4 Steps to Stop Candidate Ghosting in the Interview Process

candidate ghosting

Are you tired of having a potential job candidate ghosting you at the interview?  Or, even worse, accept a job offer and not even show up on their first day? You’re not alone. Job seekers are ghosting employers at an alarming rate.

“Candidate Ghosting” means a job applicant just didn’t show up, with no communication or reason. It’s like they never existed. And this is happening more and more.

So, what does that mean for you?  Roughly 3 out of every 10 interviews you set up will go NOWHERE.  Depending on your industry, your numbers may be significantly higher. It’s easy to feel like interviewing is a complete waste of time when this is happening.

You’re probably hearing it’s a “job seeker’s market.” And job seekers are hearing that too. They know there are lots of opportunities out there right now. They don’t have to worry about burning a bridge because there are so many bridges out there.

The current job market is creating numerous problems. But the good news is you can CHANGE those stats in your favor. We’ve done it.

We had a client approach us at Core Matters for help with 90% of job candidates ghosting them for interviews.  Ninety percent! That represented hours and hours of wasted time and wasted effort. We showed them how to turn the table on that stat by changing their approach. The next time we talked, they told us now 90% of their job candidates show up for interviews! Their candidate ghosting rate is now much more manageable.

It can be done, and you can do it too!

Let’s take a closer look at the real issues going on and how your company can resolve them.

Ghosting Behavior

If you didn’t know what “ghosting” was before, you do now. The term was first used in the online dating scene. People connected online, planned to meet in person, and then found themselves sitting all alone in a coffee shop or bar. Their date didn’t show up – they “no-showed” them – without any excuses, reasons, or any further contact.

Now this behavior happens with a job candidate ghosting employers. In both romance and business, it starts with some initial digital contact, via email, phone, or even text. Plans are made to get together face-to-face. Then… nothing.

Why Does Candidate Ghosting Happen?

The answer is surprisingly simple.

Neither side is emotionally invested enough to care about the other.

A couple of phone screening questions or a few text messages. Five maybe six minutes… that’s not enough time to be invested in a future meeting.

The job seeker doesn’t feel much sense of commitment to the employer, or even care about what it means to stand you up. It doesn’t feel real. It’s just some digital communication with someone they don’t know or care about. It’s easy to ghost you at the interview.

But imagine if your connection was a bit deeper with the job candidate. They may see you as a real person, not just an impersonal digital contact.

Pretend you’re looking for a job. Put yourself in the shoes of a job seeker. You apply for a job, maybe get an automated email, and a response with a time for the interview. Or even better, a short phone call.

How likely would you be to show up if sparks didn’t fly during the interaction?

Remember, you already applied to ten other jobs. Employers are fighting over you. You have options. Maybe one of those employers is courting you – they express genuine interest. Now, maybe you think you’d be more polite and at least call and cancel the interview. But that takes effort for someone you barely know…it’s easier just to ghost them. 

What if you figured out that solving your candidate ghosting issues meant getting to know the candidate and expressing genuine interest in them? What if you made them feel wanted during the initial interaction? You’ll quickly discover that doing a little more work up front means you’ll get better results. 

Imagine sending them some teasers that highlight how cool your company is.  Maybe it’s an email with a link to an article that highlights your last company event, or maybe it’s a link to an employee testimonial video.

What you’re doing is keeping the candidate warm. You demonstrate excitement about having them join your team.

But first…


WIIFM… ever heard of it?

In marketing we use it a lot. It stands for What’s In It For Me. From a marketing perspective, the “me” is your prospective customer or employee.

WIIFM is a term to remind companies that they need to think like their customers. Put yourself in their shoes and view your company’s proposition through their eyes. Is it enticing? Would you buy it?

You likely already use this strategy on the sales side of your business. But how much do you focus on doing this for job applicants? In today’s job market, companies need to put just as much effort and creativity into attracting talent as they do in drawing the attention and interest of their customers.

In recruiting, you’re marketing and selling. Your job ads are marketing, and your interview is the sales process.

So, what’s in it for them?

Don’t just say “a job,” or some fluffy stuff that every other employer out there is saying. What’s in it for them when they join your team?

Listen to Understand and Hear What’s NOT Being Said

Your first exposure to a job applicant is likely when you read their resume or job application. Make sure you carefully read what they submitted and look for what it might tell you about the applicant. Don’t put too much weight into their application especially if you aren’t hiring a writer or marketing person.

Slow down and take your time with the ones you REALLY want to know. You don’t need to interview everyone. Be selective. Take your time. Focus on quality over quantity and you’ll find good people to hire.

For the applicants that you like, give them a phone call.  Make sure they know how interested you are in hiring them rather than someone

Really listen. Listen to find out if they have real interest in your company or not. Too many applicants these days are blasting their application to anyone who will receive it. Do they even remember applying with you? If not, don’t get frustrated, walk them through the process.

Don’t waste valuable time chasing applicants who aren’t engaged. But you need to be engaging. You can’t run them through the same boring screening call that they’ve done dozens of times.

If You Want Better Applicants, Attract Better Applicants

Let’s go back to the dating scene for a moment and imagine you were setting up a new profile.  Maybe you do some research to see what the competition looks like or even spend some time learning how to create an effective profile. You’ll select great photos, talk about what you do for fun and give someone a chance to really learn about you.  After all, that profile is your one and only “first impression” to a potential match and you want to be successful in finding a match. It’s the same with recruiting new employees. 

Unlike in dating where you only have one online profile, with recruiting, your online profile is everywhere. It’s your website, social media, job ads, and so much more.

You must stand out to make a great first impression. So, what does your job ad look like? Is it bland and boring? The old version that you updated last decade? Or, even worse, does it look like everyone else’s?

Two-thirds of job seekers say the #1 thing missing from a job ad is information about their potential boss. They want to know more about who than what when applying for a job. Write your job ads with personality. Tell them, and show them that you truly are different.

And when you’re ready for the interview…

Don’t make it a two-minute call just to schedule a time for an in-person interview.  Get to know the candidate as a person. Find out what they want and how you can (or can’t) offer it.

When employers seem impersonal, it’s easy for a job candidate to ghost them. But it’s way harder to ghost someone that you’ve already started to get to know and share common interests with – even if it’s over a job. 

We can’t guarantee that job candidates will never ghost you again. But you can win the war on candidate ghosting by writing compelling job ads, getting more choosey in how you select candidates, and getting to know them more before you even meet with them in person.

The best place to start is by implementing a proven recruiting system so you don’t need to wing it anymore. You don’t have the luxury of waiting for the right person to come along or the market to swing in your favor. You need results now and that’s why companies running the Core Fit Hiring System get better quality applicants within ten days of starting the process.

When you take your time to attract the right people and put them through a consistent process, you’ll improve both the quality and quantity of new applications you receive each day, and candidate ghosting will no longer be an issue.