ghosting [ˈɡōstiNG] noun
the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly, and without explanation, withdrawing from all communication
We’ve all been there. You’re talking to someone new and things are going well. You’ve made plans to meet up and you’re looking forward to it, but when the day and time arrives, the other party never shows. Or maybe they do show up, and you’re having a great time talking and hanging out. But then they excuse themselves for one reason or another, and you never see them again the rest of the night. Or month.
Ghosting happens in professional settings (specifically, in the hiring pipeline) just as often as in social settings. It’s not only frustrating, it’s a huge waste of time and a drain on resources. But what can you do to keep from getting ghosted on interviews and new hire start days? And what causes job applicants to ghost potential employers in the first place?
Why Applicants Are Ghosting You
Ghosting is most commonly discussed in a dating context, and that frame of reference can help us understand the psychology at play in any kind of ghosting, professional or personal. There are a few common reasons that people ghost in dating:
1. They’re just not that into you.
After spending some time getting to know a job applicant through messages and interviews, it could be that the applicant decided they simply aren’t a good fit for your organization, or vice versa. Since the relationship is so new and undeveloped, the applicant may not feel that they “owe” you anything, including the decency to let you know they’ve moved on.
2. They get too busy and priorities change.
Maybe they were ready for a new job when they first applied, but life can throw curve balls quickly. Whether it's a drastic update at home or in the workplace, applicants might ghost you if they’ve had a sudden change of heart about starting a new job.
3. Too much time passed by.
Relationship-building is a two-way street. If an employer doesn’t stay engaged with a candidate and communicate regularly, it’s hardly surprising that candidates will respond in kind with silence...and interest in other employers.
4. The impersonal landscape makes it easy.
Dating apps make it easy to forget that there’s a human being on the receiving end of our interactions, and thus easier to throw social norms out the window. The same thing happens in hiring with impersonal, automated emails and voice messages; when an applicant receives canned replies from an employer, they feel less pressure to return the message.
5 Tips for Keeping Applicants Engaged
The common thread in all these reasons for ghosting is failure (or inability) to communicate in a timely and transparent manner. Here are five tips for talking to job applicants in a way that will keep them engaged and prevent you from getting ghosted.
1. Start talking to applicants quickly.
Watch your job postings closely and respond to applicants almost immediately. If you wait too long to get in touch, they’re likely to interview and accept an offer elsewhere before you’ve even started talking to them.
2. Confirm interview appointments and send reminders.
How many times have you been saved by a reminder for an appointment that you completely forgot about? Give your candidates the same regard by sending messages to confirm appointments.
3. Shorten your interviewing and hiring process.
The longer it takes to move from “applied” to “hired,” the more time candidates have to evaluate other options. Take a close look at all the phases in your hiring process and look for ways to eliminate unnecessary steps.
4. Keep them engaged as you move them through your process.
The key to not getting ghosted at an interview is timely and transparent communication leading up to the interview, so check in with the applicant frequently, even if there’s been no change in their status with your company.
5. After they accept the job offer, keep engaging with them.
This speeds up orientation by completing paperwork or watching training videos ahead of time, but it also shows interest and excitement on behalf of the employer, which can deter applicants from continuing to search for other opportunities after they've accepted your offer.
There’s no way to be 100% sure you won’t be ghosted at an interview, but it all comes down to the platinum rule: treat other people as they want to be treated. That means touching base regularly (via text message) once someone applies, and creating a positive, engaging experience every step of the way to hiring them. Find out how Team Engine can help you do both with a demo and free trial.