How To Get Over Being Ghosted… By Job Candidates

September 5, 2018

You’ve been interviewing for an open position and, to your delight, you’ve actually found a couple of candidates who look extremely promising. One is particularly interesting (and interested!) and offers the education and experience that’s perfect for the job. So you do what anyone would do: you follow up….and follow up….but nothing. No response.

After several unanswered messages with nothing in return – face it. You’ve just been ghosted.

If you’ve never heard of it before, the term being “ghosted” gained popularity in recent years within the pop culture and specifically dating world as a way to describe when a person who initially acts very interested in you suddenly, without warning, becomes totally non-responsive – cutting all ties and communication. What it typically means is that the person who is “ghosting” you is just not interested and wants to avoid an awkward negative confrontation (albeit, in a very immature and inefficient way).

When you look at how job searches and recruiting processes go today, you’ll find that ghosting has unfortunately started spilling over from the dating world into the job search world. With unemployment rates hovering at a record low of 3.9%, the competition for highly-qualified job candidates is fierce and in turn, stronger in-demand candidates feel like they have the license to be non-committal and partake in this “ghosting” behavior.

If you’re finding that you’re being ghosted by job candidates despite all your best efforts, here are 9 ways to handle it:

Proactively Stop the Madness

Take action in advance to lessen the chances of being ghosted.

  • Manage your employer brand. According to iCims‘ 2017 The Modern Job Seeker Report, nearly 1 in 3 workers have declined a job offer primarily because the company had negative online employer reviews. Work with marketing to take stock of your company’s brand. If it’s lacking, improve your branding message and its visibility to potential job candidates.
  • Update your screening criteria. Operating too far out from your list of required skills sets you up to deal with job seekers who will cause problems. Trash the resumes that don’t fit the position. A better-quality pool on the front end minimizes issues in the final stages.

During the Interview

Excel at “giving good candidate experience” and you won’t need to deal with ghosting from job candidates nearly as often.

  • Offer undivided attention. Doing six things at once may be your standard operating procedure, but it won’t create warm fuzzies between your company and the talent. Drop the smartphone, close the tablet, and focus your attention on the job seeker. Remember, in this hiring climate, he or she is weighing you as much as you’re measuring them.
  • Lay out specific timelines. The vague “we’ll be in touch” does little to build a positive relationship with the applicant. At the end of the interview, be honest about the next step. Explain how many applicants will move forward, when the decision will be made, and when they can expect to hear from you.
  • Stay professional and friendly.  83% of job seekers say a negative interview experience can alter their opinion of a position or company they once regarded positively. If candidates feel marginalized they’ll be less likely to return your calls. Don’t act like you are doing them a favor by interviewing them. Smile and be inviting. Ask the important questions but make sure it’s not in a rapid-fire, accusatory way. Don’t interrupt or act rushed.
  • Ask them how they like to communicate. Is a phone call acceptable, or would they rather text? If job seekers, especially younger ones, feel like communication is old-fashioned, they may be less inclined to sign on as an employee.

After the Interview

High-performers are often won or lost between the end of the interview and the arrival of the offer letter.

  • Follow up quickly. Don’t expect good quality hires to wait around for weeks. If you do, you may never hear from them again once you actually do get in touch. Moving the process forward gives you a better chance of snagging them over your competition.
  • Read the signs. If candidates act less than enthused with the offer or stop answering your calls, these are red flags. Maybe the salary wasn’t enough, or they are in hot talks with another company. According to MRINetwork’s 2016 Recruiter and Employer Sentiment Study, 47% of people reject job offers because of another offer, and 25% because the compensation is less than expected. If you want them, step up efforts to find out.
  • Learn from the experience. If you do get ghosted, study the process and pinpoint where it went awry. It’s time to review your processes, company culture, salary and benefits package, and candidate experience.

Getting ghosted hurts, but it can be a wake up call to outdated processes or too-slow procedures. By analyzing what went wrong and working to improve it, you will progress with a higher-performing recruiting process from beginning to end.



For more best practices on attracting talent into your organization and employer branding, check out our free resources that we’ve made specifically for company leaders, HR and talent acquisition teams.

Linda Le Phan
Senior Content Marketing Manager at kununu.

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