Ghosting in recruitment doesn’t have to be a horror story


Luke Shipley on how to keep communication lines firing on all cylinders during the hiring process 

Ghosting isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about hiring a new employee, or when speaking to a potential employer. But with the shift to remote and digital-first work over the last few years, the way we recruit and employ people has changed – and with that comes new challenges and workplace trends. 

The best way to solve ghosting is to automate it away, since at some point even the most diligent recruiter is likely to let comms slip 

Originating from the world of online dating, ghosting is when someone disappears from a relationship without warning. In a workplace context, ghosting has come to mean when one party disappears from the interview process without notice.  

This can take place after the first communication or phone screening, during or after a series of job interviews, and even sometimes after the candidate receives or accepts a job offer.  

And it can go both ways – sometimes, you suddenly stop hearing from a potential employer, other times it’s the candidate that vanishes. 

Ghosting is becoming increasingly common; a recent survey by Indeed found 86% of UK jobseekers have not shown up for a job interview, while 20% of workers say businesses have failed to show up for a phone interview.  

And just because a candidate signs an offer letter doesn’t mean you’re in the clear; ghosting even in the late stages of hiring and onboarding are increasingly common, with 23% saying they have been provided with a verbal offer and then been cut off. 

Of course, there can be many reasons for a candidate to ghost – a change in financial situation or issues at home; a loss of interest in a role or even the pace of the job market – but it’s up to employers to create the most positive candidate experience possible to minimise the impact of these other factors.  

They expect results 

As an employer, it can be daunting and even challenging to respond in a timely fashion to all potential candidates; however, being one of the few to give each applicant the time of day will differentiate you in the long run.  

This is especially true if you’re a consumer brand, or your pool of candidates influences sales of your product. There can be a lot on the line. 

So what does best practice look like? Often, it’s just about timely acknowledgement. This sounds so simple, right? But I’ve experienced this firsthand as a recruiter.  

If you have open jobs that need filling, then you must decide between sending those personalised rejection emails or spending your last hour sourcing new candidates. Sourcing is one of those jobs that’s never finished, and there are only so many hours in the day.  

As a recruiter, you’ll always choose sourcing because you always need that one more candidate in process. That’s because recruiting departments prioritise time to hire and jobs filled as top metrics over the candidate experience.  

And this is where your behaviour as a brand can begin to damage future prospects and lead to ghosting.  

If, as an employer, your reputation is for slow correspondence and poor-quality communication with candidates, your candidates in future will eventually respond in kind. But it doesn’t have to be this way.  

We have the tools, we have the talent 

With only so many hours in a day, so many candidates to speak to, and too many roles to be filled, candidate communications must be automated.  

Businesses need modern ATS (applicant tracking system), onboarding, reference and background checking software. The best way to solve ghosting is to automate it away, since at some point even the most diligent recruiter is likely to let comms slip.  

The interactions with this technology are the first impression the candidate has of the business. They are amplified reflections of whether you choose modern, quality software – if you’re using old-fashioned tech, candidates will assume you’re off the pace as a business. 

By prioritising the candidate experience, employers can ensure they keep them updated and invested in the interview process – particularly in those industries that require quite lengthy and laborious background checks and vetting, such as education, financial services or healthcare.  

If a candidate has been put through three rounds of interviews, but then has to wait a month while you conduct a background check, they may well lose interest, move to a competitor that can onboard them faster, or withdraw from the process entirely. This only harms your own business.  

Who are you gonna call? 

It’s your responsibility as a business to take candidates on a positive journey with you, keep them invested, engaged and reassured throughout the recruitment process – and to minimise the risk of ghosting occurring.  

Automating a large portion of these communications is key to achieving this, and means you can recruit at speed, at scale and without the burden of communication being placed on your in-house recruiting team.  

At a time when there are record skills gaps and job vacancies, you cannot afford to offer a poor candidate experience – otherwise, you’ll miss out on the best talent and risk your business in the process. 

Luke Shipley, CEO and Co-Founder of Zinc 

Luke Shipley

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