Ghosting: Why Isn't My Candidate Responding Anymore?

Published on: 1 July 2024

Yes! You managed to reach a perfect candidate; they responded to your LinkedIn message, the phone screening went well, there was a match, and you scheduled an appointment for a first interview.

You review the CV and book a meeting room. But on the very day of the interview, the candidate doesn't show up. You give them fifteen minutes, thinking they might be stuck in traffic or their train is delayed. Half an hour after the scheduled time, there's still no one to be seen. You call, but all you get is voicemail. A little later, you try again, but without success.

Something must have come up: a flat tire, a missed train, a car problem. Hopefully, everything is still alright, and nothing serious has happened. Otherwise, they would surely have informed you. At the end of the day, you send another email and decide to call the next day. But there's still radio silence on the other end. It's as if the candidate never existed, as if suddenly they're a ghost. In professional terms, this is called "ghosting," and you're not the only one experiencing it.

You're not alone: 83% of employers experience ghosting

The term "ghosting" originated in the realm of dating but is becoming increasingly common in the HR world. It involves candidates disappearing midway through the application process, as well as employees not showing up on their first day of work or leaving after the first week. In the United States, 83% of employers have been "ghosted," and 18% of job seekers admit to having "ghosted" employers.

Indeed conducted a survey and asked 250 job seekers why they engaged in "ghosting."

Reason 1: Eye for an eye

"Employers have 'ghosted' me so many times," says one candidate. "If they do it, why shouldn't I?" Research shows that this is one of the most significant reasons for "ghosting." "It's happened to me so many times," complains another. "It's like I don't exist anymore after the job interview."

As an employer or recruiter, it's best to keep your candidates as informed as possible throughout the process. Even if the candidate isn't a fit, you can let them know that they haven't been selected. Because remember, a negative candidate experience isn't good publicity.

Reason 2: The Process Is Too Long

A phone screening, a first interview, a personality test, another interview—the application process can sometimes be unnecessarily lengthy. "If you're looking for a job," one candidate said, "of course, you don't just sit around waiting for employers to finally make a decision." Another explained their "ghosting" like this: "By the time they finally got back to me, I had already been working elsewhere for a long time."

Reason 3: No Alignment

A candidate explains, "If I don't get in touch after a job interview, it's usually because I've discovered new things, like a bad atmosphere or a company culture that doesn't suit me." They searched for reviews or contacted other employees and discovered that there was no alignment between them and their future employer.

Reason 4: Inadequate Offer

If candidates suddenly realize that the position is well below their level, or if the offer is very disappointing, they'll suddenly drop out. "I worked hard to earn my degrees and put in years of work to reach this level. When I'm invited to an interview, I assume it matches my qualifications," explains an experienced professional. "If it doesn't, it's disappointing. So, I don't want to invest more time in it."

Reason 5: Sometimes It Just Happens

Candidates often have multiple applications in progress. When something suddenly comes up, they simply forget to notify you: "It was an accident. I applied and was invited to an interview. Then my daughter got sick, and I forgot to cancel the appointment." Of course, candidates have other things to do than apply; they still have their current job, a family, and a rich social life.

Reason 6: Recruiters Aren't Flexible

It's often assumed that candidates are available at any time, while recruiters have a more restricted schedule. A survey candidate received an invitation 24 hours in advance; "It was also an hour and a half away. I didn't really manage to solve this issue in such a short time." When she asked if it could be done a little later, it wasn't possible. "So, I didn't show up. And I don't regret it at all."

Reason 7: Fear of Consequences

One final reason why candidates are seen as ghosts is the fear that their current employer will know about their application. Suddenly, they're afraid to apply during work hours, or they no longer dare to risk their current career for something new.

As a recruiter, have you experienced "ghosting"? Prevention is better than cure! So, work on your candidate experience: keep your candidates informed throughout the application process and communicate openly.

Do you think it's too much work, or do you prefer to leave the follow-up to other professionals? We can help you find suitable candidates who won't disappear. Feel free to contact our team for assistance!