Ghosting Candidates

Have you ever heard of the concept of ghosting? If you’re not on top of the latest pop culture lingo,ghosting is the concept of the “slow fade” in dating. You start in typical dating fashion, enamored with the person and texting, calling or trying to make plans to see each other every day. Then, all of a sudden, the other person just stops responding – or at least stops responding as frequently. They’re not responding to the “do you want to have dinner” tonight questions. Hell, they’re not responding to anything. Poof. Your Tinder date? Now a ghost – one you’ll be left to stalk on Instagram or Facebook until you get bored with their life and move along.

Now, this phenomenon is not particular to any one gender and the intention (in most cases) is likely the hope that someone will just “get the hint” that the other person isn’t interested. I say it’s not particular to any one gender because in reality, it’s a reflection on how badly the person needs a lesson in communicating with other people – how badly they simply want to avoid an awkward encounter or hurting someone’s feelings. It’s ok that you’re just not that into someone else but not telling that person is squarely in the “not ok” camp. Communication is critical, even with someone you’re not going to spend forever torturing, I mean loving.

If you’ve read my posts before, I bet you’re catching the hint about where I’m going with this – candidate experience and communication, which also happens to be the theme of most of my speaking gigs. Really, I’m talking about the “rules” of digitally communicating with your audience from the marketer’s perspective – rules every HR and recruiting pro should apply to their own communication methods.

Now, if it’s squarely not ok to just never speak to someone you’ve been talking to frequently out of the blue, why is it ok for HR or recruiting to drop the ball? Why can we treat people like this? We ghost candidates. Don’t lie, you’ve done it. We ghost them from beginning to end, if you really break down the candidate experience.

Then, candidates ghost us all the time. In fact, 50% of candidates ghost us before they even start applying. Probably because we’ve been ghosting them – even though mirroring poor behavior is an excuse. A bad one, at that.

It seems like with more methods of communication, we’re even less likely to actually communicate with people.

  • Nicholas Meyler

    I've seen this happen with a candidate recently, and the hiring CEO was unable to understand what was happening... i.e. that the candidate was backing out of the offer she had already accepted and told me she was very happy with.  As soon as I get a sense of "ghosting", I am as pro-active as possible in pointing it out, and removing that candidate from the equation entirely.  Time to get new candidates!

    I will say it is extremely unprofessional to me, of candidates to behave like this, but we're all just people, living by the social mores of Society, and trends like "ghosting" bleed over into professional life, as well.

  • Quintin Ford

    I mentioned a bit about this in my article. "How You're Ruining You Reputation As A Recruiter"

    The act of massive outreach always leads to "ghosting" It's almost impossible to avoid unless you're a phone and email maniac. Which, if you are, that's awesome.