Stop ghosting your candidates!


I love recruitment, out of all the HR functions it’s my favourite, I tell people it’s because it’s mostly a positive experience, you know, up until you have to tell someone they were unsuccessful for a job.

A lot of companies and recruiters deal with this by just not getting back to candidates, whether by the old “only shortlisted candidates will be contacted” or just obvious ghosting, but what damage are they doing to their brand in doing so?

Urban Dictionary describes ghosting as “The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ‘ghostee’ will just ‘get the hint’ and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them that they are no longer interested.” The recruiting-world equivalent of “ghosting” is when a candidate goes through the interview process, and the recruiter ceases communication with the interviewee without any explanation. And no, the “thanks but we hired someone else” generic email sent to the candidate 4 months later doesn’t make up for it. That’s the recruiting-world equivalent of the “It’s not you, it’s me” lame excuse. Urban Dictionary goes on to state, “Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject’s maturity and communication skills.”

One of my friends applied for a job with a big local employer earlier this year, the job was being advertised via a very expensive Perth based recruitment firm and while she was already performing an equivalent role, it was with a much smaller company so this would have been a promotion of sorts. She was shortlisted for first round interviews and was told by the recruiter she was definitely a contender and she should hear back within 1 – 2 weeks. The 2 week mark passes so she sends a friendly email to the recruiter to ask if she is the preferred candidate, the recruiter replies he is awaiting a response from the employer. Another week passes, this time she calls and leaves a message, she doesn’t hear back. 4 weeks later (6 weeks after the initial interview) and 1 unreturned phone call and 3 unreturned emails later she finally hears she has been unsuccessful. Fast forward to several months later the same employer advertises a similar position, I ask her if she is going to apply. “Hell no, if thats the contempt they treat their candidates with when they are trying to get someone to work for them then how do they treat their employees”

Ghosting is not only rude, but can also have lasting effects on your company. Employers who ghost leave candidates with a bad taste in their mouths, affecting their overall perception of your brand. It’s important to remember that even though it’s just an interview, you still want to represent your company in the best way possible.

Another way ghosting could affect your company is by ruining your online employer reputation. Company review sites, like Seek or Indeed, allow for not just employees, but also interviewees to leave reviews on a business. You definitely don’t want your ideal candidate turning down the interview because he or she read that your company’s communication leaves little to be desired.

If someone has taken the time to prepare an application, taken time away from their existing job to come and meet with you for an interview, the least you can do is give them a call to give them some feedback. Best practice is if the person has been interviewed then they get a call, if they haven’t been interviewed then an email will suffice, preferably within a few days of the successful candidate accepting the position to lessen the chance of them hearing they didn’t get it through the grapevine.

When working in the mining industry during the boom it would not be uncommon for me to receive 300 candidates for a position. That would be 300 resumes to read and shortlist & 300 candidates to give feedback to. Multiply that by 30 positions on the go at any one time thats a lot of work and I’m proud to say I ensured every candidate was afforded the courtesy of a reply. If thats possible then employers can definitely get back to the 20 odd candidates they are getting for some positions.

82% of employers think that a bad candidate experience has little or no effect on the company, according to a recent Careerbuilder survey. Subsequently, a majority of employers respond to less than half of the candidates who apply. On the other side of the coin, 84% of candidates expect a personal email response, and more than half anticipate a phone call. Thanking a potential employee for taking the time to apply for job at your company is a small courtesy. But what many get is a brush-off akin to last night’s date sitting by the phone, waiting for the call that never comes.

Like the neglected lover, candidates remember when companies don’t respond or keep in touch with them: the same survey shows 58% are less likely to buy from a company if they don’t get a response and 69% shun the company after a bad interview experience.

In a world where disappointed candidates can send their plight viral with a few keystrokes and the click of a button, it’s time for employers to stop treating candidates like the proverbial pain in the butt and start treating them like a customer in their business.

At a time when industry leaders and managers clamor for more qualified skilled workers, it doesn’t pay for companies to be invisible and ignore job seekers. Candidates expect more. And they deserve better.

Don’t let your recruitment practices damage your company brand, The People & Culture Office can assist with end to end recruitment for a competitive hourly rate. No perm fees, no bad candidate experience, just quality service from a local with over 14 years recruitment experience.

Based in Kalgoorlie, The People & Culture Office is an independent HR Consultant who can partner with you to offer a one stop HR solution, we only charge you for the work we perform; no contracts, no annual or monthly fees, just quality service. Click here to learn more