How To Reduce Candidate Ghosting

by | Jun 29, 2022

You can reduce candidate ghosting. (You won’t stop it though!)

Part 2 –  read Part 1 here.

Someone becomes a candidate when they express real interest in the role by engaging in a detailed two-way conversation and when they express proper interest in the roles at your company/client. Candidate ghosting is when someone who has chosen to spend their valuable time talking to you or your client/company about a role disappears. 👻

And before this descends into a finger pointing session, see But, but… Stop! Recruiters Started It. Research from Tribepad found that recruiters leave 86% of applicants down or depressed when they ghost, they don’t leave us feeling that way, so let’s start by stopping our behaviour.

But I digress.

Why candidate and new employee ghosting happens

A better intake, leads to better communication and hiring manager commitment, which used wisely can reduce ghosting but there are lots of reasons that candidate’s ghost.

  • They’re too scared to tell you the truth – saying no is hard for some people!
  • It avoids an uncomfortable conversation or they don’t want to be pressured.
  • They received a counteroffer and are going back on all they said.
  • You didn’t build trust so they don’t feel like they owe you an explanation.
  • They’re embarrassed because you’ve worked hard and they don’t want to proceed.
  • They learned something confidential about the company that has put them off.
  • You didn’t show empathy and compassion; they feel like a number.
  • In 2022, it’s easy to keep interviewing, even with an offer in hand.
  • They are not the slightest bit bothered that you now think worse of them.
  • They don’t fear the repercussions like they may have pre-Internet.
  • Employers ghosting applicants hasn’t helped!

…and many more I have missed.

The thing is these brilliant communication devices, that we have within reach at all times, make ignoring someone easy. Think how many friends read your messages and don’t reply.

You’d think mobile devices made communicating easier but they haven’t. It’s easy to ignore your call, email, SMS, WhatsApp, Twitter DM, InMaul, Messenger message, etc. How I miss telephones of yesteryear, which people would answer just to stop the noise! 😆

But again, I digress.

2 ideas that can reduce candidate ghosting

Stop working on roles without a detailed intake strategy session.

Regular readers know this is a recurring message but it wasn’t until I wrote The Robot-Proof Recruiter (Edition 2 is available to pre-order), that I realised how important the intake is. Its presence or lack thereof decides the fate of current & future recruitment, and impacts employer brand and the candidate experience.

A proper intake will:

  • Help you build trust from the first conversation with a prospect so you will more easily convert them into a candidate or applicant.
  • Give you information beyond the duties that can keep a candidate interested in the role.
  • Helps you match what the candidate says they’re looking for with the job’s realities.
  • Create the understanding with the hiring manager that they too must sell the job & the company, and stop messing about.
  • Save candidates interviewing for the role only to discover it’s not right so they ghost.

…and more.

Build trust from the very first ‘screening’ conversation.

If you want people to feel that you are on their side and that you will be ok if they withdraw, you have to tell them right from the start.

You could say something like,

“I bet you could tell me some horror stories about recruiters! It’s true, our reputation can be poor. But I know that I play with people’s lives. The experience you have with me and the recruitment process matters. I know being ghosted by a recruiter can leave people feeling down or depressed, so I give you my word that I won’t do that*. Whether you succeed here or not, I will let you know. Even if that means stalking the hiring manager!

When I last changed jobs it was stressful, so many hurdles, so many factors at play. You have my empathy. I can only help you if we have trust so I hope I earn it. Do know that if you decide not to proceed, for any reason, I won’t take it personally and you can tell me. Now, tell me some of your recruiter horror stories!”

But if you’re not ok about the possibility of someone withdrawing, recruitment isn’t the job for you.

Because you are in the business of matching humans, humans with thoughts, feelings and emotions. And they are under no obligation to do as they are told (frustratingly! 😆)

* P.S. Recruiters, do not say that you will follow through, if you don’t plan to!


Originally posted on LinkedIn in the Recruitment Isn’t Broken newsletter. For more, be sure to subscribe below, grab Edition 2 of The Robot-Proof Recruiter, check out The Collective, and listen to The Hiring-Partner Perspective.

Edition 2 is out! 🥳

Fully updated for 2022, The Robot-Proof Recruiter

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