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Feeling Ignored? These 9 Practices Can Help Prevent Applicant Ghosting
By Judy Kneiszel
Ghosting is a slang term first used to describe the ending of a personal relationship by withdrawing from all communication without explanation.

While once relegated to the dating scene, ghosting has become a problem for HR professionals who, after spending time and resources courting a qualified job candidate, find themselves completely cut off from contact (i.e., ghosted).

In todayís tight job market, ghosting has become more frequent because candidates have many options and technology makes it easy to apply for multiple jobs. Some candidates are just fishing to see whatís out there, and others have blanketed the area with resumes and have varying interest in the jobs they applied for.

Sometimes ghosting occurs in the early stages of the process, and a candidate wonít call back to schedule an interview or wonít show up for the initial interview. While early-stage ghosting is annoying, it isnít that costly. More and more, however, itís happening after an offer has been extended, or even accepted, meaning time and money have already been invested in the new hire.

Hereís a common ghosting scenario: After accepting an offer from Company A, the job seeker receives a better offer from Company B, so the job seeker goes to work for Company B but avoids having an awkward conversation with Company A by simply ignoring all communications from the frantic hiring manager.

An ounce of prevention
Once ghosting happens, thereís little that can be done about it, but there are some practices that may help prevent it from happening in the first place:
  1. Shorten the hiring process. The shelf life of good candidates is short these days. Try to schedule interviews with all candidates in a tight window so you can make an offer sooner.
  2. Assume candidates have other irons in the fire. Be aware of what your competitors are offering as far as salary and benefits so that you can compete for talent.
  3. Donít promise more than you can deliver. With job seekers in the driverís seat, you canít get away with over-selling a position or company. Discovering that reality doesnít live up to what they were promised in the job posting or interview is the most likely reason for ghosting.
  4. Donít leave them hanging after they accept an offer. Engage them with immediate and frequent communication that will underscore that this is the job they want.
  5. Avoid potential re-ghosting. Keep a no-hire list of job candidates who have ghosted you in case they apply again in a few months.
  6. Delay rejection. Donít send that ďthank you for your interestĒ email to your runner-up applicants until the new hire has actually been on the job a week or so. But do send one to avoid being labeled a ghoster yourself.
  7. Assume that no response is a response. If you have repeatedly reached out just to get a candidate to schedule an interview, chances are theyíve got another job on the line and youíre just their back-up, which means the risk for ghosting is high.
  8. Overbook. If youíve got four exceptional applicants, dig deeper and schedule interviews with applicants from the next tier in case some donít show up. But donít ghost those you interview who wonít be getting an offer. You might want to revisit them for future openings.
  9. Onboard as quickly and thoroughly as possible. While itís less likely a new hire will ghost you after a few weeks on the job, itís still possible. Help new hires feel a part of the team right away.
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