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Webinar: Why Interview Ghosting is So Common and How to Prevent It

You need your open role filled fast, so it’s hard not to get excited when a qualified candidate sends in an application. You get your interview scheduled, prepare your questions, and the day of the big meeting… crickets. Your candidate is a no-show and ceases communication with you. 

This problem is so common that many employers have given it a name, using the term interview ghosting (or candidate ghosting) to describe the mysterious disappearance of a candidate during the hiring process. 

Why are so many candidates seemingly vanishing into thin air pre-interview? 

CareerPlug is on a mission to make hiring easier, so we hosted a webinar to get to the bottom of this scary phenomenon. In this discussion, we provide insight into why interview ghosting is happening and what employers can do to prevent it. 

Interview Ghosting: Full Webinar Video

Hosted by Natalie Morgan, CareerPlug Senior Director of People 

Panelist include: 

  • Jenny Leman, CareerPlug President
  • Jenna Ficken, HR Manager Berk Enterprises 
  • Andrew Robinson III, CareerPlug VP of Product & Engineering

The current state of the labor market in 2022

To better understand interview ghosting, it can be helpful to take a closer look at the current state of the labor market (as of 2022). This can provide context for hiring challenges that employers are facing. 

total employment graph

As the graph above shows, the total number of employed people is higher than it was pre-COVID by at least a few hundred thousand jobs. The unemployment rate has returned to an all time low, back at 3.5% which is where it was before the COVID spike. The last time it was that low was over 50 years ago! 

unemployment rate graph

Job openings have decreased but are still well above normal. There are still 33% more openings than there were in 2019, even though we are back to the same levels of employment. 

Small businesses are facing new competition for talent

There’s no doubt that employers have been feeling the pressure of the changes in the labor market. Webinar panelists Jenny Leman and Jenna Ficken agreed that some of the biggest challenges employers are facing are higher competition for quality talent and changing expectations from job seekers. 

One huge change has been the demand across the board for higher wages. Leman points out, “High inflation rates have impacted candidate and employee expectations. Wage expectations have affected all of us.” 

Ficken explains the impact this had on her business, “For our entry-level positions, or anything that’s labor intensive, there’s a huge competitive demand for wage rates. So, everyone has to keep up with all industries in the market, where before all companies were competitive with the same industry. Now there’s been a shift where we’re not just competing with other companies in the same industry, we’re competing with all industries.” 

higher demand for top talent quote

Leman shares a similar sentiment that she recently heard from a partner, “Within employment and labor market competition, we’re now not only competing with the entities within our industry but we’re competing with Uber and Lyft for drivers, Amazon for drivers, Walmart, Target, Home Depot. All of the online retailers are taking a sizable chunk of our once reliable labor force.” 

Along with higher wages, employees are also looking for remote work. One survey reported that 48% of workers in the U.S. said they will “definitely” seek a remote position for their next job. 

“I’m still getting candidates saying ‘is this a Zoom interview?’ but we are back in the office. So that has caused a little bit of a strain. We’ve had to evaluate whether we can offer any sort of hybrid options for office and key positions,” Ficken shares. 

Why do candidates ghost after interviews? 

As mentioned, the competition for top talent is tougher than it has been in the past. Leman explains how this ties into interview ghosting: “Candidates have higher expectations from an employer than ever before. Their bar for things like compensation, culture, and benefits is higher than it ever has been. And candidates typically have a ton of choices and they have multiple factors at play. People have the option to switch employers if a better offer comes around.”

Candidate expectations quote

Ficken also pointed toward communication gaps as a potential cause for interview ghosting. She says, “If there is too much time in between, a candidate may have had other interviews. They might get another opportunity that they’re ready to jump at.” 

Webinar host and CareerPlug Senior Director of People, Natalie Morgan, reminds us that candidates aren’t the only ones that are ghosting, and that it could be because of a precedent set by employers that so many people are skipping out on communication. 

Morgan says, “There’s precedent for employers to ghost candidates in a hiring process, which has really been the standard for years, if you think about people applying and never hearing back or going to interviews and not hearing back. I think it’s a two-way street. Be the employer that follows up with every candidate, whether you’re hiring them or not.”

Natalie Morgan quote on interview ghosting

Tips for reducing interview ghosting 

One of the biggest takeaways during the webinar came from Leman: “You have to remember that candidates are engaging with multiple prospective employers – several to many. If a candidate is truly seeking to secure new employment, the concept of the early bird with the right offering gets the worm.”

Jenny Leman quote on interview ghosting

With competition so high, employers need to focus on not only speed, but having the right offer for job seekers. With this in mind, let’s dig into some actionable steps you can take to prevent interview ghosting. 

Stand out from the competition 

First impressions matter – especially when candidates are fielding several open positions at once. It’s important to focus on building a great employer brand and sharing what makes your company stand out with applicants early on. 

From Morgan: “Stand out; make sure you’re leading with your best foot forward. Help people learn what it’s like to work with you. Look at how you can lead with that as early as possible to help people stay engaged with you throughout.” 

In your initial phone screen, Leman recommends setting expectations and letting candidates know why you are the best place to work: “I call it the EVP, the Employee Value Prop. Get that down to four to five sentences and be really clear about why you are the best employer for them in that moment. Sell the opportunity, sell your company culture.”

Focus on communication throughout 

In our Candidate Experience Report, we asked job seekers what improvements they’d like to see employers make in the hiring process. Check out their answers in the graph below. 

improvements employers should focus on during hiring

The top three answers focus on transparency and communication, so prioritizing these things in your hiring process can help you provide a great candidate experience. This means that less people will ghost you and more candidates will say yes to your job offers. 

Leman says that good communication and trust building starts well before the first interview, “Be clear and accurate in the job description. It shows respect out of the gate for candidates. If you’re willing to put compensation on the job description, it shows that you respect their time since it can help them determine if they’re a match from the get-go.” 

The trust building should continue throughout the rest of the hiring process. Ficken describes her typical steps for maintaining communication. “I reach out to an applicant and try to set up a time for that week. I call the candidate. I follow up with an email, and in a lot of cases I follow up with a text. As soon as I speak to that person in some form, I follow up with a calendar invite and make sure the candidate has all the details they need. I ask them to confirm that they receive it, and I send a friendly reminder to them 24 hours beforehand. I basically give them two reminders.” 

This process can help you prevent and anticipate interview ghosting. “I noticed that if I send someone a 24 hour notice and they respond to me, I’m pretty confident they are going to come the next day. If they don’t respond, it’s a pretty good indicator that they won’t show up the next day for the interview,” Ficken says.

Morgan and Leman both emphasized the importance of setting expectations early on about what the hiring process looks like. Morgan says, “Set timeline expectations and let people know as much about the interview process as possible, like the format and who they’ll be meeting with.” 

Leman gives an example of how to set clear expectations with job seekers: “Hey, this is the phone screen. I’m going to try and get you in for an in-person interview this week. Once we pass that point it will be no more than 24 or 48 hours before we are able to make an offer.” 

She explains that if you don’t set timeline expectations, candidates might assume you’ll take two weeks or longer to get back to them, making them more likely to move forward with other offers. 

Use an ATS to accelerate your hiring process

An applicant tracking system organizes your hiring process by putting all of your applications in one place and making it easy to track candidates from one stage of the process to the next. The most successful employers and hiring managers are those that use an ATS like CareerPlug to keep candidates moving forward and prevent them from slipping through the cracks.

Ficken says that using an ATS makes it easier to reach out to candidates as soon as they come in, “I’m always utilizing CareerPlug and I check it daily.”

CareerPlug’s VP of Product and Engineering, Andrew Robinson III, describes how an ATS can help you prevent interview ghosting by sharing CareerPlug’s Applicant to Interview Model: 

  1. Speed 
  2. Message 
  3. Medium
  4. Convenience 
  5. Frequency 

Robinson acknowledges that speed has been brought up several times as a way to reduce interview ghosting and recommends responding, “in minutes, not days.” He shares that the right message is also important, since this is “a conversation and a race.” 

Medium also matters. How are you reaching out to candidates? Robinson says, “I look at email like an SUV. It’s reliable and it will get there. But SMS (texting) is like that sports car. You want to be able to do both, because if you just do one exclusively, you’re going to miss out on great applicants.”

quote on text recruiting

When it comes to convenience, finding a way to avoid the cumbersome back and forth of interview scheduling makes the process easier for everyone. Lastly, frequency relates to follow up. Robinson says, “It’s incumbent upon us to figure out a way to send them notifications without being overbearing.” 

Secret weapons for preventing interview ghosting: automation and text recruiting

Making the right hires when you have other things going on in your business can be challenging. CareerPlug makes it easier through hiring automations, automatic interview scheduling, and text recruiting

​​The less engaged a candidate is in your hiring process, the more likely they are to ghost or become an interview no-show. Use text recruiting to engage candidates on their preferred method of communication. Consider this: text messages receive a response rate 8 times higher than email. CareerPlug’s in-app text messaging lets you reach candidates quickly and easily.

You can also make interview scheduling easier for everyone with CareerPlug’s new Autopilot feature. With Autopilot, you can allow candidates to easily self-schedule their interviews based on your availability and follow up with automated text and email interview reminders. 

CareerPlug Autopilot

There’s nothing scarier to employers than wasted time and resources, so it’s no wonder that interview ghosting has become such a hot topic. You can’t always control whether or not a candidate shows up to an interview, but there are some steps you can take to stand out from the competition and keep more applicants engaged throughout your hiring process. 

Prevent Interview Ghosting with CareerPlug

Our applicant tracking system makes it easy for busy employers to keep their candidates engaged so they don’t vanish into thin air. We ain’t afraid of no ghosts!

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