Candidate Experience

Candidate Ghosting: 4 Ways to Avoid It

Jan 31, 2022 - Cat DiStasio

Definition of Candidate Ghosting

Candidate ghosting (noun): the practice of a job seeker dropping out of a recruiting process without explanation and withdrawing from all communication.

Examples: interested candidate interacts with recruiter on LinkedIn but never applies, candidate vanishes after a phone screening, candidate is unresponsive following an interview, etc.

Candidate ghosting can be one of the most frustrating parts of recruiting—largely because it feels like it’s beyond our control. Ghosting has become more common in recent years, too. Indeed research found that 28% of candidates ghosted an employer during 2020, up from 18% in 2019. Candidates might ghost a recruiting process because they already have a better offer, because they didn’t get enough questions answered, because the hiring process lacked engagement and communications opportunities,because the process is taking too long - or a combination of all of these frustrating factors.

The reality is, in a candidates’ job market where they have lots of options, snags in the candidate experience are likely to accelerate issues with ghosting.

Employers can’t completely end candidate ghosting, but you can influence candidates to stay engaged throughout your recruiting process in order to minimize it.

Here’s a look at some key strategies you can use to avoid candidate ghosting.

Make your Recruiting Process Short and Sweet - by Being Strategic and Prioritizing Engagement

Improving the candidate experience from the very start may be the best way to reduce the chance of ghosting later on. Candidates may be turned off by lengthy applications with loads of requirements (i.e. don’t make candidates type in the details of every job AND upload a resume) or an extremely long interview process. Prior to COVID and the Great Resignation, most (81%) of job seekers expected to wait only five days between an interview and a job offer. Right now, they may expect recruiters to move even faster.

Candidates may also drop out of your recruiting process if they don’t know what to expect. Nobody wants to interview for a job and then wonder when they will hear whether they are invited to move forward or not. When they apply, after a phone screen, or after they attend a virtual career fair, follow up with feedback, next steps, and expected time frames. And then follow through with what you’ve promised.

Another winning strategy for keeping candidates informed and engaged is to host informational virtual events, when candidates can ask questions about the recruiting process, engage with recruiters right away, and learn what happens after an interview. These events enable you to speak with and screen a large volume of candidates at once, so you can move people through the process more quickly. That’s a win-win for you and for candidates.

Offer More Options for Engagement Outside of the Application to Keep Candidates Interested

We just mentioned how informational virtual events help keep candidates informed and engaged. Informational and educational virtual events are just one part of a smart plan for encouraging continued engagement.

Before and after the application, and in between screenings and interviews, give candidates other things to do. Use a recruiting chatbot on your careers site where they can get quick answers about your company history and culture, even before they apply (and to compel them to complete that application). Invite them to other virtual events you’re hosting that match their career goals or interests. Host “office hours” events where job seekers can drop in and ask questions of a recruiter or hiring manager.

All of these strategies empower candidates to choose their own recruiting adventure (to some degree), while demonstrating that you’ve put thought and effort into what they need and want—a desirable seed to plant in the mind of a potential employee.

Leverage Virtual Hiring Events to Build Authentic Connections

Tell more stories about your company culture. That’s it. That’s the advice. (Just kidding. Of course it’s not quite that simple.)

Job seekers need to be able to envision what working at your organization will look and feel like, and how it will impact (and hopefully benefit) the other parts of their lives. Share content that illustrates your culture—your mission and values, employee testimonials, and ‘day in the life’ stories. Use video liberally to make these stories even more engaging.

Using virtual hiring events to highlight culture can really help bring these stories to life. Host Q&A sessions with executives, and events with your employee resource groups (ERGs). You might even consider offering candidates the opportunity to meet with ERG members during the recruiting process for informal, off-the-record conversations that can help them get the insights they need to see your organization as a desirable place to work.

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Highlight What Makes your Organization Special

As we mentioned earlier, candidates may ghost a recruiting process if they think they are close to a better offer somewhere else—and especially if they already have one. Many employers may consider being even more transparent about compensation and benefits in an effort to attract candidates, but if you’re willing to counter another offer they receive, it’s worth communicating that proactively once you know you want to make them an offer. Some job seekers may not realize they can negotiate like this and it’s up to you to let them know, if you don’t want to lose them.

Throughout the recruiting process, you need to look for ways to differentiate your organization from other employers targeting the same candidates. Put a spotlight on the reasons your organization is a great place to work. Include content on your careers site and in virtual events about hybrid work plans, compensation, benefits, skills development, career advancement opportunities, and anything else that sets you apart from competing employers. Promote these messages via social media and email campaigns to ensure that candidates know where to find answers about all these important topics.

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts

Candidate ghosting may be one of the most annoying trends—and toughest challenges—of today’s talent market. But don't get spooked! It’s part of our reality so, like many other unpleasant things in life, we need smart strategies to help us navigate forward. Implementing the techniques above will help you improve the candidate experience and also benefit candidate engagement, and when engagement goes up, ghosting will inevitably *disappear*. 


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