Maybe you’ve had a candidate who, without any warning or explanation, didn’t show up to an interview. Or one who accepted an offer of employment, only to stop returning phone calls and emails at the final hurdle.
Candidate ghosting might be annoying, but it’s not uncommon. In fact, it’s increased by up to 20% over the past year. Here, Garth Quinn, Recruitment Lead at Uniting, explains why it happens, and how you can minimise the chances of it happening to you.
Why do candidates ghost?
Mainly, candidates ghost for the same reason employers do: to avoid difficult or awkward conversations.
“Ghosting that happens through the recruitment process might be driven by the candidate accepting another offer or losing interest and they just don’t bother to tell you,” says Quinn. “Or it might be driven by the fact you’ve asked them to do a task – whether that be a police check, medical examination, qualifications or reference check – that causes them to bail out without consultation because perhaps they didn’t disclose something during the recruitment process.”
Candidates also drop out when they feel they’re being made to jump through too many hoops. Remember – the best candidates are probably already employed and are therefore have limited time availability. Making them attend too many interviews, or complete checks and assessments that are irrelevant, too numerous, time-consuming or not available digitally could cause them to disengage from your recruitment process.
Why is candidate ghosting bad for business?
While ghosting job seekers can be very bad for business, ghosting on behalf of the candidate can cause some serious commercial headaches for organisations too.
For one thing, it significantly increases the cost to hire, since all the resources that went into advertising the position, screening resumes and applications, and preparing for and conducting interviews will have been wasted. Potentially, the cost of this process can amount to between half and two-thirds of the employee’s annual salary.
More time spent filling a position also reflects poorly on your employer reputation, and it increases the likelihood that other suitable candidates have moved on and found work elsewhere. In fact, 57% of Australian HR managers have lost a qualified candidate to another opportunity because the recruitment process took too long, and the same figure is 67% in large organisations.
Are your recruitment processes to blame?
After the Global Financial Crisis, companies across Australia became very risk-averse, Quinn says, and set up recruitment systems and processes that put the onus on candidates to earn the position.
In those days of high unemployment, businesses could pick and choose applicants, but now the tables are turning. Top candidates expect to be won over good candidate experiences that reflect the culture and working environment of the company they seek employment with. And if they have to jump through too many hoops, they’re likely to cut and run.
Research conducted by Indeed shows that 40% of candidates will abandon applications with 20 screening questions, and the drop-out rate only increases with more.
“Candidates are ghosting because we’re asking them to do things that are above and beyond what’s needed, or what’s relevant to the role they’re going to,” Quinn says.
Companies that understand the importance of providing good candidate experience in the hiring process, however, are ahead in the game.
4 steps to a more candidate-centred approach
Putting your candidates at the centre of your recruitment process is the best way to reduce your chances of getting ghosted, and Quinn says it can be done in four simple ways.
1. Be communicative and responsive. Make sure you clearly define right from the start what candidates can expect from the recruitment process and what their obligations will be, so there aren’t any surprises.
2. Make it easy. From applicant tracking systems to compliance checks, modern recruitment technology and software solutions will streamline the hiring process for businesses and candidates. To see where yours could be improved, Quinn recommends recruiters try applying for one of their own positions and ask themselves: is it optimised across devices? Is it tedious and time-consuming, too complicated or overly demanding?
“The police check, the medical, or whatever task you’re asking people to do as part of the application process should be easy for them to complete,” Quinn says.
3. Encourage candidates to speak up. Try to foster a relationship or environment where candidates can be up-front about other offers or changes of heart without jeopardising the future relationship. That way, even if it doesn’t work out this time, they’ll still see you as a viable option down the track.
“You want to give candidates an experience where they say, ‘right, I’ve said no, or they’ve said no to me on this occasion, but I’m still interested in working with them in the future’,” Quinn advises.
4. Nail the art of the offer. Getting the offer out quickly is critical for locking in top talent, but so is the way you sell it. Find out what candidates are looking for in their next role – it could be career prospects, training, and professional development, or lifestyle factors – and refer to these throughout the recruitment process to keep them engaged.
“As an example, a recruiter could say, ‘Hey you mentioned you wanted more training. There’s a course happening internally already, do you want me to get you into that straight away?’,” Quinn says.
As Quinn explains, it’s not just the money that will seal the deal with top talent. “It’s a combination of the organisation’s values, the role, and the opportunity, so make sure you reinforce the more human elements when communicating with job seekers.”
That’s what it all comes down to in the end: treat candidates like people, not commodities, and you’ll say goodbye to ghosting – on both sides of the recruitment experience.