Have you had a job candidate come in for an interview and then stop returning your calls and your emails?

Have you had a new hire work for a few weeks and then disappear?

All these behaviors happen in all levels of jobs (and The Wall Street Journal even shared a store of a job candidate who faked his own death to avoid telling a new company that he'd decided not to take their offer and stay with his old company.)

Now, let's all say this together, loudly and clearly: Ghosting people is rude. Unless your actual life is in danger by letting your boss know you quit or not showing up on the first day of work, you are being rude, rude, rude.

But, let's also say this clearly: Ghosting job candidates is just as rude. Giving someone a job offer, waiting until they've given their notice at their current job and then yanking it back is beyond rude--it's cruel. 

Employers have treated job candidates like items they can just grab off a shelf whenever they need them. Employers are so deep into the concept of "talent acquisition" that they forget why we called it recruiting in the first place--you actually have to convince someone to come with you when you recruit them. In acquisitions, you just take it. In the past, the unemployment levels were high and so you could just take candidates. Now, you really need to recruit them.

So, what can you do to reduce the chances of having a new hire ghost you?

Be honest. Don't try to convince a job candidate that your company is the best thing since sliced bread if it actually kind of stinks to work there. Make sure your job description reflects the true job. Don't say "hey, we'll just get someone on board and then we'll have the new person do these tasks we all hate" but don't bother to tell the new person about their unpleasant rite of passage. Just be honest. And if your honesty means no one wants to work for you--well then maybe you should fix some things.

Make decisions quickly. If you find a candidate that is a good fit--even if she's not perfect--make her an offer the same day as the interview. Sure, it might not be practical to do it on the spot (you should check with your HR person to make sure the offered salary is appropriate), but you certainly can do it the same day.

When you drag out your decision-making process, your candidate has more time to look for other jobs and you're indicating that you're not all that excited about the new candidate. You do not need to do 6 different rounds of interviews. You don't. So stop it. 

If you have a bunch of good candidates, naturally you don't want to make an offer until you've interviewed everybody, but streamline that as much as possible. Give answers, and fast.

Do not ghost candidates. Make sure your company gets back to every single person who interviews, even just to say "thanks but no thanks." Your applicant tracking system should have a way to send out an automated email once you click "position filled." 

If everyone stopped this juvenile behavior, then you'd see fewer job candidates ghosting you. Right now, turn about is fair play. Fix it on the hiring end.

Why candidates and new hires shouldn't ghost.

Ghosting is forever. Ghosting a firm means you will likely be on its do not hire list, forever--especially if you actually start work. Walking out on a job without notifying anyone will make you ineligible for rehire and that will follow you even if the small company you interviewed with is purchased by a bigger company. They transfer that data to the new company.

It ruins relationships. You also have blown the personal relationship not only with the hiring manager, but the recruiter, and anyone you met at that company. Careers are long and you will run into these people again. Suck it up, send an email (not a text) or make a phone call to turn down a job, or quit. If you've only been there a few weeks, two weeks' notice isn't necessary, but if you've been there for more than 6 months, plan on it. This goes both ways. You probably don't ever want to do business with the manager who ghosted you, but you probably have more to lose.

It's okay to quit. Companies have no loyalty to you, so if you feel like leaving is the right thing for your career, it's okay to quit. But, you do risk damaging the relationships if you've been there only a short time, don't give notice, or generally behave poorly. It's a small, small world. Think about what you need in 10 years, not just what is interesting today.

Both hiring managers and job candidates need to knock off the ghosting. Leave that for Halloween.

Published on: Jul 1, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.