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Why “ghosting” happens in hiring

Here are 3 smart ways to avoid it 

ghosting ghosted ghost hiring hire process interview candidate manager recruit recruiter

Everything I have learned about the recruiting and hiring industry over the last 20-ish years or so can be summed up in one statement. 

“He’s Just Not That Into You” 

Yup, I just referenced a late 2000s rom com, and you’re probably thinking I’m nuts right now. 

If you haven’t seen the film yet, I highly recommend giving it a watch, regardless of its less-than-stellar reviews. 

In essence, the key takeaway from the film (for me), was as follows: 

If Party A truly has a genuine interest and is motivated to cultivate a relationship with Party B, they will move mountains to make that happen. If either party doesn’t want to prioritize that progress, they will express that via their behaviour; or lack thereof. 

Hence the reference to this article. 

Ghosting sucks. 

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about re “ghosting”, the Oxford Languages team defines it as “the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication”. 

We’ve all been there. 

We’ve all been ghosted. 

We know it’s rude, it’s unprofessional, and it just plain sucks for the other party – but realistically, we all know we’ve been the ghost too. 

What we don’t necessarily want to admit is “WHY have we done it?”, and “WHY do others do it to us?”, especially in the context of hiring. 

If you’re in the position of being a hiring authority, or you’re in the position of being courted for a new job by some new company or recruiter, etc., your WHYs are wildly different, and that’s OK. 

Here are the hard truths… 

 Team Hiring Authority: 

Your potential hires are ghosting you during your hiring process because they are just not that into you, and it’s just easier to ignore you and not respond to your messages than it is to tell you that… 

  • Your hiring process has far too many steps in it, and it takes you far too long to provide me with feedback from our previous conversation(s).
  • You’re offering a compensation package for this role that is either unknown to me at this point, or you’re offering one far below my expectations, and that’s a hard no for me.
  • You, as a hiring manager, have either given me the impression that you’re not someone that I want to work for, or you’ve elicited literally no emotional response from me via our previous conversation(s) that would make me think that you are someone that would inspire, support, and prioritize my growth as an individual.
  • Your company and the opportunity you’re interviewing me for sounds super generic and no different than the other 10 companies and opportunities I’m currently interviewing with/for.
  • I’m just not that into you. 

However, while I understand there are a lot of reasons why talent may want to excuse themselves from the running for a job, candidates should remember that leaving the process on a professional note sets them up for other potential opportunities down the road.  

If you’re no longer interested in a job, don’t ghost. Keep in mind that people talk, and you never want to slam the opportunity door shut just because you don’t want to have a difficult conversation. 

Now, what about if a hiring manager ghosts you? 

Team Job Candidate: 

 Your potential new manager / recruiter is ghosting you during the hiring process because they are just not that into you, and it’s just easier to ignore you and not respond to your messages than it is to tell you that… 

  • Our hiring process is a disaster, and I have no confidence and/or authority to make this hiring decision on my own without covering my ass and getting many more people unnecessarily involved, mainly so I don’t have to take the blame if I end up having to fire you in the end.
  • Our budget for this role is far below what you’re asking for, and frankly I don’t think you’re worth the money that you’re asking for; and hiring you at what you’re asking for is going to cause me so many headaches because then I’ll have to adjust the salaries of 5 other people on my team, and I just don’t want to deal with that stress.
  • You, as a potential hire, didn’t “WOW” me during our interview(s), and that may be because I don’t have an objective means of evaluating your candidacy, but it’s likely more about my (subjective) suspicion that I can hire 5 other people just as qualified as you for less money and I can get away with putting you “on the back burner”. 
  • You didn’t stand out to me as someone that I should prioritize through our hiring process, but you also didn’t stand out as someone that completely wasted my time. Since I’m interviewing many other folks like you, I’ve actually forgotten that you existed, and I’m ignoring you mainly to save face for my ego instead of admitting I forgot about you.
  • I’m just not that into you. 

 Yup, hard truths are hard to swallow because they suck, but they are truths, so I felt it important to get them out there so we can start solving some problems here.  

 Even though it’s hard to provide feedback for every candidate and there are always moving parts to consider, ghosting doesn’t solve anything. So recruiters/hiring managers: your disappearing act may save you time in the short run but will seriously hurt your reputation for candidate experience in the long run. Not worth it! 

 Side note: 

If you’re on Team Job Candidate, thanks for sticking with this blog and reading up until this point. Truthfully, I’m learning to write blog articles for the purpose of business development, so you’re not my target audience moving forward and you’re welcome to bounce out to another page on our site.  I’d recommend this one because everything I share throughout the remainder of this article is designed to speak directly to hiring authorities. 

How to solve the ghosting challenge: 

 If you’re being ghosted by potential hires in your hiring process, here are three things you need to consider, and can implement easily (perhaps with a little help). 

1. Fix your hiring process and make it smarter, simpler and more scalable. 

There is no excuse to justify having a 7-step interview process, unless you’re literally hiring for a lifetime appointment, Supreme Court Justice type of role. If you’re reading this article, I guarantee you’re not.   

Design, implement and execute a much better hiring process that allows you to go from “Hey, here’s a potential hire” to “Hey, we’ve made a decision about this potential hire” within 10 days from start to end. 

 10 days. 

 Not 10 days between steps. 

 10 total days. 

Potential hires and soft cheese have a lot in common: they both become very unreliable once they’ve been sitting for 10 days. 

 The longer you ignore them, the more likely they become to ghost you – but here’s a resource that can help you speed things up.   

2. Share the salary range you have budgeted for your job openings early and often. 

I understand this is a provocative topic for some, but the sooner you share with your potential hires what’s at the end of the rainbow in your hiring process, the sooner they will select in/out of your hiring process – and that’s good news for you. 

I get that sharing compensation ranges in job postings also means that you should be sharing your compensation philosophy internally first, but that’s going to become a legal requirement wherever you are living/reading this from shortly anyhow. My advice? Just get in front of it and do it sooner rather than later.  

The more you hold your cards to your chest (compensation-wise), the more likely your potential hire ghosts you and chooses to join one of your talent rivals that was more appealing to them (even if you could have paid them more than the offer they just accepted). 

Still not convinced you should share your range? Here’s a resource that might convince you. 

 3. Go into your potential hire interviews with an objective plan, and stop “winging it”. 

This one drives me nuts the most. 

If you were to ask 10 random hiring authorities if they are great at interviewing potential hires (I have), 90% of them would say “Yes!”. 

The actual percentage of hiring authorities that are great at interviewing, and have a track record of making hiring decisions based on objective facts (as opposed to subjective nonsense) is closer to 20%. 

Considering the time, money and resources your organization is committing to interviewing and hiring folks, let alone the massive cost of poor hiring decisions, now is the time to look at your hiring authority’s interview competence.  

Finally, lose the ineffective interview questions (like these) and invest in some hiring manager interview training. It’s going to save you a pile of time and money in the end.  

I need to close this article out.  

I’m already at 1600 words, and I’m pretty sure that the only folks still reading this either love the movie reference at the beginning, or actually want to admit (and fix) that potential hires ghosting us during the hiring process is our fault, not theirs. 

Ready for a final hard truth? If you’re being ghosted during the hiring process, your candidates just aren’t that into you – and there’s probably some solid reasons why. Luckily, the above three tips should give you a roadmap of what to address first. 

If you need a hand on that journey, we’re happy to help. 



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