At dinner with a friend, the topic of candidates ghosting interviews or vanishing on their first day of work came up. He’s not in HR tech but knew about the phenomenon and was curious what the cause was. He couldn’t fathom how candidates could harm their reputation by simply disappearing.
I’ve written about the topic. My organization gathers and analyzes candidate feedback for recruiting teams to optimize their people, process and technology. My first thought was to give him an informed guess reflecting the prevailing wisdom. But instead I told him the truth.
I explained that the short answer is that they get better offers, but the next question is why don’t they tell anyone that?
I continued, “because employers treat candidates like s%$t and they are upset about it.” The answer was born of sheer frustration.
“For lower wage workers, many employers herd candidates through an automated process that sucks the humanity out of trying to join a company,” I said. “And candidates who persist in this environment often get low offers at the end. I don’t blame them.”
Candidate Ghosting Interviews is the Rational Response
In my line of work, I get to see the hiring experiences of low wage workers in high volume recruiting processes through their eyes. I see candidates who invest their time and most importantly, their future hopes, in a hiring process expecting a degree of humanity on the other end.
They invest their HOPES in the employer’s BRAND and they are DISAPPOINTED. They envision a future LIFE intertwined with a company they admire and endure a process that treats them like cattle.
That’s the worst outcome I can imagine, but it happens every day to good recruiters at well intentioned companies.
What do I see every day?
- Confused candidates getting job offers out of the blue without ever having had an interview.
- Candidates applying for one location and then getting offers for locations hours away.
- Candidates showing up for interviews for positions they didn’t apply to.
- Candidates crushed by low offers after investing their time and HOPES
- Interviewers never showing up online or in person.
- Candidates spending 45 minutes-plus on an application only to receive a rejection letter within seconds.
- Great interview experiences followed by nothing. Ever. No follow up.
You want a job. You invest your time, your energy and your HOPES for the future getting little to no communication, little to no connection to a human being, little to no sense that anyone is actually interested in you as an individual, little to no status updates, and then you get a (perceived) low offer to work at a location hours away. Or, with no offer, the whole experience silently fades into the past with no acknowledgement that you ever existed.
Still not convinced? Survale Partner Greenhouse conducted a survey that showed that 75% of job seekers have been ghosted. What obligation do these candidates have in such circumstances?
Employers Don’t Know What They Don’t Know
So I’ve painted the worst case scenario for high volume, hourly, low wage positions. But similar mis-steps happen at exempt positions from entry to senior level.
The fact is, hiring organizations are overworked, under fed and have had to adapt to “new” dynamics on the fly. I put “new” in quotes because candidates ghosting interviews has been an issue for at least FOUR years yet here we are in a pandemic wondering why this problem is still with us.
Employers mean well, but too many have their head in the sand. They think they are bending over backwards for candidates and they complain about being ghosted.
But the employer who takes candidate satisfaction seriously most often uses flawed methods to convince themselves they are doing great. They typically do one or more of the following things:
- Invest in technologies to improve candidate experience with no way of measuring what the impact of those technologies are, good or bad.
- Survey only newly hired employees, not acknowledging that nobody bad mouths a crappy hiring process when new and feeling fortunate to be there.
- Survey previous candidates once a year, thinking that candidates can remember a particular experience from months past. Thinking candidates will remember your process out of the dozens of other jobs they applied for. This kind of old, unstructured feedback is hard to get and gives employers no idea what happened, when it happened and with whom it happened.
Recruiters do this during a time of unprecedented change and resulting scarcity. Many working remotely with new technological tools for interviewing, scheduling, assessing and onboarding. I work with large organizations getting real time feedback from candidates at every interaction in the hiring process and they STILL run into problems. Hiring relies on contract recruiters, ad platforms, job boards, interview and scheduling technologies, assessment vendors, internal managers…There are too many points of failure and too little visibility into their effects.
That’s the source of my frustration. Of course candidates ghost employers these days! The question is, why have employers not sorted this issue out already?
Only a sustained and effective focus on candidate satisfaction solves this problem. Unless and until employers can get out of their own way, stop complaining about candidates ghosting interviews.