The term ‘ghosting’ is something which is usually used in the context of a relationship, but is becoming increasingly common in the world of recruitment. If you haven’t come across it before, it refers to a person suddenly stopping communicating, seeming to just disappear without so much as a word of explanation. In a relationship, this is upsetting; in recruitment it’s downright troublesome. Candidates ghosting businesses is frustrating, time-wasting and expensive but before you start shaking your fists with rage, let’s try and understand why recruiters are getting ghosted in the first place, and what can be done to avoid it happening.
Ghosting can happen at any point during the hiring process and takes many forms. A candidate may seem really keen during an interview, may even have accepted a job offer you’ve made them, and then suddenly go radio-silent. Sometimes candidates may simply not attend a scheduled interview. In some cases, candidates accept a job and then never show up on their first day. In extreme examples, a candidate who starts a new role may just stop coming to work one day – no letter of resignation, no working their notice period, nada. This would leave any business in a tricky situation with a vacancy urgently needing filling and having to start the hiring process from scratch.
Ghosting works both ways, though – the majority of candidates will unfortunately have experienced this from recruiters, applying to a job or going for an interview and then never hearing from the company or receiving any feedback.
1. Expectation vs. Reality
Have you overpromised on a job, misleading a talented candidate in order to sell the role to them? A candidate may feel that what is said in the job advert is not reflected in reality when they go for an interview with a company. Or they may have been really excited about the role throughout the interview process, but when they start actually working at the company, the culture and environment don’t match up to the image they’ve been given – or their day-to-day role may not be what the job description suggested. The contrast between what they’ve been led to expect, versus the reality of the role, can lead to candidates ghosting.
To avoid this, make sure your job adverts are written clearly, being as honest as possible, and reflecting your company culture accurately. Of course, you want to make the role appealing to candidates, but lying to try and entice people is a bad idea, and one any talented candidate will see through pretty sharpish. Anyone hiring would want to say that they’re a great company to work for, but it’s best to show people why, rather than giving generalisations – be specific and include things like any training or benefits, or team activities which make it a fun and friendly environment to work in.
Make sure the job descriptions are a true representation of a person’s role and responsibilities within the business, so they’re clear on what will be expected of them. Involve the new starter’s up-line manager or anyone they will be reporting to, so that the information in the job description reflects what the role will be like in reality.
2. Encourage feedback throughout the hiring process
Keep in regular contact with candidates at every stage of the application process, whether this is by email or phone calls, to update them on the progress of their application and get their feedback. Ask how they feel about the role, and whether they have any concerns or anything they’re unsure of about the role – reassure them that voicing these concerns will not affect the success of their application, but it’s just to ensure that they’re fully informed about the role and are happy to proceed to the next stage.
3. Keep hiring short and sweet
A long, drawn-out hiring process isn’t enjoyable for anyone. A certain level of candidate drop-off is to be expected, but can be reduced by making the application process as smooth and speedy as possible. Candidates burn up a lot of time and effort applying for jobs and interviewing, and they appreciate being kept informed about their progress regardless of whether they’re successful or not. Keep the momentum going by promptly responding to candidates from the moment they apply, to any questions they have about the role, to giving interview feedback. Consider using chatbots to keep communication flowing and help speed up admin tasks such as shortlisting and arranging interviews.
4. Have a strong employer brand
An effective employer brand helps to engage and attract the most talented candidates, and make them want to stick around. Your need to show candidates why you’re a great place to work and why they should apply for your roles over your competitors. Create clear, consistent messaging across your website, career site, social media pages, and within your recruitment materials – ensure every candidate touchpoint communicates your brand values and the benefits of working for your business.
5. Make candidate experience your top priority
The foundation for great recruitment is giving candidates a positive experience throughout the hiring process. Make this the focus of your recruitment efforts, always putting the candidate first, treating them with respect, kindness and empathy – use the golden rule of treating others as you would wish to be treated. Humanise your hiring process by effectively communicating with candidates and showing you care about them as an individual. This will not only help you create a solid employer brand, but also makes it less likely that you’ll be ghosted – candidates who are looked after well, being treated with the same level of care whether they are successful with their application or not, will have little reason to go silent on you.
You won’t be able to completely avoid the risk of being ghosted – sometimes even after doing everything right and nurturing a candidate, they will still disappear with no obvious reason. A candidate may have got a better offer from another company, and want to avoid having an awkward conversation with you, or simply not want to let you down. By following this advice you’ll reduce the likelihood of being ghosted, and create a better experience for all candidates you deal with – meaning that even if they aren’t offered the job, they will still view you and your brand in a positive light.