Recruiter and Hiring Manager Ghosting in the Hiring Process

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By Debra Pagtolingan

Vice President, National Prospecting Team

The ghosting of candidates by hiring managers and recruiters has become all too familiar in today’s virtual world of talent acquisition and recruiting. Gone are the days of formal rejection letters, emails, and phone calls. Ghosting occurs when a recruiter, or hiring manager, stops responding to email messages, fails to appear for an interview, or disappears during any stage of the hiring process. The practice of ignoring a candidate seeking employment is not only discourteous to the applicant but can be detrimental to your organization.

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Why ghosting candidates occurs  

Recruiter ghosting and hiring manager ghosting of candidates occurs for multiple reasons:

Lack of human connection: As a result of the pandemic, talent acquisition and recruiting have shifted to a virtual environment. The days of a candidate shaking a recruiter’s hand after dropping off a resume are gone. Recruitment technology and software applications have dramatically increased efficiencies but in return, candidates have paid a price.

Discomforting with saying no: It’s human nature to want to say “yes” because it’s so much easier than the alternative. It’s common to ghost a candidate to avoid the discomfort of saying “no.”

Feelings of being overwhelmed: When a hiring manager or recruiter has too much on their plate and not enough time in the day, it’s easy to forget to respond to a candidate.

Why ghosting candidates is so harmful

Ghosting is harmful to everyone involved in the hiring process. Here’s why:

When days, weeks, or even months go by and an applicant has not received any response, it negatively affects his or her hiring process experience and the employer or recruiter’s reputation. The Human Capital Institute reports the following statistics when a job seeker is treated poorly:

  • 60% report a negative candidate experience with the employers they engage;
  • 72% report sharing their negative candidate experiences online on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed;
  • And 55% report avoiding certain companies after reading negative online reviews.

How to prevent ghosting a candidate

To prevent ghosting, work to create hiring process efficiencies by setting realistic expectations and communicating promptly.

Set realistic expectations:  Streamline processes by scheduling an automated email to be sent to the applicant immediately after his or her application is received. In the email, outline the timeline and expectations for the hiring process. Specify a date, after which, the candidate should follow up to check the status. This will reduce the number of candidates emailing or calling too early in the process.

Communicate promptly: Contact unsuccessful candidates as early in the hiring process as possible. This can be accomplished with an email, LinkedIn message, or phone call. Reach out as soon as it’s determined that the applicant is not a good fit for the position. As time passes, the candidate becomes more frustrated and discouraged with the hiring process and your organization.

How to communicate rejection

To politely reject a candidate, be professional, respectful, and kind, and focus on the following:

Be positive: Don’t use the word rejected. Instead, communicate that the selection team has decided to not further pursue the job seeker’s candidacy.

Avoid words that could be misconstrued: To avoid discrimination, abstain from saying that you are searching for more qualified applicants. Think carefully about the ramifications of any criticism or advice that you provide.

Communicate appropriately: A candidate can be rejected by email or LinkedIn up until the time a formal interview is conducted. Once an interview has occurred, rejection should be communicated with a phone call to the candidate.

Summary

It is never acceptable for a hiring manager or recruiter to ignore a job applicant during any stage of the hiring process. It’s harmful to the organization’s brand and ungracious to the candidate. Job seekers spend hours filling out online applications, writing cover letters, and tailoring their resumes to fit specific job openings.  Whether your response is yes or no, always communicate in some way to avoid ghosting the candidate at all costs.

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