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The Best Time To Ghost Job Candidates
I admit this post title is clickbaity. You might be thinking, when would it ever be acceptable to ghost a candidate? I agree with you! However, as someone before me once put it so eloquently, “shit happens.” Of course, ghosting should never happen, but it does. And since it happens, it’s worth discussing when it happens because the timing can have a small or big impact on job candidates. Before I get to the best time, I want to talk about the worst time to ghost a job candidate.
Without a doubt, the worst possible time for a recruiter to ghost a job candidate is after the final interview. Why? This is the exact time when the candidate needs the recruiter the most! Deciding whether to accept a job offer is a major decision. There are few decisions in life that simultaneously impact your physical, mental, and emotional health. And since job offers usually include money, this decision impacts your life outside of work and the costs associated with that life. Candidates can make better decisions if they are able to connect and speak with the recruiter. Recruiters have a wealth of knowledge they can share about the company and if they don’t have an answer to something, they can usually connect you with someone who will. Even if the company does not want to extend an offer, this is not the time for the recruiter to go silent. The job candidate has likely spent hours interviewing for the job and hours waiting on next steps and THE decision (an offer or a rejection). The candidate deserves timely responses to emails and phone calls and they deserve to know if they are getting an offer or not.
I understand companies and recruiters have to keep second and third-choice candidates “warm” in case their first choice doesn’t accept the offer, but at least be transparent and truthful. As a job candidate, I’d rather hear the truth instead of silence. Being ghosted at this stage feels like standing alone at the altar on your wedding day. You’ve come so far. You’re ready to make a life-changing decision. You might still have lots of questions. You’re anxious, stressed out, and vulnerable. And at the peak of the interview process, you hear…crickets.
How does this happen? And who is to blame? The company is to blame, not the recruiter. Companies often focus way too much on the happy path of hiring and how they will treat the one candidate they want to hire. However, doing so neglects the other 99% of job candidates.
When should candidates expect to hear back from recruiters?
What message will be communicated to candidates who are not the first choice?
How can a recruiter show empathy towards a candidate after the final interview?
How can a company demonstrate transparency and honesty to job candidates during the interview process?
These are questions that talent teams should answer if they want to treat all job candidates fairly. The truth is even a rejected job candidate can impact the company’s recruiting efforts in the future. As a Hiring Manager or Talent Coordinator, I ask you this. Would you rather have a rejected job candidate tell their network, “I didn’t get the job, but the interview process was fair and transparent.” or “I didn’t get the job, and by the way, the interview process was confusing, my questions went unanswered, AND the recruiter ghosted me!”? The former encourages people to apply for jobs at the company, while the latter discourages people from applying.
So when is the best time for a recruiter to ghost a job candidate? Obviously, in the beginning, when less time has been spent on the interview process by both the company and the candidate. Also, at this stage, the candidate likely doesn’t have their hopes up about a potential offer from the company. I will say this again. Ghosting shouldn’t happen at all if a company and its Talent team are recruiting and hiring the right way. However, as a job candidate, I can wholeheartedly say I’d rather have a recruiter go silent closer to the starting line than the finish line. Job searching and interviewing are physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. It can be a rollercoaster of emotions for candidates. It’s not uncommon for companies to have three or more steps in their interview process, which require hours of time from candidates. As a candidate, it can be devastating to invest so much time and energy into a company’s interview process only to be treated poorly in the end.
It doesn’t have to be like this. Companies can treat all job candidates with respect and fairness. If you’re involved in the hiring process at your company, think about how you’re treating the other 99% of candidates. After all, they will influence your next batch of job candidates more than your new hires.
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