Urban Dictionary describes ghosting as “The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ‘ghostee’ will just ‘get the hint’ and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them that they are no longer interested.”
The recruiting-world equivalent of “ghosting” is when a candidate goes through the interview process, and the recruiter ceases communication with the interviewee without any explanation. And no the “thanks but we hired someone else” perfunctory email sent to the candidate four months later doesn’t make up for it. That’s the recruiting-world equivalent of the “It’s not you, it’s me” lame excuse.
Urban Dictionary goes on to state, “Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject's maturity and communication skills.”
Interviews don’t just take up time and energy on the company’s side. They are an investment of time and effort on the candidate’s part as well. A “mature” company that cares about its people (and by extension its candidates), communicates well not only when scheduling interviews, but also when they’ve decided to end the recruiting “relationship” with a candidate.
Communicate Well with a Customized Message
I once went through the interview process for a high-level marketing position with a Chicago-based technology firm. This process consisted of the original screening call, an hour-long phone interview with the head of sales and then a full day of one-on-one interviews with various members of the executive team (for which I used a vacation day). Feeling very positive, I left their offices with the assurance that the recruiter would let me know “next steps” within the next two weeks.
That was almost four years ago, and all I ever heard was nada… zilch… didley-squat. Not even a cowardly “It’s not you, it’s me” email about how wonderful I am but someone else was more “qualified.” You can bet I’ve shared my thoughts about that experience on the company’s Glassdoor page.
And why wouldn’t I complain about them on Glassdoor? Could they possible be more blatant in their arrogance and disregard for candidates? Imagine how they treat people who’ve accepted their employment offers.
People love to blab about their bad experiences, and as the aforementioned story can attest, I’m one of them. A Dimensional Research/Zen Desk study revealed that “95% of respondents who have had a bad experience said they told someone about it, compared to 87% who shared a good experience.”
Just because the recruiter has decided to go quiet on the candidate doesn’t mean the candidate will reciprocate and go mum. In fact it’s unlikely. Make a regular practice of candidate ghosting, and it won’t take long for it to have an effect on your employer brand and reputation.
Candidates are Customers Too
“The customer is always right” is an expression that’s been around forever and ever for a reason. Customers buy your stuff, which keeps salaries paid and the lights on, so try your best to make them happy. It’s also why companies put so much effort into customer service training. It’s always fascinated me that companies can invest so much in sophisticated customer service training and programs to ensure an outstanding “customer experience,” but then drop the ball on candidate communications. Candidates ARE customers.
My husband once used a vacation day to interview with a large auto insurance company. After a 45 minute drive to the company’s headquarters, he sat down with the same recruiter who had originally reviewed his resume and invited him to interview. She scanned his resume again (the exact same resume she felt qualified him for the role) and asked him, “Don’t you have xyz experience?”
“No,” he responded.
“Oh, you’re not qualified for this job,” she said as she cut off the interview.
You can bet that if this was the last car insurance company on earth, we’d gladly risk driving uninsured. They didn’t just hurt their employer brand, now they are hurting sales.
Writing a custom note thanking a candidate for his/her time and perhaps providing a brief explanation about the decision to part ways is the right thing to do. It allows an applicant to move on and invest energy in other opportunities. Not to mention a job change is a major life event. The candidate could be waiting to make vacation plans or start those needed home repairs because it depends on the timing of a new potential job. Don’t leave them hanging.
The message doesn’t have to be a novel, but something that’s obviously not a form letter. Sending a courteous note demonstrates that you honor and value the time he/she has invested in exploring a potential work partnership.
Plus you never know when this candidate might be perfect for something urgent that comes up. It’s a small world after all… and Glassdoor is only a URL away.