What Can Companies Do About Ghosting?

You spend hours interviewing candidates for your company. A cast of thousands are involved in the selection process, from job postings and the interviewing process to making the offer. Executives are eager to bring the new hire on board and get him or her started. On start day or a few weeks into the position, the new hire just simply doesn’t show up. Perhaps the candidate was  moving cross country and decided half-way across the 1,000 mile trek that he no longer wanted to move. Perhaps the candidate worked a few weeks in a full-time role and decided to go back to a part-time position. Perhaps the new hire perceived his or her performance wasn’t up to snuff and didn’t let his insecurity get the better of him.

Not show up or suddenly ending all communication without any explanation is called “ghosting.” Companies say more and more candidates and new hires are ghosting them, disturbing hiring plans and rattling employee retention and their recruiters.

“All kinds of finger pointing goes on at the executive level because being “ghosted” is very upsetting – especially when you have come to trust a prospective employee,” says Claire Petrie, Talent Acquisition Manager in Buffalo, NY.

“A candidate can have great reference and go through the entire process from interview to background check, accept the offer and still be a no-show. I have given employees a call who didn’t answer. I have tried calling him again later in the day thinking he had an emergency. After calling a few times, I realized that my calls were being blocked. We also realized the individual had taken himself off of social media. He did not respond to emails either.”

Tanya Borouque, the founder of OpExpert, a boutique talent-acquisition consulting firm, said the rate of no-shows she experienced in 2018 increased, and attemps to follow-up with candidates are becoming increasingly futile.

“Last year for one position, we had four candidates out of 10 actually show up for interviews for example. I was mortified by the turnout and worked quickly to contact the candidates but received no response. I was left baffled and embarrassed,” said Borouque.

Ghosting represents a much bigger problem than hurt feelings or poor etiquette. No-shows are a real cost for organizations.

Experts tend to conclude that the ghosting trend is being driven by a labor market with more job openings than unemployed workers. With 2.3%  of employed workers are quitting their jobs ― the largest share since 2001, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

“This phenomenon always coincides with shifting labor market supply and demand,” said Will Staney, the founder of Proactive Talent, an Austin, Texas-based recruiting and consulting firm. “Candidate ghosting was last prevalent during the dot-com boom of the 90s and early 2000s.”
There is a behavioral shift among job seekers and workers.

The traditional thought process of “I apply for a job, I interview for a job, I get hired and I start the job” – those days are over. Workers are thinking of themselves as free agents. Candidates owe us nothing. This whole idea of loyalty and professionalism is archaic.

Employers need to set themselves up as available and attractive, and if someone chooses not to show up for an interview or a start date, instead of getting upset, move on, get creative and come up with new solutions and strategic alternatives. Some recruiters have begun stacking candidates and overbooking interviews, knowing up to half of the appointments for entry-level roles may not show up. Keep interviewing, keep talking to candidates, keep that pipeline going. Never stop recruiting. If that person ghosts or isn’t successful or any other reason, you’ve got backups.