Top 6 Reasons Your Candidates Are Ghosting You

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Top 6 Reasons Your Candidates Are Ghosting You

Are you suddenly being faced with interview no-shows, voicemail when you follow up, and even non-starters after a candidate has accepted a job offer? If you are, then your candidates are ghosting you.

Unfortunately, you are not alone.

Candidates exercising control over the recruitment process (and sometimes throwing in a few wrenches!) has become a growing trend.


There’s a growing global skills gap and unemployment is currently at a record low in many countries. This means that skilled and qualified candidates can literally choose where they want to work and dictate their paycheck.

Additionally, ghosting is a growing (and almost accepted) social trend, inevitably seeping into the social component of the recruitment process.

Ghosting can happen to any recruiter, no matter what kind of process you have in place. But if you’re becoming a regular victim, then chances are you’re not keeping pace with the evolving jobseeker mindset and hiring trends.

So how do you start combatting candidate ghosting?

Like everything in recruitment: Communication

You’ll never be able to eliminate dropouts completely. But you can spot red flags if you regularly engage with candidates. Once you start allowing long time lapses between communications, it becomes easier for candidates to ignore you. In most cases, if you’ve treated a candidate professionally and made them feel valued, they will reciprocate with the same.

There is a school of thought among job applicants that recruiters mistreat candidates, so there’s no harm in treating recruiters the same way. Unfortunately, it’s true that recruiters have always had the upper hand in the hiring process and many recruiters and hiring managers have been ghosting candidates for years. But if you, as a recruiter stand out from the rest and encourage respect in the workplace, you’ll mostly be treated the same way.

You’re not going to employ every applicant or candidate you interact with, but you are inviting them into your employer space by posting a job or contacting passive candidates. See this as an invitation to view your workplace, even if it’s only briefly. The way someone is treated after being invited in will leave an impression, and you don’t want it to be a bad impression.

Your employer brand is crucial to attracting top talent, not only today but in the future too. If a candidate has a bad experience starting with the application all the way through to onboarding, you could lose them.

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Not only that, they’ll likely tell others, and your employer brand will take a dive! Consider the fact that 72% of job seekers share their negative experiences online and 55% avoid companies after reading negative online reviews.

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Make sure you keep communicating with your candidates.

6 Reasons Why Your Candidates Are Dropping Out

1. Your hiring process lacks structure

Every company needs to have a structured recruitment policy in place that’s implemented across all departments and branches. An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) makes planning and working within a predefined framework really easy. Every new job has to be planned, hiring team members must be appointed, and you must set a timeline for interviews, time to hire and time to fill. All members of the team must contribute, be on the same page regarding minimum requirements and salary, and confirm their availability before interviews commence.

If you work to a predetermined plan, you can tell candidates what to expect from the kickoff. Also, you can eliminate candidates at the application stage who don’t meet minimum criteria or fall outside of the maximum budgeted remuneration package. You can set up automated emails to acknowledge applications, reject unsuitable candidates and keep candidates updated regularly.

2. You take too long to respond

Industry trends show that top talent is off the market in as little as 10 days. You need to respond to applicants on the same day they apply. Your ATS will quickly filter the best applicants. If you leave top candidates waiting, they will be snapped up by your opposition.

You need to engage with quality candidates as soon as possible and grab their attention by getting the interview process started as quickly as possible. Depending on the type of vacancy, it can be a good idea to get the hiring manager to make the initial telephone contact so that the candidate can see they’re not wasting their time.

Also, most candidates who apply are applying to several vacancies simultaneously. If you don’t contact them quickly, your job falls into a faceless pool of no replies. By the time you do get back to them, they’ve forgotten your job and have no reason to respond to you.

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3. Your interview process is disorganized

This ties in with structure and planning. Previously recruiters could accumulate applications for a few days and then select the best. No more! You have to contact the best applicants right away and set up a screening interview as soon as possible. If the candidate makes it through the initial screening, send them an email detailing the interview process and the anticipated timeline.

Be upfront with candidates about how many rounds of interviews will take place so that they can plan ahead. Also, tell them if there will be any type of assessments and at what stage in the process they will happen. Finally, tell all candidates that you will be doing past employment references and verifications if that is part of your recruitment policy. (Telling candidates this can save you time if there are people who are being dishonest in their applications because they will fall out.)

4. Your job description is unrealistic

The job description should be one of the first steps in the planning process. It needs to be comprehensive, and it must be a realistic reflection of the job and the working environment. You must also put a lot of consideration into the job title.

Generic job titles and job descriptions can be misleading, and candidates could be very disappointed if they attend an interview only to find that their expectations aren’t met. This is a genuine problem because 72% of hiring managers say they provide clear descriptions, while only 36% of candidates say the same. Each job description must obviously list critical requirements, but it must also include personality traits, details about the working environment and reflect the company culture and vision.

Never whitewash any aspects of a job in an effort to hold a candidate’s interest.

For example, if there are no prospects for promotion any time soon, tell candidates that. If a candidate accepts a job offer and finds out from colleagues that there are limited prospects once they’ve started, don’t be surprised if they go on lunch and never come back.

5. Your recruitment process is automated… in the wrong way

This seems in contrast with everything else this article says, but there is a necessary caution. Automation is vital to good candidate communication, but don’t automate all communication once the interview process has started. Candidates are people, and so are you; there needs to be a connection of genuine interest, curiosity, and empathy.

In other words, the interview process must have a human touch.

All members of the hiring team must also consider the person behind the candidate as well. Respect for individual needs, cultural diversity and honesty must be the backbone of the interview process. That also means quick and honest discussion between team members and advising candidates as soon as possible whether they’ve made it through to the next round. Always thank the candidate for attending an interview, whether it went well or not (you did invite them after all).   

6. Your employer brand has no identity

Your company culture, values and vision must not only be reflected in your job description. They must come through on your careers site, social media and mainstream media.

Your employer brand must align with your company brand, and it must be tangible.

Many applicants will research a company before they apply, but almost all candidates will do further research once you’ve responded to them. Your online presence must tell candidates what they can expect if they join your company. Social media accounts need to reflect not only your products or services but also echo your company culture and values.

To attract top talent your employer brand must stand out from your competitors, and there’s no better way to convince people than by having your existing staff spread brand love. You can upload virtual tours of your working environment, videos of impromptu staff evangelism (“I love working here because…”), team events, online communities and more.

Also, share the good and the bad, encourage candidate, staff and customer reviews and make company results available. Transparency goes a long way to building a reputable brand that will leave you with a burgeoning talent pool and a stream of hopeful candidates knocking on your door.

Never assume you’ve hit the winning solution

The recruitment landscape will continue to evolve and so must your hiring policies. You can never completely prevent candidates from ghosting you, but if you are market savvy, you definitely can become better at predicting outcomes. Use hiring metrics and analytics to optimize your hiring processes. Be open to change and don’t hesitate to make changes where necessary.

Identify bottlenecks in your system and slackers in your hiring team and sort it out.

Just like recruiters and hiring managers ghosting candidates gave the industry a bad reputation, candidates who keep ghosting companies will end up paying the price in the long run. HR tech allows recruiters and employers to flag applicants, candidates, and ex-staff members who’ve shown little respect. Sooner or later they’ll be in the job market again and either need an employment reference or reapply to your company; if they do – hit the “reject” key!

Change doesn’t have to be hard

Technology has already equipped recruiters and HR specialists with the tools to communicate with applicants and candidates with ease, and also to track and predict hiring trends. There are increasingly few excuses to fail candidates when it comes to communications.

HR practitioners across the board also need to understand that the landscape has changed and employing and retaining staff requires a different approach. If that seems like an insurmountable challenge, you haven’t fully embraced digital technology yet.

Once you realize how much control you’ll have over the recruitment process and how much time an ATS will save you, you’ll be able to take on the HR roles of the future.

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