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Candidate Ghosting

It is 4:45 pm, and you have an interview the following day with a candidate you feel good about. You have left a message and maybe a text or email throughout the day to confirm your interview, which is scheduled for the next morning at 8:30 am. Despite your confirmation attempts, there has been no response from your candidate. The candidate appeared promising over the phone, their resume is solid, so you err on the side of understanding and assume there is a logical explanation for their no call no show. Perhaps there was a family emergency? Or they are in a rural area with no data reception? Even more illogical, they were captured by aliens and on their way to a new planet? As a hiring manager, HR Professional, or Recruiter, has this scenario happened to you?

Fast forward to the next morning, it is 8:15 am and you still have hope that all the time you spent sourcing this candidate, phone screening them, and scheduling time out of your busy day to meet them, will pay off. 8:30 am comes and goes, your scheduled interview time has lapsed and you are left wondering what went wrong during the vetting process. Why did this candidate “ghost” me?

Ghosting (historically called a “no call/no show”) has unfortunately become common and you are not alone in your disappointment. According to the American Staffing Association, “more than 40% say Ghosting a potential employer is acceptable.” The truth is in the data. But why do candidates ghost and what can we do as hiring managers, HR professionals, and recruiters to mitigate the risk of being ghosted?

You must evaluate the phone-screen, and interview process. Too often, recruiters will have the “check-the-box mentality”, which means they called, they asked the questions required, and they scheduled the interview. This type of mindset and process will only facilitate ghosting.

In our market, where the National Unemployment Rate Average for 2019 (Jan-Oct) is 3.7%, career discussions and soft skills are critical to eliminate ghosting and vetting the right candidate for your organization. You must peel back the layers of the onion when interacting with potential candidates. What does this mean? What are these layers?

Below are a few examples of how to peel back the layers and have meaningful career discussions and properly leverage soft skills:

  1. Career Discussions
    • Set the expectation and standards of your company, the culture, the role you are hiring for CLARITY
    • Fact-finding questions – ask questions to vet whether this candidate understands and mirrors the expectations and standards you have laid out. Examples of fact-find questions: What is your vision? Why does your vision take you down this career path? What type of skill sets would you enhance/acquire?
  2. Soft Skills
    • Establish communication & reliability. Follow up with candidates as promised.
    • Exude confidence. You are the expert in the subject matter.
    • Practice listening. Applicants will tell you what they want.
    • Be empathetic. Each applicant is unique.

There is no safe proof method to prevent ghosting, but we can minimize being ghosted by being engaged, asking the right questions and really listening to what every potential candidate is saying. We must leave a lasting impression that these candidates are not just a name on a phone call roster.

Applying these practices will ensure you get one step closer to closing the ghosting gap in your profession.


Sources Cited

Bureau of Labor Statistics. (n.d.). https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000

Wolf, M. (2018). How to prevent candidates from ghosting [Lecture notes]. Retrieved from https://americanstaffing.net/webinars/how-to-prevent-candidates-from-ghosting/


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