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Candidate Ghosting: Recruitment Is a Haunted House Filled with Ghosts

“You need to have a collaborative hiring process.” – Steve Jobs, Co-Founder of Apple

As a recruiter, have you ever lost a candidate for no apparent reason? You find yourself moving through the different stages of the hiring process. You think to yourself that this is going well. But, when the time finally comes to pull the ripcord and make that jump to recruitment, the candidate vanishes like the Phantom of the Opera. A candidate ghosting you isn’t a remote possibility, but a near certainty. Because even if you do everything right, there is still a chance you will encounter a phantom.

Therefore, it is no guarantee that things will swing your way even if you make all the right moves. This makes the issue of “when”, not “if”. Having said that, this blog will aim to give you perspective on why candidate ghosting happens, the impacts it can have on businesses, and of course, solutions on how you can minimize the issue.

Candidate ghosting can happen for a million different reasons. It can be hard to pinpoint the exact reason without a detailed feedback survey or something along those lines. However, experience has taught us that it can be one of the five reasons we have listed below. Though there could be multiple reasons clubbed together as well, we will focus on what we know, and not speculation.

Reason 1: Salary Didn’t Meet Expectations

One of the leading causes of candidates abandoning a recruitment process is because the salary offered to them was too low. Think about it from their perspective. They just spent the better part of a work week attending interviews, quizzes, and tests just for the hiring manager to give them a low-ball offer. That’s why establishing the expectations at the very beginning is crucial so that everyone is on the same page.

Multiple Options Lead to Candidate Ghosting

One of the biggest challenges of recruitment these days is you have candidates with multiple job offers.

Reason 2: The Candidate Got Another Job

Today’s job market is highly competitive, and that is quite a well-known fact. Therefore, finding the right talent is made that much harder. So, when you do get that candidate and you drag out the recruitment process more than needed, you risk losing them to another company. A lengthy process in itself may not necessarily be the cause of candidate ghosting. But, when we lump that in with the multiple job offers they could get in that time frame, then the risk is there.

Reason 3: The Candidate Doesn’t Really Want the New Position

Not every candidate who applies for a job is on the lookout for a change of career. Some of them, from the very beginning, were applying without any real motivation to change jobs. They might have just been testing the waters of the labor market to see if their skills were in demand. Such candidates are unlikely to respond to recruiters, no matter how well they handle the situation.

Reason 4: The Current Employer Reeled Them Back In

Let’s say that everything goes well and you send out an offer letter to the candidate. There is still a chance of a candidate ghosting. In this scenario, the candidate went back to their employer and gave their notice for termination of employment. And in this instance, the current employer renegotiated the terms of employment to keep the candidate. If the offer is good enough, the candidate will abandon the current recruitment process, sometimes without even notifying the recruiters.

"People are not your most important asset. The right people are.”

– Jim Collins, American Author

Reason 5: Their Time Was Not Appreciated

This means that, in the candidate’s opinion, the brand and the business may have been exceptional. However, they had a less than ideal hiring experience thanks to the recruiter they used. The candidate might have felt like just another name in a long list of applicants because the recruiter came across as indifferent. While it’s true that candidates are taking time out of their day to participate in the hiring process, this should be recognized.

However, if you work with a reputable staffing firm like Pure Staffing Solutions, for instance, the candidate’s experience comes first. Obviously, this only happens when agencies like Pure Staffing Solutions appoint recruiters who have identified the shortcomings in the sector and are striving to make things better.

The Impact of Candidate Ghosting on Businesses

Candidate ghosting affects both candidates and businesses. If we look at the business aspect, it is the first step in the erosion of brand image and business relationships. The same could be said for the candidate’s brand image, as engaging recruiters again in the future could be hard. Then, of course, there is the investor aspect to consider. Once it gets out that candidates are ghosting your recruitment process, investors will likely have doubts as to why that is. This could affect the confidence they have in your company. So yes, it has a ripple effect that goes beyond just the immediate recruitment process.

How to Minimize the Impact of Candidate Ghosting

There are many ways in which you could achieve this. Having said that, we have identified some key ways in which you could address the more common reasons for candidate ghosting. Keep in mind that the needs of each business are unique, and the same applies to the candidates they recruit, so do what works best for you.

#1 - Establish Clear Expectations

When you first present the job offer, try to include as many essential details as possible so that there is no ambiguity as to what the job entails. For example, include a rough salary range so candidates know what to expect. When describing daily tasks, use short bullet points. Use convenient methods of collecting resumes, like the LinkedIn Easy Apply button. You can also include details about the different stages of the hiring process and how long it will take.

A more concise recruitment process in more likely to appeal to candidates.

Candidate Ghosting and Long Recruitment Processes

# 2 Keep It Short

As we mentioned before, having an overly lengthy hiring process can lead to candidates losing interest or another employer swooping in. Keep it within a reasonable time frame. Having said that, try not to shorten the duration so much that you lose out on the quality of the recruitment process. Rushing it does you no favors either.

#3 Maintain Open Lines of Communication

One of the most frustrating aspects of any recruitment process for a candidate is being left in the dark. The solution is to touch base with them early on and often. Let them know that if they have questions, you are always available at any point in the recruitment process. Offer them an email address or phone number they can use to get the clarity they need. This is a great way to let candidates know that you won’t ghost them, which makes candidate ghosting less likely.

#4 Shift Focus to the Candidate's Experience

As mentioned above, one of the leading reasons for candidate ghosting is a poor recruitment experience. It could be that they were nervous, the recruiter wasn’t very considerate, or that the process took too long and was inconvenient for them. Whatever it may be, it is your responsibility as the employer to put them at ease and make the process as convenient as possible.

If you make it a candidate-focused process, then even if they aren’t selected, they will walk away with a positive image of your brand. Take the time to get to know your candidates and reap the benefits.


So, there you have it, some of the reasons surrounding the ghosting done by candidates, the impacts it can have, and the steps you can take to minimize it. Yes, you read that right, minimize, not eliminate. Because at the end of the day, you could do everything right and give them the best possible recruitment experience in the world, and it still might not be enough.

There is no 100% guarantee that candidates will opt to join your company every single time. All you can do is take steps to reduce the impact and improve your chances of landing that top talent you’re after.