Candidate ghosting: When no response is a response

October 31st, 2022
HireVue Team

You’ve spent weeks sourcing, screening, and interviewing candidates. Finally, you’re ready to make an offer. You call to relay the exciting news…but no response. You try email and text…crickets.

What happened?

You’ve been ghosted.

Originating from the social world, ghosting is defined as the abrupt cut-off of all communication with no warning or explanation. 

The term quickly made headway in the recruitment industry after a growing number of candidates were skipping out of scheduled job interviews, going silent after promising interactions, and even a surprising 7% were accepting jobs — but were no-shows on their first day.

Although not new, the disappearing candidate has increased — one report showing by 10% from 2019 to 2021. And 57% of employers agree, saying they've been ghosted more than ever before.

While an uptick in absent candidates can feel concerning, we can’t forget who “normalized” this trend. From leaving candidates in the dark after an interview to no response after an application submission, hiring teams have been ghosting candidates for years. 

It’s just no longer one sided.

So is this payback, or are candidates simply too overwhelmed to write back — despite the negative perception it may create? 

Regardless of the answer, we know one thing. Candidates have options. If they are not satisfied, they’ll move on.

While their reasons may vary, here are some of the most common motives for candidate ghosting:

  • 40% were offered another job
  • 22% said compensation was too low
  • 15% said they were not pleased with the benefits
  • 13% said communication during the process was poor

It comes down to this: if you want to fix your problem, you need to fix your process.

Move fast

The average time to hire is roughly 43 days according to one 2022 estimate. In today’s electronic-driven world where speed is expected and job opportunities are vast, 43 days is way too long.

Candidates are quick to check out, especially when hiring is slow. In one survey, 62% of candidates say they lose interest if they’ve heard nothing two weeks after the initial interview. In the same survey, 49% of candidates said they have no problem with a little tit-for-tat and will ghost the employer if communication is lacking.

Bottom line: hire faster.

Although it has a whole slew of benefits, one study found that faster hiring can eliminate 70% of candidate ghosting.

Here’s where an all-in-one talent experience platform can be your biggest asset. Hiring technology will automate your most time-consuming tasks so you can create connections with the people you want. Not only is the experience fast, it’s personal too.

What does it look like?

  • Assessing applicants with a few simple questions and automatically pushing the most qualified ones to the next step
  • Allowing candidates to interview when it’s most convenient for them
  • Automating invites, reminders, and ongoing updates so they’re always in the loop

Technology has allowed us to make tremendous strides with our hiring speed. However, personal, one-on-one communication is still one of the best ways to keep candidates interested. 

And that brings us to our next point.

Communicate regularly

How are you communicating? We don’t mean the occasional follow-up email or initial interview request. That’s the bare minimum. 

We’re talking a steady flow of communication at every step of the hiring process.

Let’s sit in the chair of the candidate for a moment. They’ve applied for your job and made it through the initial interview process. They’re hopeful, checking their phone for any sort of communication that says they’ve made it to the next round. But then weeks go by and nothing.

Did they make it…or should they start searching for different opportunities?

Thirty-eight percent of frustrated candidates say they’d just like some indication of where they stand. And 51% echo this frustration, saying they’re not receiving enough information.

Lack of communication is one of the biggest reasons candidates disappear. When silence is often correlated with rejection, can you blame them? 

To keep your candidates engaged, nurture them through every stage of the hiring process. Now is the time to implement text-based recruiting, especially since 85% of people say they prefer mobile messages over emails and phone calls.

Automate messages so candidates are constantly in the loop. From application responses to last-minute interview updates, keep candidates feeling included at every step.

This could be a simple automated message that acknowledges an application submission:

“Hey, [name]! This is [your name] from [company name’s] hiring team. Thank you for your interest in the open [job title] role. I’ll text you within the next 12 hours with your next steps. I look forward to chatting.”

One last tip: if you don’t want to be ghosted, don’t ghost. This means notifying candidates right away if they didn’t get the job.

Offer flexibility

Forty percent of candidates will abandon the recruitment funnel if flexibility is not a priority, according to a Robert Half survey.

Flexibility signals a genuine commitment to candidate well-being. Understandably, when candidates feel like you care, they are more likely to remain loyal to the process.

So what does flexibility in the hiring process look like? For starters, accommodate candidates’ schedules with on-demand interviews. This opens up evening and weekend options, allowing them to interview when they may not have otherwise been free.

Most job seekers welcome more than one interview because it expresses interest. But when you drag on the interview process — scheduling your fourth, fifth, even sixth interview — candidates move on. 

Mike Conley, a software engineer leader, recently voiced his concern over this exact topic in a viral LinkedIn post. He had multiple rounds of interviews at a company, where the pay and mission aligned with his needs. After Mike was told that interview rounds 4 to 9 were being scheduled, he made the decision to pull his name from the process.

Whether Mike chose to formally pull his name or ghost the company, that’s not the point. It’s that companies are expecting candidates to work around their busy schedules and accommodate their ridiculous standards.

To take on-demand interviews one step further, let your candidates self-schedule their interviews. This removes the time-consuming back and forth, simplifying the process.

Candidates who want to stay

Candidate ghosting is likely not going away, but it can be reduced. And talent teams play a huge part in making that happen.

If you’re not investing in a frictionless hiring process, your candidates won’t be either.

But when you build an experience so seamless — where candidates stay informed and engaged to the very end — the talent you want will stick around.

And it’s technology, like HireVue’s talent experience platform that gets you there. To learn how it can elevate your hiring experience, request a demo today.