What to Do When a Job Candidate Ghosts You

By Robert Half on March 6, 2019 at 2:15pm

The job seeker’s profile is perfect. And in your first in-person meeting with the candidate, the two of you seemed to click. But since the interview, you haven’t heard a peep, even though you’ve sent several messages and even tried calling. Welcome to the frustrating world of candidate ghosting.

The dating world coined the word “ghosting” to describe when a person abruptly cuts off all contact and seems to vanish from the face of the earth with no explanation. In the professional realm, this scenario is increasingly common as well. Robert Half district president Josh Howarth said there’s been a 10 to 20 percent increase in ghosting over the past year.

To avoid being ghosted during the hiring process, you need to first understand this trend.

Why job candidates ghost

To some extent, the rise of professional ghosting is due to a general erosion of once-sacrosanct etiquette standards. Many of today’s job seekers would rather avoid confrontation and awkwardness than deliver bad news. You could also call it payback or karma, as hiring managers have long been known to ghost people after interviews.

But the main explanation is that workers simply have more choices today. In the current market, managers are struggling to fill vacancies while skilled candidates often field multiple job offers. With so many options, candidates simply may not care whether they burn a few bridges along the way. This is particularly true among entry-level positions with lower wages.

Additionally, workers care about corporate culture when seeking employment. If a candidate feels your company’s values don’t align with their preferences, they may simply stop communicating with you and focus on other potential employers instead.


How to avoid being ghosted by job candidates

Should you just shrug your shoulders and consider that ghosting is the new normal? Not necessarily. Here are some steps you can take to reduce your chances of being ghosted by job seekers.

Streamline your hiring process. Other employers are likely courting your dream applicants as well, so you need to make your move quickly. Interview your top candidates right away rather than waiting for a critical mass before you bring them all in.

Play by the Golden Rule. Ghosting works both ways. You don’t like it, and neither do job seekers. When you treat them with respect, your company will gain a reputation for being considerate and professional. So, make it a point to communicate promptly with all candidates — not just the ones you’re interested in hiring. People talk.

Make an offer they can’t refuse. With record-low unemployment rates, you don’t have the luxury of lowballing the salary, even if you’re willing to negotiate it higher. You can avoid turning off your top pick if you extend above-average compensation right away. A sign-on bonus, telecommuting option and other top perks would sweeten the deal.

Use alternative forms of communication. Some millennials and Gen Zers don’t check email often. And they are unlikely to take a phone call from an unknown number. If you’re having trouble reaching interviewees, send them a text message instead.

Craft messages that encourage a response. Win interviewees back to the table with persuasive language. Personalize the communication by mentioning what you admire about their skill set and how they’d be a valuable addition to your team. End the message with specific next steps, such as “I’d like to schedule a follow-up meeting for later this week to discuss the job offer and a possible start date.”

As long as skilled candidates have the upper hand, employers run the risk of being ghosted. The key is to treat job seekers fairly and with respect, and then hope they have the courtesy of doing the same.

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