From cutting off communication early in the vetting process to skipping interviews without warning to failing to show up on Day One, candidate ghosting has become increasingly problematic, with about 30% of job seekers in Canada ghosting employers at the interview stage.

A ghostly trend

43% of employers in Canada say they’ve been ghosted in the past 2 years.

While ghosting may seem like a minor inconvenience, when candidates end communication, don’t show up for interviews, or, even, skip out on their first day of work, it could signal a bigger issue within your organization. For example, it may indicate candidates don’t feel connected to your team, your organization, or the role. Rather than communicating that they aren’t interested in the opportunity, they “ghost” instead.

Beyond that, though, ghosting can have a profound impact on efficiency at all levels of the recruiting and hiring process. With around a  third of candidates skipping out on interviews, your team may be wasting a significant amount of time vetting uninterested candidates and, later, waiting for them to materialize for interviews.

No-shows also affect productivity. The simple act of pausing work can cause sharp declines in efficiency and productivity. On average, it takes about 25 minutes to return to a previous task after being disrupted. A fruitful interview can compensate for this loss in productivity, but time spent waiting for a no-show is merely time wasted.

Ghosting and the pandemic

Ghosting isn’t a new trend — the phenomenon existed before the pandemic, but at a smaller scale. According to a 2019 Indeed survey conducted in the US, job seekers and employers have been fuelling the trend. With companies increasingly being ghosted in the last two years, employers are, likely, being ghosted more now than ever.

To combat ghosting, your team should implement measures to curb no-shows at every phase of the recruitment and hiring process.That starts with improved communications between hiring teams and candidates — specifically, personalized touches paired with automated messaging. Keep in mind that, without a “face” behind your organization, candidates may be more inclined to ghost. By introducing a human touch to the process — e.g., a quick Zoom check-in, phone call, or personalized email — candidates may be more likely (at the very least) to contact your team if they decide to drop out of the hiring process.

Check your communication style

It’s also important to consider how you’re communicating with, and confirming, candidates. Fifty-seven percent of Canadians say they never answer phone calls from numbers they don’t recognize, and 18% don’t reply to texts from people they don’t know. Even email is falling out of favor: 85% of Gen Z see email as an essential form of communication, compared to 89% of millennials and 92% of Gen X.

Depending on previous candidate engagement, integrating text messaging may be a simple way to curb some ghosting. With 90% of people opening texts within three minutes — and texting having five times the open rate and eight times the response rate of email — this communication shift should increase the odds that candidates will read critical messages.

Although texting is fast becoming a go-to communications tool among HR professionals, be sure to acquaint yourself with texting etiquette before unleashing your staff’s thumbs. SHRM offers these three guidelines:

1. Get permission from recipients first – i.e., don’t send unsolicited text messages to prospective candidates.

2. Keep messages short. Texting is best used for automated notifications, sending logistics information – e.g., interview times / locations – or asking fast follow-up questions. Use emails or phone calls for lengthier communications.

3. Keep it professional. Resist the temptation to include emojis or clever abbreviations in texts to job seekers. Remember: your team’s texts and other communications should consistently uphold the brand.

Be flexible

Another potential ghosting solution: offer candidates flexible scheduling, including evenings and weekend time slots. By striving to accommodate candidates’ schedules, job seekers may be more likely to move ahead in the process, even if their current weekday schedules don’t allow for in-person interviews.

Given the increase in remote work and the desire for flexibility in time and location, members of your HR team may be open to shifting their schedules to conduct these interviews. For example, a team member might prefer to start work later (one or two days a week) in exchange for conducting after-hours candidate check-ins.

Virtual interviews are also a good option for busting some ghosts, even if your team has already returned to the office. Sixty-six percent of job seekers rate their experience of having a virtual interview favourably.

Ultimately, it’s about putting yourself in a candidate’s shoes. What would you want from a recruiter and hiring manager right now? What would make a business stand out from the competition, and make you want to move toward an offer? Those engagement tactics are good next steps to help curb ghosting.