Ghosting: What It Is & How to Respond

In the world of dating, to be ghosted means to have someone abruptly end all contact and the relationship without any explanation. This situation of someone dropping off the face of the planet doesn’t just happen to people romantically (unfortunately!). In recent trends, employers are seeing more and more applicants blowing off interviews, new hires not showing up, and workers abruptly not return to work.

Current talent markets work in favour of the candidates and allow them to be picky about which opportunities they pursue and stick around for. So what can you, as an employer or recruiter do to keep candidates engaged enough to see your opportunities through? Consider the following perspectives:

Understand the candidate’s motive from the start

Frances Wilk, Head of Talent Acquisition at  Breather says that “Oftentimes, candidates can be passively going through your hiring process even if they’re not actually interested. They go through the motions just to see what’s out there, or to use your offer as leverage for their current employer. As an employer, you need to make sure the candidate is truly engaged and interested from the get-go”. She says that while you can’t control this entirely, you should be able to sniff out their level of interest once they are going through your hiring process.

One way to do this is to shift the focus of the interview from what the company is looking for, onto what the candidate is looking for. Ask them questions about their goals, interest and career plans to get a better sense of where they are and what they are looking for. Understand how this opportunity connects to their overall career path and what drew them to it originally. This will not only help you understand their motives but show the candidate that you are invested in helping them achieve their future career goals.

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Poke holes in your own process and improve

Aristotle once said that “knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” This definitely holds true in the recruitment process! If you want to better understand why candidates are dropping off the map, look towards your own process to see where the candidate experience could be improved. Wilk says “Make sure your process is tight and that there’s no room for error. Don’t leave candidates hanging for too long in between interviews, and be clear and upfront about what the process entails from the beginning”.

Take a look at things like your time to hire, your touchpoints between interviews, what is required out of each interview, and your overall recruitment process, as problems here can impact the candidate’s impression of your company. If a candidate is waiting around too long to hear back from you, chances are they will pursue other opportunities, so be sure to keep them in the loop and provide feedback and transparency as much as possible!

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Follow up before assuming the worst

Once a candidate goes cold, Wilk says “to follow up with a call and an email. If after a few days you don’t hear anything, eventually you send an email to rescind the offer. It can happen that they’ll come back with an apology and some sort of explanation. I’m always hesitant to re-offer but go with your gut.”

Remember that great candidates are juggling many great offers, so it’s up to you to communicate the opportunity and follow up in a way that entices the candidate and gets their attention.

Deliver on your promises

If a candidate accepts a job and shortly after ghosts your organisation, it could be a strong indicator that there was a gap between their expectations and reality. As an employer, you need to be honest about the culture, policies, and what to expect in the interview so that candidates are not surprised to find something totally different when they arrive on day one. You need to draw a hard line between selling the opportunity and being realistic about what people can expect if they join your organisation.

Wilk says that “At the end of the day, you have to do your part ensuring your recruitment process is tight and the candidate is engaged all the way through, without any red flags. However, sometimes people just throw you a curveball and unfortunately, we have to take the hit. The hardest thing about recruitment is that you’re dealing with people, and you can’t control their actions”.

Don’t get ghosted this year and take these steps the next time a candidate gets cold feet!

Stacy Pollack is a Human Resources professional with a passion for improving the workplace. She began her career in recruitment and quickly fell in love with training and organizational development. She is passionate about coaching and helping people succeed at work. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or at www.stacypollack.com

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Glassdoor’s UK Job & Hiring Trends for 2020