Applicant Ghosting: What Is It and What Can You Do About It?

Job applicants sitting down

Job seekers are all too familiar with corporate ghosting. This happens when prospective employers don’t get back to them regarding their job application, even if it’s just to let them know they didn’t get the position. This silence on the employers’ side serves as a clear sign that a candidate didn’t make the cut.

Recently, the unemployment rate has been the lowest in 50 years. This shows that the hiring market is competitive, snatching up talents left and right, which is good for both prospective employees and their employers. One downside of this, though, is that the tables seem to have turned against employers when it comes to ghosting. Now, recruiters are experiencing applicant ghosting, which happens when job seekers don’t show up at their prospective employer’s office for some reason—whether for an interview, for training, or to start their first day of work.

What is Employee Ghosting?

The word “ghosting” is borrowed from the online dating world. It means to completely disappear from a relationship by cutting off all communications without giving the ghosted party any warning or explanation. In the corporate world, “candidate ghosting” or “applicant ghosting” goes by the same principle: a job applicant stops responding to an employer’s efforts to hire them.

According to a USA Today report, about 20 to 50 percent of job applicants pull no-shows or ghosting in some form. We discuss them below and present options for what you can do if it happens during your recruitment process.

1. Not showing up for an interview

With an efficient HR applicant tracking system, you were able to sort through several job applicants and then promptly schedule an interview with them, only for them not to appear. Unfortunately, this happens often, either during the first interview or the latter stages of the hiring process. Usually, this means that an applicant is no longer on the job market and has received another job offer.

What to Do: There’s nothing you can do when it comes to applicants that ghosted you, but your company can take steps to prevent it from happening again. During the application process, let them freely express themselves, whether by asking clarifications or simply letting you know they’re not moving forward with the application.

2. Not showing up on the first day

Job applicants waiting

You successfully interviewed an applicant and they accepted your offer, but they did not show up on their first day. Believe it or not, this happens all the time. According to a Washington-based research firm, Clutch, 1 in 10 job seekers believes it’s okay to ghost even after accepting a job offer. The most common reasons for this are accepting another job offer (30%) or deciding that the role or the company doesn’t suit them (19%).

What to Do: Since one of the main reasons potential employees ghost you on the first day is realizing that the job or company culture doesn’t match their expectations, you must make sure you clearly define your job postings. Ensure that what you promise on job sites — roles, benefits, and challenges — match what you say during the interview and they’re actually what applicants can expect once they’re hired.

Talent acquisition is rife with many challenges, but, like other problems, ghosting comes down to communication. With transparency and effective communication between you and your applicants, applicant ghosting will no longer haunt your recruitment process.

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