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Candidate Ghosting

Candidate Ghosting

You’ve set up the time and location for the meeting, made arrangements to ensure everything goes smoothly, and have prepped yourself to make a good impression. Then the day arrives … and nothing. The person doesn’t show. You call and get their voicemail. Follow-up emails are left unanswered. They’ve simply disappeared without a word. No, it’s not a story from the brutal world of online dating; it’s increasingly a story heard about talent acquisition. Candidates are “ghosting” employers – sometimes even after they’ve been made a job offer.

According to LinkedIn research[1], a significant 95% of recruiters have experienced candidates “ghosting” them during the interview process. The problem has become so acute that 24% of recruiters admit to calling a new hire on their first day to check whether they showed up.

Having to start again from scratch or scramble to re-connect with a second-choice candidate means wasted time for hiring managers and HR, in addition to lost team productivity and potentially lost revenue from extra vacancy days.

Buoyed by talent shortages and low unemployment, candidates are exercising greater control over the recruitment process. While it may be recruiters who are bearing the brunt of this, HR professionals undertaking recruitment for their own organisation are also being impacted.

Anyone who’s applied for a job via a recruiter – or directly with an employer – and received limited or no feedback might say it’s only fair that the shoe is on the other foot. However, it’s worth considering if there’s something deeper going on.

It’s definitely worthwhile stepping back and considering the recruitment process from the candidate’s point of view. Doing so can be an eye-opener: it’s likely you’ll uncover unexplained and unacceptable gaps and delays, as well as head-scratching, talent-repelling hoops that candidates are expected to jump through.

Here are some commonly cited issues.

  1. Poor communication

It’s a generalisation but the way we communicate with candidates is poor. We’d never treat a customer or vendor (let alone a friend or family member) in such a way. We make candidates wait weeks between communication, and when we do communicate it’s often via terse email messages with new instructions to follow and no acknowledgement that their efforts will be worthwhile.

Ensuring candidates are kept in the loop need not be an onerous task. Technology can help. A platform such as ELMO Recruitment can ensure that candidates are kept in the loop at every step of the recruitment process. Email templates, auto-text populate functions and automatically generated updates can be used to ensure communication keeps flowing. Of course, automation is no excuse for doing away with human interaction. For interviewed candidates, make sure you pick up the phone: candidates are people, just like you. They want and expect a connection of genuine interest, curiosity and empathy.

All candidates, let alone shortlisted candidates, want to know where they sit in the recruitment process and how long the process will take. Unsuccessful candidates deserve acknowledgement that their application has been assessed and appreciated – but will not be progressing further.

  1. Unstructured, inconsistent recruitment processes

Recruitment is one corporate function that truly benefits from a structured process. For example:

John, who heads the Brisbane finance team, likes to view all applications and be involved in all interviews. He prefers each of his shortlisted candidates to undertake a practical task as well as a psychometric assessment. HR is only involved in the drawing up of contracts. He’s thorough, and this slows the process down – to the point where some candidates get snaffled up by the competition.

Kym, on the other hand, who heads the Sydney finance team, prefers to meet only the final 2 shortlisted candidates after they’ve been vetted by the HR team. She’s not interested in psychometric assessments. She goes on “gut feel” but likes to undertake very thorough reference checking. Because she prefers to get the recruitment process over quickly, her decisions have resulted in some costly hiring mistakes with people who simply haven’t fit with the culture.

Clearly, as these two examples show, the candidate experience can vary dramatically, and it may mean some excellent candidates slip through the net due to the whims (or quirks) of hiring managers.

Technology such as ELMO Recruitment can help to ensure standardised recruitment workflows are followed, from job requisition through to offer acceptance and contract signing – while still providing the flexibility required to hire good talent quickly.

  1. Your recruitment process is too long

Top talent is off the market in as little as 10 days. They are not sitting around waiting for you to collect applications, vet them and eventually contact them – let alone jump through hoops to get in for an interview. Our previous blog highlighted how a lengthy recruitment process can cost time and money. For example, research from recruiter Robert Half shows that 57% of HR managers have lost a qualified candidate to another opportunity due to a lengthy hiring process – a figure that jumps to 67% in large organisations.

One way to combat not just a lengthy process is a structure with established workflows, so that everyone knows what steps are required for successful hiring. Another option is the creation of talent pools. This can consist of internal and external candidates who have applied for roles but have not been successful (for any number of reasons) – yet they have the potential to work for your organisation down the path. When a suitable role presents itself, these people are easily contactable thanks to your talent pool. It’s also a convenient way to tap into “passive candidates” – those people who are open to a new role but are not proactively looking. ELMO Recruitment can help to create talent pools and then nurture that talent with regular company updates, communication about vacant roles, and more. Having a pool of “ready” candidates could make the difference between engaging with and recruiting elusive talent and missing out to the competition.

Why bother?

In this social age, bad word of mouth can undo in minutes the years spent carefully building up your employment brand. And make no mistake – candidates will spread their views. Regardless of whether they receive a job offer or not, applicants who are satisfied with their candidate experience are more than twice as likely to recommend the hiring organisation to others and are 38% more likely to accept a job offer[2].

Human beings are fickle, unpredictable creatures, and “ghosting” will probably always occur – both in the quest for the perfect life partner as much as the quest for the ideal employee – but with some simple changes you can ensure it’s not your recruitment process that’s to blame.


To assess how much time, money and resources your organisation could potentially save by automating recruitment processes with ELMO Recruitment, try the easy-to-use ELMO Recruitment ROI Calculator. For further information on ELMO’s end-to-end integrated HR, payroll, rostering / time & attendance solutions, contact us.

[1] “Everyone’s Least Favourite Dating Trend Has Hit the Office”, LinkedIn article, December 15, 2018

[2] “Far-Reaching Impact of Candidate Experience”, IBM, 2017