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What Are Some Tips To Prevent Candidates From Ghosting?

Box character running away from ghosts

Updated June 2022

HR Question:

Candidates are continuing to disappear while we’re in the middle of our recruiting process – why is this happening and what can I do about this ghosting phenomenon?

HR Answer:

Great question, and one that doesn’t have just one answer. In a survey conducted by Robert Half earlier this year, candidates shared the following reasons for ghosting potential employers:

  •  A poor interview process (33%)
  • Receiving another job offer (29%)
  • The realization that the job was not what they expected (23%)
  • A mandatory return-to-office policy was implemented (16%)

While not all of these reasons are within your control (i.e., the candidate receiving another job offer or a return-to-office policy being implemented), there are actions that you can take to mitigate some of the reasons candidates are ghosting throughout your recruiting process.

Provide Accurate and Transparent Communication from the Beginning

Providing clear and concise communication long before your candidates walk in the door can help reduce your ghosting rates. For example, does your job ad paint a clear picture of the job responsibilities, benefits, and culture? Does it convey what the candidate’s potential experience would be like in a way that’s accurate and attractive? If candidates begin to feel that they may be at the receiving end of a bait-and-switch, it’s easy to see why they may quickly abandon ship in favor of more transparent offerings.

Additionally, in this intense candidate-driven market, it’s important to remain in constant contact with your candidates so they feel engaged throughout the process. Doing so may build relationships that create a sense of responsibility in the candidates to reach out if they’ve changed their mind. However, this sense of responsibility goes both ways. When surveyed by CareerPlug, nearly 70% of job seekers reported having had a poor experience with an employer or recruiter, and nearly 60% of job seekers declined a job offer due to that poor experience. In the same study, 37% percent of those respondents said they shared their negative experience online, further impeding the employers’ reputation and ability to attract the necessary talent.

Remember the Interview Process is a Two-Way Street

Of course, a primary goal of an interview is to assess whether a candidate is a good fit for the job and your organization. But don’t forget that the interview process is a two-way street – candidates are trying to assess if they can see themselves working with you and succeeding in your organization. The experience they have during the interview, along with the people they meet, will shape their thoughts and feelings about the job and your organization, so make sure it’s a good one!

A few things you can do to ensure a positive interview experience are:

  • Let candidates know what to expect before their interview. Provide directions, parking information, and an agenda listing who they will meet with and what they will be discussing.
  • Include multiple employees in the process. It is helpful for candidates to meet multiple employees in the interview process to help give them a better sense of the team of people with whom they would work. This also allows for a faster and smoother transition into your organization if they are ultimately hired.
  • Provide interview training. Make sure that anyone who is involved in the interview process (and this includes a front desk receptionist!) is prepared to be a good host for candidates. Provide job descriptions, interview questions or topics to be covered, interview agenda, and candidates’ resumes ahead of time so that all interviewers arrive prepared and ready for productive discussions. Also, interviewers should be coached to not dominate the conversations. While they can provide information about the position and/or the company, they are also there to learn about the candidate’s background and experience.
  • Make time for candidate questions. Be sure that candidates have ample time to ask questions during the interview process.

Listen and Respond to Job Seekers’ Needs

By cultivating a culture of good communication in your recruitment process, you not only elevate your employer brand as a desirable place to work where people are valued, but you can also create the opportunity for candidates to share what is important to them.

For example, by encouraging frequent and transparent communication, candidates may be more willing to express exactly what they need in order to join your team. Maybe it’s a quick turnaround (especially if they have other offers on the table), or maybe it’s additional flexibility in the role to achieve the work/life balance they’re looking for. If those needs are within your ability to meet, a little flexibility may go a long way.

Cultivate a Positive Online Reputation

Among the various reasons that potential employees are ghosting, some of them may also point to the image that an employer portrays online. Job seekers expect to be able to easily learn a lot about your organization through multiple channels beyond your website, and if they can’t easily find the information online, that in and of itself speaks volumes. Not surprisingly, they will also be on the lookout for company reviews. Therefore, we recommend a couple of simple steps to help develop or maintain a positive online reputation.

First, make sure you’re active on social media. If you’re in the process of trying to catch the next wave of employees, consumers, or influencers, you’re going to be caught in the surf without some form of active social media presence. This can provide a great way for job seekers to get to know your company through frequent and timely messages, images, and videos.

Secondly, make sure you’re staying on top of any online reviews. In a world that revolves around constant and instant communication, bad news can travel fast, and negative reviews can have a significant impact. When dealing with negativity in your web presence, a quick, factual, and polite response will show potential employees and potential customers that you are a respectful and reputable partner in the whole process. (Looking for more tips and tricks when dealing with negative reviews? Check out our HR Question of the Week: Can Glassdoor Reviews Impact Your Company and Your Recruiting Efforts.)

In the end, we are clearly in the midst of a candidate’s job market with multiple options at their fingertips. Therefore, it is important to understand why you’re seeing an increase in candidate ghosting because this can lead you to actionable solutions. Our best advice is to review and improve what is within your control. Put yourself in the candidates’ shoes – walk through your recruitment process to look for ways to adjust, improve, and streamline the process, and continue to build an employer brand that great candidates want to be a part of.

Special thanks to Samantha Kelly and Amy Turner, Six Sigma Black Belt for contributing to this edition of our HR Question of the Week. 

Do you struggle to find qualified individuals that fit your culture and make productive, long-term employees? Finding the right people to “fit” your jobs is critical to your organization’s success. That’s why Strategic HR utilizes a variety of resources to help clients source, screen, and select the best candidates and employees. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information on how we can help you effectively and efficiently find your next employee.