Are Applicants Ghosting You? Here’s How to Stop It

Mar 8, 2024
Applicant Tracking, HR and Recruiting Industry Information, Recruiting Best Practices

The term “ghosting” originated in the app-heavy world of online dating. Two people start communicating past the first inbox message. Then, one party disappears without a “sorry, but” message, never to be heard from again. In job seeking, ghosting refers to when either the candidate or the employer drops out of the interview process without explanation. Invitations go unread, interview appointments remain unconfirmed, and emails sit unopened.

Ghosting Is On the Rise

According to a survey conducted by Indeed in 2021, the shift in the employment market during the pandemic meant ghosting on either side became much more common. More than three-quarters of job seekers report being ghosted by an employer. On the other hand, 76 percent of employers in the same survey say they, too, have been ghosted. Statistics tell the story of a frustrating experience on both sides of the hiring process. Candidates ghosted by hiring managers can feel undervalued, discouraged, indignant, or angry. On the company side, it can feel equally discouraging and like a tremendous waste of resources. For small businesses in particular, growth can present huge challenges, and efficiency is crucial.

As a prospective employer, you can’t control every candidate’s behavior. But you can control how you internally manage the hiring process to reduce the risk of being ghosted. At its core, ghosting happens when one side gives up on the potential relationship. Here are some tips to reduce applicant ghosting. 

3 Tips to Stop Applicants Ghosting You

Improve Engagement

This word may be mostly tied to social media in our minds. Engagement describes the ability to create content that keeps your viewer in front of their screen and ideally willing to comment, like, subscribe, click, or purchase. In the interview process, your content is the candidate’s experience at each step of the hiring process. Ask yourself:

  • Do our emails sound friendly and professional?
  • Do we encourage questions and appear open to follow-up communication?
  • Are meeting invitations sent in a timely fashion with clear instructions on how to use the tech?
  • Does the candidate know what to expect in an interview, e.g., who will be in attendance, how long it will last, whether it’s one of a series of interviews?

Sure, you’ll use some form emails to streamline the process. ApplicantStack can help keep you organized at each step of the way. But the content of the communication should sound authentic, open, friendly, and inviting. Candidates want to feel like their presence in the interview process is valued and worth the company’s time.

Maintain Transparency

Job seekers often describe being misled by postings. Job descriptions are couched in language that may not accurately describe the daily duties. You can imagine that while this tactic may have a high rate of inquiry, it has a low rate of follow-through. Honesty really is the best policy in job postings and follow-up communication. Just like you expect the candidate to tell the truth on their resume, transparency on the employer side establishes trust from the first interaction. Without trust, you are much more likely to be ghosted. You have to earn a candidate’s respect.

Along with accurate job descriptions, candidates want transparency in salary and benefits. Reporting by CNBC in November 2023 discovered that “beyond any material impact on wage levels, rising pay transparency has had the largest effect on how employees and employers behave during the job-seeking and hiring processes. Employers are using pay transparency to attract candidates who are actually willing to receive the pay that is listed—and discourage others from applying.” When you start with your cards on the table, the candidates you attract are less likely to ghost you later when the salary is revealed and it’s unattractive to them.

Offer Clarity

On each side of the hiring table, people are multi-tasking. Hiring managers have multiple candidates at varying stages of the interview process. Job seekers live in a state of inquiring with and waiting on multiple companies, often running on different time tables. It’s a process that can make your head spin without an excellent system of organization. For the hiring side, ApplicantStack gives you all the tools you need to keep track of each candidate at every stage in the process. As you adjust the tool to fit your company’s needs, consider re-evaluating the clarity of each message you send. 

  • Does the candidate understand the steps of the submission, interview, and hiring process?
  • Do they know what stage they are in?
  • Do they know how to withdraw their name from consideration?
  • Do they know where to direct questions?
  • Do you give an estimated response time or update if that can’t be met?

Attentive hiring managers who give as much information as possible are the least likely to be ghosted. Online job boards are full of people asking “how do I tell a company I’m not interested anymore?” The answers vary widely, but that general advice may not apply to your company. Communicating your company’s preference can relieve a candidate’s anxiety on how to handle this potentially awkward situation that very commonly leads to ghosting.

Use Different Communication Methods

You may have trouble getting ahold of candidates via email, only to feel like you’ve been ghosted. But some people simply forget to manage their inboxes efficiently, leading to missed messages. ApplicantStack makes it easy to communicate with job seekers where they areon their phones. Here’s an interesting statistic: 98 percent of texts are read within two minutes of receipt. By contrast, roughly 20 percent of emails get opened and read within that timeframe. When you consider the high risk of an email getting filtered and not seen at all, it’s clear that texting is the winner for communication.

You can never control another person’s behavior, but you can adjust your hiring practices to mitigate applicant ghosting. Using organizational tools backed by transparency and excellent communication can lead to positive hiring relationships. Learn more about the features built into ApplicantStack when you start your free (no strings attached) trial.

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