient and relatively concise

  • By being clear about what kind of talent you seek for a certain job role and organization, you can screen better or use technology to parse resumes and filter the most suitable candidates
  • Use technology to conduct pre-employment screening and assessment. By asking candidates to submit video resumes or conducting one-way video interviews, you can be more efficient
  • Conducting panel interviews can shorten the interview process 
  • Maintain a good Turn-Around-Time (TAT) to respond to candidates at every stage of the hiring process. Automation can help you respond promptly to candidates, facilitating more engagement with them
  • Offer constructive feedback to candidates and help ‘trainable’ candidates prepare better for the next interview rounds
  • Ensure a shorter decision-making loop, and once again, technology can offer you many tools to do this efficiently

Conclusion

As a recruiter, what you can do to prevent candidate ghosting is to ensure an efficient recruitment process and communicate effectively. There may be factors that are beyond your control that may cause the candidate to withdraw their application. However, the comfort that the candidate has with you will help them speak to you openly about their preferences.

On the other hand, you must accept that even though you try your best to create a great experience, candidates may ghost you owing to their passive personalities.

And if a candidate still ghosts you despite being treated extremely well, you could consider the professional relationship with them to be incompatible anyway.    

FAQs on Candidate Ghosting 

How frequently and for how long can you follow up with a candidate who has ghosted you?

The answer is quite subjective. You must definitely follow up with a candidate through multiple channels, like phone calls, text messages, and emails, to avoid any communication gaps. You could also give the candidate enough time to respond, presuming busy schedules or emergencies.

With multiple follow-ups, you could request the candidate to inform you about delays or changes in their decision. 
The urgency to fill the position is also an important factor in following up with the candidate.

How can the time for scheduling interviews be reduced?

Scheduling interviews is a tough task, especially if the candidate is employed during their time of application to your organization. Conflicting schedules can delay the process. Technological tools such as Applicant Tracking System (ATS) have the option of self-scheduling, where candidates and interviewers can view a calendar and schedule interviews mutually. 

This will help reduce the time involved in logistics and reduce time delays.

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