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a different perspective on human capital

Ghosting: The Phenomenon Haunting Candidates AND Employers

Ghosting: the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication. Ghosting occurs both in personal life and in business, and the recruiting world is no different. Ghosting can happen on both ends of recruiting, by recruiters and by candidates. It can be a hard concept to grasp – there’s no explanation or closure in the process, and as either a candidate or hiring manager, you’ll probably feel like you’re owed more. So, what should you do when ghosted in the recruiting space?

What to do as a candidate

Getting ghosted as a candidate can be frustrating. You’ve dedicated time, energy, and brainpower to the interview process, only to be left without answers. However, when being ghosted as a candidate, it is important to manage your communication carefully. It is great to follow up, but do not overwhelm the recruiter with multiple messages. Typically, limiting “post-ghosting” communication to about 3 messages/calls is best.  If you haven’t heard back after that, there’s not much more you can do.

Ghosting may feel personal, even though it usually isn’t. It may sting, but try to view the experience as a learning opportunity as you would with any other interview. What went well in the interview process? Where could you have improved? Take what you learned in this experience and apply it to your future interviews and job searches. Simply going through the steps of a job search can help you learn a lot about your personality and skillset, and can help you improve your strategy for the future.

Lastly, as hard as it can be, do not let ghosting discourage you from applying for other job opportunities. One opportunity ended in ghosting, but the next might end with a job offer. In the end, an employer who does not communicate is probably not someone you want to work for anyway.

What to do as a recruiter or hiring manager

To prevent candidates from ghosting as a recruiter or hiring manager, there are a few things you can do throughout the interview process. During the first interview, make sure you cover the candidate’s goals, expectations, and timeline. This includes asking questions such as “What do you want from a new job?” and “Are you exploring other opportunities?” These questions can establish a baseline for what to expect on both sides. This allows for building trust between you and the candidate – ideally, the candidate will feel secure enough to disclose whether they’re pursuing additional opportunities throughout the interview process. This, in turn, can help you navigate the hiring process with your team or client.

Another practice that can prevent ghosting is being transparent with candidates. Transparency regarding expectations for the interview process and, ultimately, for the role can eliminate candidates who will not be a fit from the get-go instead of later in the process. Discussing salary, employer expectations, and more early on can leave room for candidates to speak up in the beginning if it’s not going to be a fit, rather than ghosting later on in the process.

Lastly, it is important to create and manage to an interview process and timelineKeep candidates in the loop regarding timeline, when they should expect updates, and what the hiring process looks like overall. When candidates don’t know what to expect, the process may feel dragged out, and they might become uninterested. Alternatively, if the process is speedier than expected, candidates can feel overwhelmed and unprepared. Either of these can result in ghosting.

Ghosting can feel frustrating, but don’t let it derail you. Instead, use it as an opportunity to improve – whether you’re a candidate or a hiring manager. Using these best practices can prevent ghosting on both ends in recruiting. Who knows? They might ultimately lead you to the perfect opportunity or candidate you were hoping for all along.

This blog was guest-written by Treehouse Partners’ Recruiting Coordinator, Melia Salzer.