Why You’ve Been Ghosted by a Great Job Candidate

Though it’s impolite, candidates do disappear and it’s not for reasons you might think.

Things were going great. The candidate was engaged and excited (or so it seemed) about the job. Every conversation and interview went well according to the feedback you’ve received or developed on your own. This one felt like a definite contender–perhaps even “the one. Your search for a great new employee for the team or your client looked like it would soon come to a close.

Then, nothing.

Your attempts at communication garner no response. They said they were interested, right? What happened? If this scenario sounds familiar, or you’ve experienced it first-hand, you’ve been ghosted.


Ghosting and Hiring

Ghosting is the term given for the shut down or ceasing of communication with someone without notice or reason and is most commonly associated with actions taken in our personal relationships. It is seen as the softer way to go about rejecting someone in the 21st century by people who often lack the manners we refer to as ‘common courtesy’ in the age of self-importance and “busy-ness”.

No matter what it’s called when it happens, it can be discouraging for anyone. But for those in a hiring capacity with the ability to influence, if not ultimately decide, on someone’s employment prospects who are more often than not the ones doing the rejecting, ghosting can be downright baffling.

In the book, Truth and Lies: What People Are Really Thinking, by Mark Bowden and Tracey Thomson the reasoning behind ghosting simply put: if someone is into you, they’ll find ways to show up to participate in the exchange, whatever that is. Though Bowden & Thomson’s book is geared towards more personal and intimate relationships, their material is quite applicable to professional relationships that border on becoming or being more personal. The authors encourage readers to look at what else can be considered for the action, which inspired us to dig further into candidate rejection, the reasoning for it, and offer some thoughts for preventing it from happening in the first place.

Your Application & Hiring Processes Need Help

When was the last time you reviewed what it was like to apply for a job as a candidate at your company, were contacted from an internal recruiter regarding an opening, or was solicited by a retained/3rd party recruiter on behalf of your company? Not sure? Today, the application and hiring experience is EVERYTHING!

We’ve written about the importance of the candidate’s hiring experience before (which you can check out here) and encourage you to solicit feedback from applicants and recent hires regarding the experience they had directly with your talent acquisition team, or organizations that fulfill this service on your behalf. This feedback may identify areas that need to be addressed. A candidate’s experience is just as important as your customer or employee’s experience with your company brand. Here are some other neteffects articles on the importance of your company’s brand experience:

Employee Engagement & Contract Talent Relations

◊ When Attracting Talent, Company Culture is Critical 

You’re Not Their First Choice

Candidates know anything can happen during a job search and as such, plan accordingly. This means not putting all their eggs in one employer’s basket, hoping for the best-case-scenario outcome (a dream offer). All talent have an idea or know what they’re looking for in an employer and are willing to hold out to get it if they’re able.

Some talent may also have no intention of leaving their current place of employment unless they have no other option and use an offer elsewhere as leverage to get what they want with a current employer. In such circumstances, set clear expectations on decision-making timelines. You may want to consider a more bold approach–say, implementing a salary to job tier system and making that information available outright.

They’re Pre-Occupied with Other Commitments

Too busy for a great new job opportunity?! Too busy if they’re the ones who expressed interest first?! Everyone has commitments and obligations to others we know nothing about. It’s best not to assume here and give the benefit of the doubt to the candidate. Being currently employed full-time, working for yourself, family, etc. all require time–a precious commodity these days for anyone.

Just because someone isn’t employed in a traditional full-time role doesn’t mean they are just waiting around to respond to your communication. Finding a full-time job is a full-time job. Outlining your timeline and asking if it works within theirs from the start of the process will provide transparency and expectations for all parties involved.

They Saw Warning Signs

Everyone has standards when it comes to employment for what is a deal-maker and deal-breaker. Savvy candidates do their homework on companies they are interested in or who express interest in them. Review sites like Glassdoor, Comparably, and even Google can share a wealth of information about a business and its employees.

Candidates may also contact current and former employees, or friends-of-friends who might have more information on the company through social media to get the “inside scoop”. And, if they’ve interviewed in-person, the potential hire had an opportunity to ask questions and draw conclusions on their own. They are judging the whole opportunity as much as you are judging them as a potential hire.

Keeping lines of communication open and encouraging candidates to ask any questions about the job itself, company, or the team they’d be working with and their thoughts encourages an open two-way dialogue and opportunity to address concerns as they come up.


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