One of the biggest recruitment headaches small businesses face is investing time and effort in sourcing and interviewing candidates only for them to vanish into thin air at the final stages. Also known as ‘ghosting’ this is essentially where all contact ceases, despite many recruiters believing the candidate was interested and engaged. So how can you stop your candidates from ghosting you?

Why do candidates ghost employers?

Most businesses never know why a candidate ghosted them and have to move on. However, there could be a few common reasons:

  • There is simply more choice in the marketplace today and it’s a ‘candidate’s market’. Businesses are struggling to fill vacancies whilst candidates are receiving multiple job offers.
  • Social etiquette has changed and many candidates want to avoid confrontation or having awkward conversations. This is also borne out of a culture of recruiters ghosting candidates too, so can work both ways.
  • The recruitment process has taken too long – they have lost interest or have found something else in the meantime.
  • The communication process isn’t working properly – there may have been miscommunication or misunderstanding.
  • Your company culture doesn’t appeal to them – we know that company culture is important for the next generation of job seekers. It could be that yours simply doesn’t appeal to them so they have gone elsewhere.
  • The candidate is hedging their bets and waiting for a better offer – in which case there is nothing more you can do.

What to do if a candidate ghosts you

Although you may not be able to stop all candidates from vanishing, such is the nature of the job market at the moment, there are steps you can take. The first is to ensure that your hiring process is efficient and timely.

  1. Communicate your company culture effectively: what is it that makes your business special and a great place to work? Do your staff endorse your business? All of this helps to build your business brand with potential recruits and demonstrates your values and ethos. This can be as simple as a page on your website or an ‘about us’ document in the information you send candidates. You could also consider creating a Culture Book.
  2. Be clear with candidates on timelines: let them know when they can expect to be interviewed, when they will receive feedback and other key dates. This removes any ambiguity or waiting around on the candidate’s part. Being up front and transparent with your hiring practice should leave everyone knowing where they stand in the process.
  3. Build a strong relationship from the start: this will help candidates to understand you’re not a faceless hiring manager, and that in a small business their actions will have an impact. Be personable and friendly in communication from the outset.
  4. Take practical steps: firstly, if you have tried to reach the candidate and received no response initially try sending a request which requires a response and uses persuasive language. This could be a scheduled call or meeting with a specified time and date. Try personalising your message to reflect their skills or something you have learnt from the conversations which will demonstrate it’s not a generic message to everyone.
  5. Make an offer they can’t refuse: remember that it’s a candidate’s market and your offer needs to be competitive. Benchmark your salary offering against industry averages to make sure you’re not low-balling. Michael Page has a handy salary comparison tool.
  6. Think about your communication tools: emails can get lost or overlooked easily and many young people aren’t keen to answer calls from unknown numbers. Depending on your age group you could consider texting or sending a WhatsApp to communicate.
  7. If you receive no response then don’t spend anymore time chasing. You have been clear, communicative and offered a specific date or action. If you don’t receive a response then it is time to move on.
  8. Keep records of vanishing candidates: be sure to record details of those who are unresponsive so that you can avoid wasting valuable time and resource should they apply for a role in future.

It’s also important to remember that if you have followed the steps above and are still ghosted by a candidate then it’s better to move on. These are not the sort of employees you want in your business, and if a candidate behaves in this way before they have even commenced employment, then they are better off elsewhere. It’s far better to focus your time and resource on candidates who will be an asset to your organisation rather than chasing those who won’t.

For more recruitment tips, read our guide to recruiting the right people and ‘how to hire your first employee.’