Whether you are a candidate, recruiter or employer, getting back to people should be as important as responding to an email from your boss. Here’s why:
Ghosting damages relationships
Since the term arose from the dating world, it stands to reason that the act will damage relationships. In the world of recruitment, it is vital that recruiters and companies build up talent pools.
The only way to do that is by maintaining relationships with candidates who have the required skill sets and industry experience. Good relationships are maintained by delivering a great service and a fabulous candidate experience.
Ghosting is bad conduct
Look, I get it. As recruiters, we can have in excess of 8 live vacancies to work on. If you have a shortlist of 6 for each one, this can mean a minimum of 48 candidates to manage at any given time. That’s on top on the 200 applications + you might have to screen for each new role as well as admin and everything else. It is a lot to do. We are all human and, sometimes, we drop the ball.
But intentionally ghosting your shortlist because they didn’t get the role this time? Frankly, that’s impolite and you’re not conducting yourself well by cutting corners. No-one likes to be the bearer of bad news but telling candidates that they didn’t get the job is as much a part of recruitment as telling them they did.
The same goes for candidates. If you have been shortlisted, it is not a good plan to ignore or hang up on your recruiter. Or the employer for that matter.
What should candidates expect?
If you do not receive a response at this stage, you haven’t been ghosted.
But if you absolutely expect a response, look for adverts that state they will give one. However, it will limit your options. Due to the high volume of applications recruiters get, they usually state in an advert that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Some will give a time frame, e.g. ‘If you haven’t heard from us within 2 weeks of the closing date then your application has been unsuccessful on this occasion’. But keep in mind that not all adverts will contain this information.
Equally, if candidates do not respond to a recruiter or employer at this stage, the recruiter or employer won’t take it as ghosting.
I’ve seen a number of instances on social media lately where candidates have been ghosted after they have had a ‘telephone interview’ (pre-screening) with a recruiter. The recruiter has said they will send out a job description. After the call, the job description has never materialised, and the recruiter never heard from again. The candidate understandably feels they have been misled and had their time wasted.
To avoid this from happening, there are a couple of things to check before assuming you have been ghosted. It might seem silly but look in your spam or junk folder. Also, check your voice messages.
If there is nothing there, follow up with a call. In some instances, emails can fail to send. I can’t count the number of times over the years that I’ve wondered why I haven’t heard back from a candidate, only to check my outbox and realise that it crashed leaving the email ‘pending’ or ‘queued’ in status for days.
Another simple thing to check is that your email address is correct. Most recruitment software auto-populates data fields. But it can pick out the wrong information. Alternatively, the recruiter might have simply misheard you in spelling it out.
So, a follow up call is the best way to ensure you haven’t been stumped by a simple tech failure.
Following up also demonstrates that you are organised and communicative
Again, be persistent. Recruiters spend a good percentage of their time on the phone. If you can’t get through, you can often find email addresses on an agency’s website. They will usually get back to you as soon as they have a free telephone line.
That said, if you receive a job description and have reservations, this is the stage at which to raise them. Do not just agree because you need a job. Once the recruiter has asked their interview questions and confirmed they’d like to put you forward, tell them that you will confirm to them by email once you have read the job description. They will be in a hurry to meet their deadline so confirm or not within the hour if you can. But they will much prefer to wait rather than have you fall off the face of the earth after they’ve already put your CV in front of their client. If you do vanish, they are not likely to perceive you as reliable if you need them in the future.
There are no reasons for an employer or a recruiter not to get back to you after an interview. It’s that simple. It might take some time before the hiring manager or a recruiter is provided with interview feedback, but this should at least be communicated to you.
However, in the current climate, some organisations are facing unprecedented challenges. With people working from home or in the office on rotation, it can bog the process down.
Generally, it is good form to send a follow up email. If you do not receive any feedback after 1 week, there is no issue in following up again. Maybe a call wouldn’t hurt either.
When you’ve exhausted all possibilities
If after 4-6 weeks you find yourself still chasing and have not received a response, it is pretty safe to assume that you have been ghosted. There’s no amount of tech failure that can account for that duration.
In that situation, I would say it is best to take note of the recruiter or employer for future reference. Then move on.
Ultimately, if nobody gets back to you after an interview, it does mean that there has been a failure somewhere along the line. Whether it is someone not doing their job properly, a gap in a process, or just bad policy, the company’s reputation will suffer in the long run. This is because for every candidate they hire, they will likely turn down 4 others. If 3 of those 4 decide to leave bad reviews because they have been ghosted, it won’t be long before future candidates turn down invitations to interview.
Equally, don’t ghost interviewers. If you can’t make it then ask to reschedule. If you are not sure about the role, you’ve most likely been unsure since you read the job description. So, go to the interview! It’s the only way to know if your reservations are justified. After all, you wouldn’t be invited to interview if those doing the hiring didn’t think you had the skills. You can then give your feedback and any remaining reservations to the recruiter or hiring manager afterwards.
It is my hope that, whether employed or currently seeking employment, as professionals we can all put ghosting behind us.