‘Ghosting’ Is Becoming More Prevalent in the Hiring Process

Ghosting is becoming a common theme for 2018—as we’ve recently highlighted in a three-part series—and new research released by Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews firm, shows that more than 40% of candidates say it’s reasonable to ghost a company during the hiring process. With more candidates ghosting companies, it leaves you wondering: What makes a candidate ‘ghost’ a company in the first place?


Source: Jurkos / iStock / Getty

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, ghosting is used when an applicant goes through various stages of the hiring process and then one day goes radio silent, never to be heard from again. Ghosting can happen at literally any stage, right down to the candidate’s first day on the job—even though the candidate excepted the job offer, he or she simply doesn’t show up for his or her first day on the job.
Clutch surveyed 507 full-time employees to learn about their experiences with workplace ghosting and what would cause them to ghost a company in the first place. Clutch found that workplace ghosting occurs because jobseekers accept another job offer (30%) or decide a role is not a good match (19%). Clutch also discovered that jobseekers ghost in response to being ghosted themselves: Nearly one-quarter (23%) of respondents say they ghost when a company stops communicating with them.

Ghosting Starts with the Application Phase

As you know, communication plays a huge role in the recruiting process and when companies stop communicating, it causes candidates to lose interest, which in turn results in candidate ghosting. However, before your company even has a chance to communicate with the actual candidate, it needs to get the job description accurately posted. An accurate job posting will help reduce candidate ghosting by presenting jobseekers with precise information about the role.
According to Marissa Connell, a current jobseeker, ghosting is a normalized part of the recruitment process. “You can usually figure out if a job posting is honest and what you’re looking for,” says Connell, who ghosts companies that post inaccurate job descriptions or do not answer her questions about a role.
The Clutch survey also found that more than 70% of jobseekers have abandoned a job application and more than half (55%) say they abandon one to five job applications during a job search. According to Clutch, “Ghosting signals an applicant’s decision to take their job search in a different direction, albeit without communicating that to a company.”

Companies that Ghost are Viewed Unfavorably

Applicants rank ghosting more favorably when they initiate it, compared to when companies ghost them. According to the Clutch survey, more than one-third of jobseekers (35%) say it’s very unreasonable for a company to ghost an applicant. Only 21% believe it’s very unreasonable for an applicant to ghost a company.
Companies that ghost candidates may inadvertently signal their approval of ghosting. More than one-third of jobseekers (36%) received no response at all from the last company that rejected them. When candidates do receive a response, only one-third of rejections (30%) end with a generic rejection e-mail, providing candidates with much-needed closure.
Fewer companies personalize rejection. Only one in five candidates (21%) are rejected by phone and only 13% receive a personalized rejection e-mail.

Ghosting Is Considered More Acceptable in Early Interview Stages

Among jobseekers who approve of ghosting, nearly half (48%) say it’s reasonable to ghost a company during the early stages of the interview process.
As companies evaluate and compare candidates during the middle and final stages of the interview process, jobseekers’ position shifts, and they consider it more reasonable for the company to initiate ghosting.
Once a job offer has been made, however, jobseekers believe it’s equally reasonable for companies or applicants to ghost. Nearly one in 10 jobseekers say it’s acceptable for a candidate to ghost after accepting a job offer (9%) or for a company to ghost after extending an offer (8%).

Protecting Your Company from Being Ghosted

According to Clutch, persistent ghosting should trigger reflection and process improvements—not just dismay. “[P]ersistent ghosting can be a warning sign that companies are losing talent to competitors,” says David Jackson, CEO of FullStack Labs, a software development firm. “If we’re losing good candidates because of a problem with our process, that could be having a bigger impact than we’d like.”
At ThinkLions, a Detroit-based mobile app development company, CEO Mike Sims estimates that his old recruiting process resulted in nearly half of candidates ghosting. Sims hypothesized that candidates were reluctant to move to Detroit and suspected that candidates who ghosted were accepting offers from companies in better-known tech cities such as San Francisco.
To test his theory, Sims offered candidates the option of working remotely instead of relocating to Detroit. Before long, candidates began accepting his job offers. “I was a bit nervous going in, but we weren’t having the success that we wanted with the onsite [openings],” says Sims. “It’s definitely working out for us.”
By identifying and addressing a possible cause for ghosting, Sims limited ThinkLions impact and attracted new talent. If you’re unsure of where to begin reviewing your recruiting process, Clutch says to ask yourself these five questions:

  1. Are your competitors offering more compelling opportunities?
  2. Does your recruiting process leave candidates in the dark, causing them to seek opportunities elsewhere?
  3. Are you recruiting candidates who are most likely to view your company and roles as a match?
  4. Do your job listings accurately portray the roles you’re hiring for?
  5. Is your online application portal optimized for the best possible user experience?

According to Clutch, you can use these questions to spark a review of your current recruiting process and identify areas for improvement. Hopefully, this will reduce the amount of ghosting your company faces.
For more information on this survey, read the full report here.