If you're a hiring manager, you've probably had a promising job candidate suddenly stop answering your calls, texts, and email. As early as 2019, more than four out of five companies have been ghosted by a job candidate at least once.
The behavior stems from the world of online dating, where ghosting is the de facto and pain-free (for the ghoster) way to say: "I'm not interested." Since job hunting, like hooking up, now takes place primarily online, it's only logical there's crossover behavior.
It's maladroit, though, for companies to complain about being ghosted, considering that many, if not most, firms ghost candidates after they've been interviewed but won't be offered the job. Nevertheless, being ghosted sucks in any situation.
There is one basic reason a candidate will ghost a potential employer: Somewhere in the process, the employer convinced the candidate that not only do they not want the job but they don't ever want to work for you in the future.
Why would a candidate feel this way? Three reasons:
- They applied on impulse but then reconsidered. Sites like ZipRecruiter and LinkedIn make applying to a job as easy as hooking up on Tinder. Because the candidate didn't have to put much time and effort into applying for the job, they may not be committed enough to follow through.
- You didn't make a prompt offer. According to a study conducted by Indeed.com, almost a third of job candidates ages 18 to 24 (and almost a fifth of older candidates) ghosted a potential employer because "the hiring process was too slow or too long." Job candidates know that a long wait means you don't have your act together.
- They did their research and found your skeletons. If your company is a lousy place to work, disgruntled employees are going to anonymously grouse about you online. Back in the day, a company could hide a toxic culture behind an inspirational mission statement. Today, not so much.
How to Keep From Getting Ghosted
You can greatly reduce the likelihood job candidates will ghost you by taking the following three steps, two of which are simple but one of which is likely to prove a whole lot more challenging. I'll start with the two easy ones:
- Follow up immediately on any promising nibbles. Since a candidate might not be entirely serious at first, if that candidate looks interesting, you arrange a telephone conversation like right now, so you can sell the candidate on working for you.
- Compress your hiring cycle. Maybe getting every stakeholder on board made sense when a job offer entailed lifetime employment. Today, job hopping is the norm, so there's less at stake.
- Make your workplace a great place to work. This, of course, is the challenging step, because, sad to say, once a company has a toxic culture it's almost impossible to change it for the better.
So what if that last step is too challenging? Well, in that case, you'll need to treat being ghosted as a cost of doing business poorly.