Candidate Ghosting is On The Rise

The dating trend that has made its way to recruitment

Ghosting, the practice of disappearing without a word or a trace, has become a familiar and costly frustration of many human resource managers across industries. You’ve completed the interview process, decided on your top candidate, and sent out the offer letter—sounds like a win, right? Unfortunately for employers, the hiring process isn’t quite as predictable as it once was. The post-pandemic landscape means that the tables have turned and it is increasingly more common for candidates to cut off communications with employers.  In fact, candidates ghosting employers has increased by 10-20% over the past year alone. What’s more, according to a recent LinkedIn report, 95% of recruiters say they’ve experienced ghosting and a full 40% of candidates believe it’s reasonable to ghost an employer.

So, why are candidates ghosting employers?

In a candidate-driven job market, this new trend is leaving employers frustrated and confused. So what is behind this behavioral shift? Research by Robert Half found that 33% of candidates who cut off communications did because of a poor interview process – encompassing everything from unconducive interview scheduling to lack of transparency about the company, or even too many rounds of interviews. Another 23% ghosted because the job was not what they expected, and 16% disappeared without a word because the prospective employer implemented a mandatory return-to-office policy.

These findings underscore that even as employers evaluate candidates, the candidates are evaluating the company and the job in return – and they are expressing their opinions with their actions. They can afford to do so too, as the research shows that 29% of candidates who ghosted did so because they had received another job offer.

The underlying reason runs deeper than candidates simply having a choice. The Robert Half findings imply that employers are often not being sufficiently flexible about meeting candidates’ needs. Even the hiring managers surveyed recognise that, with 40% saying they lost out on a potential hire because the company could not or would not match the candidate’s desired schedule flexibility. A further 35% admitted the company had taken too long to make an offer – and the candidate moved on. And 24% said the company could not or would not meet the candidate’s salary expectations, whether these were reasonable or not.

What can employers do?

While this trend may be on the rise, there is a lot you can do to improve the talent journey at your company and ensure that you’re keeping candidates engaged—and communicative—throughout the process. Developing and implementing a proactive strategy to ensure a high-touch candidate experience can help you significantly minimise the risk of being ghosted. Here’s how to put one in place.

Develop a clear and concise talent acquisition strategy

Attracting the candidates you want starts with a recruitment strategy built on transparency and communication. The best way to do that is to work with your team to clarify your business needs for each hire and be sure that you’re keeping candidates in the loop from the beginning.  Have you made it clear from the outset what your processes and timelines are?  Do the candidates understand the stages and the gaps between each stage?  In addition to increasing the success of your recruitment efforts, this type of strategy can also help you tell your employer brand story in an authentic way. The best part? It could help to turn your candidates into your advocates or even clients. In fact, 64% of candidates who have a great talent journey say they intend to grow their relationship with the employer—even if they don’t get the job.

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Far too many employers have ghosted candidates in the past, and it is a practice they’ve become used to, but when it comes to the interview process, the majority of candidates agree: there is nothing worse than being left in the dark. In fact,  48% of candidates feel frustrated by employers who don’t keep them updated on where they stand. The solution? You can manage each stage of the process with automated messaging so that candidates know where they are.  You know your process inside out, but candidates do not and often think the worst.  Those 48 hours that you are waiting for feedback from the hiring manager can feel like 48 days to the candidate, and you are allowing time for other organisations to poach your talent.

Above all, don’t hesitate to send a follow-up note if you don’t hear back right away. This is a great way to let candidates know that you’re not planning to ghost them and makes it significantly less likely that they’ll ghost you.

Speed up your decision-making process

According to an SHRM study, the average vacancy is taking 42 – 63 days to fill at the moment, but yet top talent is only on the market for 10 days.  So if we cannot go through our process more efficiently we are highly likely to lose the best talent to our competitors, are we then really surprised that candidates are ghosting? Employers should be aiming for a frictionless process that decreases time-to-hire without compromising the quality of hire.  During the early days of the pandemic, Testgrid worked closely with Coles when they had to suddenly hire 13,000 roles in 2 weeks, to keep the toilet paper on the shelves. We helped them streamline their hiring process, without compromising the quality of candidates that were being hired.  So within just a couple of days, the candidates were applying, being assessed for job fit using a 2-minute personality assessment, completing a recorded video interview that was screened within 24 hours by the store managers, and then an expedited onboarding process. You can read more about that here.  Streamlining the process is possible, so the question is what would that look like in your organisation? Are you utilising technology and assessments to expedite the process?

Although candidate ghosting is certainly a concerning trend, it doesn’t have to negatively impact your organisation. By being transparent, communicative, and putting your candidates first, you can establish a strong relationship and minimise the risk of being ghosted.

Ready to optimise your candidate experience? Learn how in our latest guide, where you will discover how to keep candidates happy and engaged. Want to talk to us about a personalised approach, get in touch!


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