Ghosting is a slang term first used to describe the ending of a personal relationship by withdrawing from all communication without explanation.
While once relegated to the dating scene, ghosting has become a problem for HR professionals who, after spending time and resources courting a qualified job candidate find themselves completely cut off from contact (i.e., ghosted).
In today's tight job market, ghosting has become more frequent because candidates have a lot of options and technology makes it easy to apply for multiple jobs. Some candidates are just fishing to see what's out there, and others have blanketed the area with resumes and have varying interest in the jobs they applied for.
Sometimes ghosting occurs in the early stages of the process, and a candidate won't call back to schedule an interview or won't show up for the initial interview. While early-stage ghosting is annoying, it isn't that costly. More and more, however, it's happening after an offer has been extended, or even accepted, meaning time and money have already been invested in the new hire.
Here's a common ghosting scenario: After accepting an offer from Company A, the job seeker receives a better offer from Company B, so the job seeker goes to work for Company B but avoids having an awkward conversation with Company A by simply ignoring all communications from the frantic hiring manager.
Employee Relations Management Today
Get expert insight and advice to strengthen and reinforce employee management skills. Remind those who manage employees how workplace issues can escalate into legal action, and how their actions can result in liability for themselves and the company.
An ounce of prevention
Once ghosting happens, there's little that can be done about it, but there are some practices that may help prevent it from happening in the first place:
- Shorten the hiring process.The shelf life of good candidates is short these days. Try to schedule interviews with all candidates in a tight window so you can make an offer sooner.
- Assume candidates have other irons in the fire.Be aware of what your competitors are offering as far as salary and benefits so that you can compete for talent.
- Don't promise more than you can deliver.With job seekers in the driver's seat, you can't get away with over-selling a position or company. Discovering that reality doesn't live up to what they were promised in the job posting or interview is the most likely reason for ghosting.
- Don't leave them hanging after they accept an offer.Engage them with immediate and frequent communication that will underscore that this is the job they want.
- Avoid potential re-ghosting.Keep a no-hire list of job candidates who have ghosted you in case they apply again in a few months.
- Delay rejection.Don't send that "thank you for your interest" email to your runner-up applicants until the new hire has actually been on the job a week or so. But do send one to avoid being labeled a ghoster yourself.
- Assume that no response is a response.If you have repeatedly reached out just to get a candidate to schedule an interview, chances are they've got another job on the line and you're just their back-up, which means the risk for ghosting is high.
- Overbook.If you've got four exceptional applicants, dig deeper and schedule interviews with some from the next tier in case some don't show up. But don't ghost those you interview who won't be getting an offer. You might want to revisit them for future openings.
- Onboard as quickly and thoroughly as possible.While it's less likely a new hire will ghost you after a few weeks on the job, it's still possible. Help new hires feel a part of the team right away.
Key to remember: While there's nothing you can do to completely eliminate the risk of ghosting by job candidates, there are best practices that can make it a rare phenomenon.
You may also enjoy the following articles:
Additional articles by Judy Kneiszel: