What to Do When a Job Candidate Ghosts You

Here are tips to help employers steer clear of this trend and maintain a high level of candidate interest.

Laila Orazova
October 11, 2022

Have there been times when you were eager to recruit the perfect candidate, but halfway through the hiring process they decide not to show up? It can be frustrating when job seekers disappear without a trace. They applied for the role in the first place – wouldn't they want the job?  

Ghosting is a term used by HR experts to describe the rising trend of job candidates failing to show up for scheduled meetings, offers, and even the first day of work. Ghosting by candidates is a significant issue that has grown by 10-20% just in the last year. Furthermore, a relatively recent LinkedIn study found that 40% of candidates think it’s OK to ghost an employer, while 95% of recruiters say they’ve experienced ghosting.

According to a study by CareerBuilder referenced in Fast Company, around two-thirds of candidates ghost potential employers because they found a job with higher wages and/or better benefits. This type of ghosting can even happen after someone has accepted an offer.

Here are some tips to help employers steer clear of these scenarios and maintain a high level of candidate interest.

Detect early warning signs  

One of the early warning signs that employers and recruiters should be aware of, according to Kimberly Friedmutter, author of Subconscious Power: Use Your Inner Mind to Create the Life You've Always Wanted, is a shift in the power dynamic between the employer and employee. The author says that candidates seeking a job will tell a recruiter or headhunter when they will be available for an interview, as opposed to the other way around. While difficulties are not uncommon during the job interview scheduling process, if you have applicants who make it extremely difficult to schedule the initial interview, it may be a sign that they simply do not care all that much about the opportunity.

Another indicator is if a candidate is hesitant about the start date. Candidates tend to be happy when they receive a formal employment offer. But if, after you’ve sent an offer letter or indicated that an offer is coming, the applicant won't commit to a start date, it's a hint that they are not fully committed to the job.  

Reduce your chances of being ghosted

Here are a few things to consider to avoid being ghosted in the future.  

  • Be transparent and honest in job announcements, ads, and all communications.  
  • Ghosting is more likely to occur during lengthy hiring processes. The sooner you let them know where you stand, the better chance you have of keeping them on the hook. This is why we advise our law firm and healthcare organization clients to follow the Rule of 72: make an offer within 72 hours of selecting a preferred candidate, and put a deadline of 72 hours on all offers.
  • Learn more about your applicants to better understand how you can support them in their careers—both within the company and beyond. This is a great way to build a strong relationship from the beginning and to know sooner rather than later how potential employees will adapt to your company culture and fit in with the rest of your team.
  • If the level of candidate ghosting you experience is too high and/or if your in-house recruiting team is too strained as a result of ghosting or other unwanted candidate tactics during the hiring process, consider outsourcing your recruiting function. The main benefit of this is that, if a particular candidate who was once enthused now seems on the fence, the recruiting firm can quickly draw from their pool of similar, highly qualified candidates to replace the previous candidate, keeping you on track to fill the empty chair that’s costing you money in a timely manner.

In conclusion

Candidate ghosting is undoubtedly a worrying trend, but it does not have to negatively impact your company. Making sure your hiring process is efficient, communicating clearly, setting a deadline for potential offers, and being honest will help you develop a strong rapport with candidates and reduce your risk of getting ghosted.

If your company needs help communicating with applicants and finding the right candidate for your open position, reach out to us to learn more about our recruiting process.

Laila is a Marketing and Digital Marketing specialist. She has worked in the industry for years with a variety of reputable businesses.