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How do we deal with the rise of ghosting in the interview process?

Posted May 15, 2024

Sadly, and I think this is a direct product of automated processes, ghosting has become more and more common in the hiring process and is one of the biggest pain points for candidates in today’s job market.

What is interview ghosting?

This refers to the ceasing of all communication with a candidate after the interview.

As an interesting aside here, this is an extrapolation of the CV ghosting problem that arose as a product of email/internet/outsourcing (god this makes me feel old) many years ago. When I began a career in recruitment, some 30 years ago, the delivery of a candidate was personally done (often by hand, if not by fax – look it up youngsters!) with an associated conversation, giving the opportunity for full feedback loops to both sides. As a consequence all candidates got feedback on their CV submissions.

We lamented it when this disappeared, and in the main it has not returned – and is probably a product of busy hiring managers not having the time to feedback, processes not having the time to feedback, a lack of appetite for confrontation, or a societal shift to not wanting to deliver bad news.

What is the interview process?

The investment of energy from various parties to get to this point is significant, there is:

  • the sourcing of the candidates (either through attraction or search, there is a cost associated with this);
  • the processing of the application (manual, automated or otherwise, there is a requirement for people and systems to get the application to the correct person);
  • then the review and subsequent organisation of the interview itself;
  • and finally the interview, or series of interviews (often involving more than one person and more than one instance)

And then whilst the successful candidate is inevitably engaged (they wouldn’t be successful otherwise), what is the brand damage, and cost, associated with the unsuccessful interviewee’s?

The impact of being interview ghosted

The cold avoidance of full and frank feedback is disorientating and discouraging for the candidate. It is hard for them to not feel as though their time and efforts have been wasted, and inevitably they feel taken advantage of. They also have no idea where they missed the mark for the client, and what if they were a close fit, what if they could be suitable for another role, what if their experience develops over the coming months and they become suitable?

They in effect become a lost candidate to the business due to past experience, and in this day and age of critical candidate shortages that seems either short sighted or a touch arrogant.

Moving forwards

And so our message to hirers is don’t ghost. Give full and frank feedback to all interviewee’s, you never know when they may become a candidate again, or in specialist markets when they may be interviewing you in the future!

And to candidates, this isn’t your fault and is not just happening to you. This is fast becoming a standard in a market that is at risk of over processing and removing critical human touch points in the hiring process. All that nonresponse means is that you are not the front runner for the position that you were going for, so perhaps make the assumption you were a close second and move onto the next opportunity.