Candidate Ghosting — Why It Happens and How to Solve It

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Posted by: David Garcia November 05, 2023

Have you heard of candidate ghosting and want to know how to stop it? 

There are many reasons a candidate may ghost a potential employer; luckily, there are also things employers can do to address these issues before they arise. 

Here, we’ll cover exactly what candidate ghosting is and how employers can help prevent it from happening to them. 

What Is Candidate Ghosting?

Candidate ghosting – not to be confused with ghost recruiting – is when a job applicant abruptly cuts contact with a potential job without giving any notice or feedback. 

Imagine this: After a long search and application process, you finally have a candidate you want to move forward with. They fit your company well and bring valuable experience to bring to the table. 

Then, they suddenly stop responding to your correspondence. You’ve been left high and dry without explanation – you’ve been ghosted. 

While this is frustrating for employers, it’s important to recognize that it’s far more common for prospective candidates to be ghosted by potential jobs. 

This practice is irritating and harmful to both sides, but there are several things employers can do to help prevent ghosting before it happens. 

Why Are Candidates Ghosting Before, During, and After Interviews?

Many things can happen during the hiring process that can deter an applicant away from the job. They may experience changes in their personal life, receive better offers elsewhere, or realize the job is a bad fit as they go through the interview process

There are many reasons an applicant may ghost, but there are also several common-sense things employers can do to create an effective recruitment process to reduce this occurrence. Below are some of the most common reasons candidates abandon the application process.

Long or Complex Application Process

Job seekers have many opportunities in this strong labor market, so they’re less willing to jump through hoops to get a certain job. Long or complex applications and interviews are some of the top reasons someone may abandon a prospective job – they can always find another company that values their time more. 

A bad application may look like long or repetitive application questionnaires, having a candidate submit their resume and then requiring them to enter the same information later in the application, or requiring any unpaid work, such as creating a sample website or working a trial shift. 

Lengthy interview processes are another big cause of ghosting. Interviews often require candidates to take time off from their current job, so requiring multiple interviews can be a big turn-off.

Inaccurate Job Titles or Descriptions

Using inaccurate or inflated job titles or descriptions during the recruiting process can cause major issues down the line, including candidate ghosting, employee dissatisfaction, and high turnover rates. Applicants who ghost for this reason usually realize – often during the interview – that their actual job duties don’t line up with the expectations set by the job advertisement. 

This situation can make the candidates feel like they’ve been misled or even lied to. Experiencing a discourtesy like this is a major cause of candidate ghosting.

Competing Job Offers

Sometimes, the best explanation is the simplest one – many instances of applicant ghosting happen because they’ve gotten a better offer elsewhere. This situation is a reality of any job market; companies who can’t or aren’t willing to pay more will lose out on good candidates. 

Another possibility is that the candidate used the position to negotiate a higher salary elsewhere. These candidates would cut contact near the end of the process after an offer has been made. 

The best way to prevent ghosting for these reasons is to make strong, competitive offers immediately. Making prospective hires feel valued and respected goes a long way in gaining and retaining employees.

Past History of Employer Ghosting 

While candidate ghosting seems to be on the rise after the pandemic, it’s important to recognize that ghosting by prospective employers is also very common. People who prospective employers have ghosted in the past are much more likely to disappear during an application process. 

These people may misinterpret company communication gaps as having been ghosted and move on to other opportunities. Communicating regularly and clearly with candidates as they navigate the application process can help alleviate this problem.

Misrepresented Salary or Benefits

Misrepresented salaries or benefits are a big – and preventable – cause of candidate ghosting. Reaching the negotiation phase of an application process requires a lot of time and energy on the candidate’s part. While many job listings advertise a salary range, they often make offers on the lower end of that range. 

Putting in all that effort to receive a bad offer makes it seem like the company doesn’t value or respect the candidate, who may feel like the company deserves the same treatment. 

Remote work is another big one. Many companies know this is a very desirable benefit and will advertise that they allow remote work when the reality may be otherwise. While remote work doesn’t fit every industry, COVID-19 has shown us that many desk jobs can be done just as well – if not better – from home. 

This arrangement greatly benefits employees, giving them several hours of their lives back each week by eliminating commute times and expenses. Denying this without good reason when it has so many benefits for workers is often seen as disrespectful by current and prospective employees. It is a major reason people ghost a prospective job – or leave their current one. 

Why Is Candidate Ghosting an Issue?

Employees hold a lot of power in the current job market. Here’s why it’s such a problem for companies when a good applicant ghosts. 

Prolongs the Hiring Process

Hiring is expensive for companies. Things like recruiting and interviewing take time and money. When a candidate ghosts, companies must go back to square one, prolonging the spending and keeping vacant positions empty.

Removes Opportunity for Feedback

Candidate ghosting can be frustrating for hiring managers, especially when they don’t know what caused it. It removes the opportunity for them to address whatever issues the candidate had.

Negative Repercussions for Job Seekers

Ghosting can also have negative repercussions for candidates, especially if they work in a niche market. Companies and recruiters often flag candidates who ghost, which can make it harder for them to apply for other jobs in the future. 

How to Reduce Candidate Ghosting During the Recruitment Process

The best way to reduce candidate ghosting is to provide the application process you want to experience. Here are some tips.

Be Transparent 

Be upfront and transparent about the expectations and timeline of the application process. Maintain regular communication, even if there are no updates. Doing so shows the candidate you’re still interested and that you value their skills and experience. 

Create a Meaningful Application 

Respect a candidate’s time. Create a simple and streamlined application process that doesn’t ask repetitive questions. 

Avoid frivolous questions, like “Which crayon color represents you?” and ask about their experiences and goals instead. 

Make the Offer You Would Want to Receive

Nearly a quarter of job applicants who’ve ghosted say it was due to the offered salary not meeting expectations. Don’t lowball good candidates in negotiations – make them an offer they can’t refuse. Offering a good and competitive salary right off the bat shows respect for the candidate, their time, and their experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What To Do if a Candidate Ghosts You?

The best thing to do if you think a candidate has ghosted you is to follow up through various methods of communication, such as phone, email, and LinkedIn messages. Be patient and give them ample time to respond. If you don’t hear back after several days, consider moving on to other candidates. 

Final Thoughts

Candidate ghosting hosting is a common problem in today’s job market for both candidates and employers. When a candidate ghosts, it could be because the job responsibilities, salary, or benefits don’t meet their expectations. A candidate may also ghost if there are long gaps in communication from the company. 

The best thing employers can do to prevent ghosting is to create a reasonable and transparent application process that respects the candidate’s time, energy, and experience. 

Hiring the right candidate is also important, and ScoutLogic can help. ScoutLogic’s screening services can help you make sure that job candidates are the right fit for the job so you don’t spend time and money onboarding the wrong people.

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