3 Ways For Recruiters To Deal With Professional Ghosting By Candidates

3 Ways For Recruiters To Deal With Professional Ghosting By Candidates

This article has been updated on March 29th 2023.

Finally. After months of searching for the perfect candidate, you’ve won the lottery. It seems like it anyway.

You walk into work with a spring in your step.

Just when you think life is looking up, you notice an insistent buzz.

It’s the team lead on the phone wondering where the newbie is. You try reaching the candidate, but you can’t.

All your frantic attempts have hit a brick wall.

Guess what? You’ve been “professionally” ghosted.

When a candidate disappears into thin air

Have you gone through professional ghosting by candidates?


For years companies have ghosted candidates. The tables have turned now and the harsh truth is that it is a candidate’s market.

The lack of professional courtesy is obviously frustrating, yet, not surprising anymore, because it’s all in a day’s work for a recruiter in today’s time.

— Jamini Pulyadath, Talent Acquisition Manager, HackerEarth

Could it be payback? Or plain bad manners? Was it a nicer way to avoid the awkwardness that accompanies refusal? Whatever the reason, ghosting has become a common phenomenon in the job market.

Professional ghosting by candidates occurs when that candidate goes incommunicado abruptly with no explanation. This is particularly harrowing for recruiters who have spent months trying to get the right person for a role.

They are gutted when their purple unicorns go AWOL. From wondering if a spaceship has beamed up a candidate to hoping that no unforeseen accident has befallen the candidate, recruiters are in a frenzy trying to make contact.

It isn’t that no-shows and last-minute refusals are new for a hiring team.

When a candidate doesn’t respond to the final job offer post interviews or show up on the first day of work or reply to urgent emails during the hiring process, you can kiss your incentives goodbye.

However, let’s see how getting ghosted after candidate interviews (or after multiple interviews) or accepting a job offer is truly a recruiter’s biggest nightmare.

Why are you getting professionally ghosted?

I think ghosting is a failure of the process: not setting the tone and expectations and not understanding your candidate. If you ask beforehand where are you in the process with other companies and your candidate is in final rounds or in offer negotiations when your candidate ghosts you, you might think it was the role, but, in actuality, it was another offer.

—Eileen Hennessey, Head of US HR Operations at LexInsight

#1 Job seekers don’t like to be ghosted either

Most have been at the receiving end at one time or another. They’ve spent several nail-biting moments waiting for that call or that email from a hirer.

To be harsh, the companies brought this upon themselves. Could they have been more respectful or transparent when turning down employees?

Look at this poorly worded rejection email a candidate shared on Twitter.

Poor rejection emails lead to professional ghosting by candidates

No wonder dejected employees feel strongly about the apathy and lack of courtesy HR managers show when rejecting a candidate.

Pro tip:

Recruiters could take solace in the fact that such behavior doesn’t bode well for a healthy employer-employee relationship in the future had the candidate shown up. Remember that it pays to be courteous even if your candidate decides to call you after a few days.

Also read: 5 Reasons For Bad Candidate Experience In Tech Interviews

#1 Job applicants don’t particularly like to disappoint recruiters

Often, people avoid picking up calls when they are sure the conversation is likely to be uncomfortable

Refusing a job offer at the nth minute is unprofessional (without good reason), and they know it.

Pro tip:

Recruiters could just file it away like a bad experience and get back on the hunt and hope for success.

#3 Ghosters have poor etiquette

They have no further use for you — they got a better offer, or they heard scary things about your company, or they simply changed their mind because they didn’t like your recruiting approach.

They are neither courteous enough nor smart enough to offer excuses and not burn bridges.

Pro tip:

Recruiters should consider it an example of good riddance to bad rubbish. Or, hirers could just give them the benefit of the doubt and move on. More importantly, it could be time to change your hiring process.

3 ways to respond to professional ghosting by candidates

#1 Pay attention to the candidate experience

Candidate experience, which must be optimized at every stage of the recruiting funnel, is directly linked to recruitment performance. Indeed, a recent report by Appcast shows that a whopping 92% of candidates are put off by and do not complete filling out long-drawn-out online job applications.

Next would be to identify where and why the candidate has abandoned you (candidates start the application process but don’t complete it; they don’t respond to calls or show up at interviews; they reject the offer at the last minute or become a no-show.)

Additionally, what recruiters could also do to avoid professional ghosting by candidates is:

  • Decrease the time taken for a candidate to go from an interview to an offer
  • Ensure the application process is easy and straightforward
  • Make sure your evaluation process is free from unconscious bias
  • Set firm deadlines for every step of the hiring process
  • Find ways to improve candidate engagement and build a better relationship with your candidates
  • Use automated talent assessment tools or a blind hiring approach to create a positive candidate experience
  • Optimize your application process for mobile devices
  • Invest in a candidate engagement platform to drastically reduce the application abandonment rate.
  • Send timely updates and provide constructive feedback to all your candidates, even the ones that were not selected

All the above steps might prevent a no-show on the first day. At the end of the day, doing your bit to keep candidates engaged throughout is what’s in your hands. The rest is up to fate.

Also read: 6 Must-Track Candidate Experience Metrics To Hire Better

How FaceCode Can Help Improve Your Candidate Experience | FREE EBOOK

#2 Do to others as you would have them do to you

There is no excuse for blatant disregard. Sometimes, recruiters get ghosted because they have at some point in time or the other failed to respond to candidates after an interview.

These disappointed candidates (who are your customers as well and could affect sales even) would have spoken to other potential hires about their bad experiences.

As a direct result of that, your employer branding will take a hit and soon enough, no candidate wants to apply for your company.

Bad experiences are long-lasting and widely shared. Looks like it pays to be nice, doesn’t it?

It really is a small world; let candidates know when they don’t make the cut and why in time.

  • Treat people the way you would like to be treated
  • Be professional and communicative, and you may see fewer candidates ghosting you
  • Timely, personalized communication is linked to a positive impression after all
  • The best way to reject candidates is by calling them. Be kind with your comments

#3 Ask the right questions and watch for warning signals

Recruiters should remember to ask candidates about counteroffers, their aspirations, what motivates them, and what concerns they may have about showing up for the interview or signing on the dotted line

  • Set expectations right from the onset
  • Be upfront and clear about every step in your recruitment process
  • Give your candidate a real glimpse into your company
  • Keep the line of communication open and be personable

Some red flags to look out for would be: candidates who are not that interested in learning about the role, the company, or your role within the organization, and candidates who state they are in the final stages with other companies already.

We can’t always be “ghost” riders!

Within a candidate-driven market, it has become increasingly important to have always your plan B ready to go as more candidates attempt to withdraw after they’ve formally accepted your job offer.

You can never be 100% sure if a candidate will actually join, until their first day in the office. Offering the best candidate experience from A to Z throughout the entire hiring process is all you can do to attract talent for your company.

—Jesse, a corporate recruiter in the European fashion industry.

In many parts of the world, you can see that hiring is often tricky because it is a candidate-driven market. There are more white-collar workers refusing to turn up for interviews or work than before.

That being case, recruiters have to plot their strategy carefully, ensuring that the candidate has a great experience at every step, and you are in no danger of ending up with a non-starter.

Have you had similar experiences? Do tell us.

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