[2-minute insight]

It’s rude, it’s annoying, it’s ghosting! This article is about this frustrating behaviour and the real reasons why candidates ghost.

In a previous post, I touched on the emotional impact of feeling ignored. What better example is there than when a person does a bunk without a simple “Thanks but no thanks.”

So simple, yet seemingly so difficult for the 28% of candidates who admitted they’d ghosted an employer (Source: Indeed 2022)

Online dating behaviour introduced the concept of ghosting and it has since wormed its ugly way into the professional world. It’s the professional equivalent of standing someone up for a date.

You’ve found a great potential candidate, planned and scheduled an interview but not only have they not showed up, they’re also ignoring your emails and phone calls. Or maybe you’ve conducted the interview, offered them the job and poof, vanished! Time to call Ghostbusters.

It’s frustrating behaviour, so why do people do it? Countless articles on why candidates ghost will have you believing:

  • They’ve received a job offer more suited to their needs.
  • They’ve had a poor candidate experience.
  • There’s been a counter offer from their current employer.
  • The job description didn’t match their expectations.

All valid but incorrect. The above are reasons why candidates don’t pursue a position, but that’s not why they ghost. Failing to communicate with a potential employer is a behaviour and a choice. Here are some of the real reasons people ghost:

  • Avoidance of an uncomfortable conversation or fear of being pressured.
  • A belief that, in a candidate led market, the candidate is king so it doesn’t matter. As such, they’re not concerned about repercussions.
  • Lack of understanding the right way to decline a job offer.
  • Subconscious ‘payback’ for the times the candidate themselves has been ghosted.
  • They didn’t feel a sense of trust and rapport so therefore don’t feel they owe an explanation.
  • Learned behaviour from social media interaction and being part of a growing ‘disposable’ online culture.

A candidate’s actions or inactions are always a result of their beliefs, learned responses from the past and self concept. Whatever their reason, it doesn’t condone the behaviour or alleviate how frustrating and disappointing it feels to have your time and energy wasted; Especially when a simple email or phone call of polite decline would suffice.

So what can you do?

Implement strategies to lessen the chances of being ghosted? Sure, there’s plenty of those but these strategies serve to create an attractive and authentic proposition to the candidate, which is what the hiring process is all about right?

Candidates have always had and always will have had a choice – to accept or decline. How they go about the latter is beyond anyone’s control, that’s between them and their conscience. Whilst you can’t change the behaviour, you can prepare for it!

In my next post: How You Can Start Reversing the Candidate Ghosting Trend‘ I dip into a few strategies which will help you reduce the risk of candidates ghosting from the beginning.

Samantha Lynne
I help business owners & hiring managers streamline candidate interviews to make right-first-time hires for the long-term.