Most of us love a good ghost story. A little scare, the occasional “boo,” things that go bump in the night. But even during the season of jack o’ lanterns and trick-or-treating, nobody likes a ghosting story—especially when it comes to job candidates. The person is there one minute, then all of a sudden they stop communicating, fail to show up for interviews, vanish. Not even a séance can bring them back.
The fact that this happens is disappointing, concerning, but unfortunately not surprising. According to Monster, almost 75% of all recruiters have been ghosted by a job candidate at one point or another. The why of it all, however, while remaining a mystery on some levels, offers insights into how and where top recruiters and enlightened employers can keep those ghosts at bay—no proton pack needed!
So we’ve gathered a group of Eclaro talent acquisition professionals including Homer Ballega, Red Villanea, John Bristol, Heckle Tulab, Gail Ramos, Hannah Salinas, John Edu and Katherine Torres to not only help shed light on the reasons certain job seekers may ghost recruiters—as well as prospective employers—but also to share some best practices to prevent ghosting and offer a bit of advice to candidates and employers alike on making the experience less frightful and more fruitful all around.
“I think what is important to avoid ghosting is transparency—both for the recruiter and the candidate,” Ballega says.
“For recruiters, you should be transparent with all the info you have—why the job is open, what is the expectation, etc. You can build trust,” Ballega adds. “If the candidate asks you a question and you’re not sure of the answer, just be honest and tell the candidate that you will get back to them and will gather more info.”
The same, Ballega notes, goes for candidates. “It would be very helpful for your recruiters, too, if you will be honest regarding your current situation, if the job is really a match, if you’re really okay with the salary, etc. If the role is not in line with what you are looking for, you may just say ‘No’ and your recruiter will find a more suitable job for you.”
The Fit Factor
“Candidates might ghost interviews because they found a more tempting job offer elsewhere that was more related to their skill set,” Villanea offers. “It could be because of the salary offer, benefits or work setup.”
Process Pain Points
Candidates want to feel valued, and they want to be shown that their time is valued as much as their skills. Keeping the process flowing smoothly, updating them in a timely fashion on changes to schedules or documents that may be requested, are all essential to keeping the ghosts at bay. “Sometimes, if the interview process feels chaotic,” Villanea says, “they might lose interest.”
Reputation and Communication Matter
Candidates will do their own research into companies they may be considering as a prospective employer, and what they find can scare up fright-and-flight reactions. “If they've heard negative things about the company or feel it’s not the right cultural fit, they might disappear,” Villanea says.
In addition to a company’s keeping an eye on its online reputation, it’s important for recruiters and employers to be able to address these types of concerns throughout the process. “It’s a reminder that good communication and a positive experience can go a long way toward keeping candidates engaged.”
Build a Strong Rapport
There’s a difference between getting to know a candidate and wanting to know all regarding a candidate. Authentic interest in helping bring candidates and employers together in the right match is noticeable, and the sincerity of early communications can begin building a strong relationship, as Bristol notes. “Just simply ask them, ‘What are the things that you are looking for in your next opportunity?’ Do they want more salary? Do they want a greener pasture?”
Formal Follow Through
Top recruiters will stay in touch with their candidates, touching base throughout the process. “If a recruiter neglects to check a candidate’s current application status or gauge their genuine interest in the position and fails to provide job-related details,” our team warns, then ghosting is only to be expected.
“Recruiting someone is not a walk on a park,” says Bristol. “It is the candidate’s right to hesitate, to haggle or to even ghost, because making a decision that can have an impact for the rest of your life is usually not something that can be decided over a single phone call. It is a gradual process.”
Ghosting may be only a temporary situation as a candidate is pondering the many factors that go into taking each step in the job-seeking journey, so a patient, consistent, respectful approach may return that ghost back to the land of the living.
Privacy Is Powerful
The concern over revealing personal information such as social security numbers (even just the last four digits) has made people increasingly protective of their data, even during a job search, Eclaro’s experts have noted. This can be a challenge to overcome, “since it’s important to respect a candidate’s privacy, especially around keeping their private information safe,” but certain information is nonetheless necessary. This is just one case, the Eclaro team points out, where building a strong, transparent, trust-based relationship with job seekers can play an essential role in helping the process go smoothly from initial contact to hiring.
Simple Loss of Interest
“There are instances where, despite providing all requisite information and diligent follow-up efforts, candidates may choose not to respond,” Tulab says. “They might have become less interested in the job, got a different job offer, or encountered personal issues that stopped them from staying in touch.”
Of course, there’s always a séance…but a great talent acquisition team is better.