What’s Behind the Ghosting Epidemic?

Halloween was full of fright and ghost stories, but there’s a different kind of ghosting that has employers and recruiters scared these days. In today’s competitive job market, the tables have turned in the recruitment process.

hiring ghosting

With a record 33 consecutive months of job growth, it’s not just employers that are critically evaluating potential hires—talent is also critically assessing prospective employers.

One emerging trend that’s causing concern is “ghosting,” or when employees abruptly cut off communication. But what’s driving this behavior?

What Is Ghosting?

Ghosting, a term borrowed from the world of online dating, refers to the act of suddenly ceasing all communication without explanation. In the employment context, it’s when candidates or employees stop responding to recruiters or employers, often after receiving a job offer or even after starting the job.

It’s a silent exit, leaving employers in the lurch.

Companies are understandably concerned and frustrated at the ghosting trend, so it’s not surprising organizations have been researching the subject to learn more about the root causes and underlying sentiments. New research from Greenhouse suggests some key drivers of ghosting.

Discriminatory Interview Questions

Companies spend a lot of time and effort promoting diverse and inclusive workplaces. Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of work to be done on that front, as can be seen by the reported instances of discriminatory questions in the recruitment process. A staggering 34% of candidates have faced discriminatory questions during interviews, ranging from age and race to gender and marital status, according to Greenhouse.

Such invasive and often illegal queries can deter potential hires.

Negative Interview Experiences

Beyond interviews that feel discriminatory specifically, a majority of respondents cited negative interview experiences more broadly as a reason they may have ghosted a potential employer. Fifty-seven percent of candidates have had negative interview experiences, and 43% ghosted employers due to poor interviews or the fact that the company didn’t meet expectations.

The perception of “company catfishing” also remains a concern—that’s when companies portray themselves as something they’re not, like committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) values.

Lack of Communication

Communication is key in all aspects of business, but it can be especially important and particularly challenging in the interview process, when candidates and organizations don’t have an established relationship and when recruiters are often swamped with large numbers of applicants. A significant 70% of talent identifies a lack of communication during the hiring process as a major red flag, leading many to abandon the process altogether.

Ghosting is a symptom of deeper issues in the hiring process. To retain top talent, companies must address these concerns, fostering a transparent, respectful, and communicative environment.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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