Dealing with Candidates Who 'Ghost' Interviews and Offers

“Ghosting” is a term that developed in the dating world to refer to a situation in which one person abruptly cuts off all communication with another person, avoiding person-to-person contact when they decide to move on. But, these days, “ghosting” is taking on an entirely new meaning—and new impacts—in another forum, the workplace.


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Ghosting Throughout the Hiring Process

“In the hottest job market in decades, workers are holding all the cards. And they’re starting to play dirty,” writes Paul Davidson in an article for USA Today. They’re ghosting at every stage of the recruitment and hiring process—from interview, to accepting job offers, to even not showing up for their scheduled first day of work after accepting an offer.
It’s a phenomenon that’s fairly new—and increasing in frequency—to the point that it’s on the minds of HR professionals, recruiters, and hiring managers as they work to fill open positions. And it should be.

The Impact on Hiring

Davidson writes that there doesn’t seem to be anyone closely tracking the trend but notes that, anecdotally, many companies are reporting that 20% to 50% of applicants and employees are ghosting in one way or another.
This clearly causes confusion and frustration among recruitment and HR professionals who are having to update their hiring practices to accommodate.
The potential consequences of burning bridges by ghosting interviews or first days on the job don’t seem to generate the same concerns for employees today as they did in less favorable job markets. While they may certainly regret these decisions later as the employee market shifts back to an employer market, for now, it’s a reality that must be addressed.
“In May, with unemployment then near an 18-year low of 3.8 percent, there were more job openings than unemployed people for just the second month in the past two decades, Labor Department figures show,” writes Davidson. “And 2.4 percent of all those employed quit jobs, typically to take another, the largest share in 17 years.”

Dealing with It

How to address the situation? Head on.
Ghosting may be an annoyance, and certainly an unprofessional trend that can add to the time and cost of filling open positions, but it is clearly a strong indicator of a broader trend—employees having the upper hand in employment negotiations and the hiring process in the face of a tight labor market.