In This Article


How to Prevent Employee Ghosting in Your Hiring Process


It’s the busiest time of the year for your company, and you’re relying on having “all-hands on deck”  to get you through.

Unfortunately, several of your employees take the opposite route and just stop showing up. Meanwhile, that new hire you were so excited about won’t return your calls.

What is going on?

This frustrating phenomena is known as “employee ghosting” and it happens to businesses in all sectors and specialties, although it’s become especially common in service-sector companies.

In addition to tanking your productivity, employee ghosting can hurt your company’s bottom line and cause you to fall behind the competition.

In this post, we’ll discuss the common causes of employee ghosting and what your company can do to avoid it.

Let’s dive in.

What is Employee Ghosting?

“Employee ghosting” is what happens when an employee or an applicant stops communicating with a company or showing up to work (if they’ve already been hired) without giving any notice or reason.

In the process of employee ghosting, an employee or applicant may evade all of an employer’s attempts to reach or communicate with them.

‘Ghosting’ is a term that comes from the online dating world, and refers to someone just disappearing without communication or reason.

Why is Employee Ghosting on the Rise?

Ghosting a current or prospective employer is a very unprofessional move. Unfortunately for employers, the ghosting trend also seems to be on the rise. Anecdotal evidence from companies suggests that 20%-50% of job applicants and workers “ghost” either during the interview process or after being hired.

In a recent study conducted by Indeed, 83% of recruiters reported having been ghosted by candidates. What’s more, 69% of recruiters say they believe ghosting in the workplace is becoming increasingly common over the last few years.

Finally, in a survey by Clutch, 41% of workers said they didn’t have a problem with candidates ghosting employers. The same group, however, said employers ghosting candidates was unacceptable. The workers surveyed reported that the most common reasons for ghosting were accepting another job offer or deciding the role was not a good match.

As it turns out, though, there may be another significant cause of ghosting: a low level of unemployment and high level of available job openings.

According to the US Department of Labor (DOL), the current unemployment rate is 3.5%. In August 2019, the unemployment rate was 3.7%. In September 2019, it was 3.5%, which was one of the lowest rates since 1969.

What these low rates mean is that fewer people are competing for more available job openings. This creates a power shift that allows applicants and workers more leverage in the job market.

In short, if an employee doesn’t like a company’s culture or hiring practices, they can “ghost” that company and still expect to find another available position elsewhere.

In the wake of COVID-19, many employers also believe that extended unemployment benefits offered by the federal government have kept people home, rather than encouraging them to step back into the workforce.

While this is speculative in large part, there is consensus among labor force experts that the CARES Act, which has extended weekly unemployment payments through September, in some states, is affecting peoples’ willingness to accept job offers.

What Does Ghosting in the Workplace Look Like?

For recruiters, being “ghosted” can take many different forms. If a candidate doesn’t show up for an interview, refuses to return your follow-up voicemails, or simply doesn’t show up for the first day of work after being hired (which one Indeed survey reports that 22% of candidates have done), you’re probably being ghosted.

Ghosting could also involve a candidate consistently putting out low-quality work before disappearing from a job or position, or quitting a job without providing notice to the employer.

For candidates, ghosting may mean never hearing back from a company after an interview. For both recruiters and candidates, ghosting usually involves a sudden lack of communication, or an unexpected change of tone.

Why Do Job Applicants Ghost Employers?

While many applicants admit to ghosting employers due to a fear of confrontation or a belief that they’re not right for the position, applicants may also ghost employers because of the company’s hiring practices or recruitment processes.

Even if a candidate likes a company or is excited about the position, they may ghost an employer if the hiring or onboarding practices are inefficient, difficult, or confusing.

This is especially true for candidates who also have an offer from another company that offers a more streamlined onboarding process.

Here are a few of the most common factors that push applicants to ghost employers:

  • The candidate has experienced a slow recruitment process due to bottlenecks caused in part by slow background checks. Some applicants will choose to remove themselves from the running for a position if they feel that the hiring process is too long and complex.
  • In the case of employee ghosting after interviews, the candidate may be close to accepting an employment offer with another company.
  • The candidate is using an interview or offer of employment to obtain a counter-offer from their current employer.
  • The candidate found a better job opportunity, or a company that provides a more streamlined hiring process.
  • They are disappointed by the company’s original offering or benefits package
  • They can’t make up their mind about whether or not they want the job.

The reasons for ghosting vary from person to person. Still, understanding the most common reasons for employee ghosting can help you avoid the occurrence in your company.

6 Effective Ways to Prevent Employee Ghosting During Your Hiring Process

Wondering how to stop candidate ghosting in your hiring process? Follow these tips:

During the Candidate Interview Process

  1. Streamline the process. The easier and more applicant-friendly you can make your hiring and interview process, the less likely you are to experience ghosting. Here’s why: your dream applicant is probably also being courted by other companies, so it’s in your best interests to move quickly. Instead of waiting for critical mass to interview top candidates, bring the standouts in as quickly as possible. This will jump-start the interview process and help you move candidates through the pipeline as quickly as possible.
  2. Consider alternative forms of communication. Some demographics don’t check email often, and many people won’t pick up a call from an unknown number. With this in mind, use alternative forms of communication to get in touch with your top candidates. For example, instead of calling, consider sending text messages instead.
  3. Provide next steps. If you want to bring interviewees back to the table, you must master the art of using persuasive language. In your follow-up communications with applicants, personalize the communication by calling out specific traits you admire about them, and specifying the ways you believe they’d be valuable to your team. End the communication with a rock-solid next step, such as, “Let’s set a follow-up meeting for Thursday to discuss the job description and your possible start date.”

After Interviews Are Completed

  1. Provide an outstanding offer. Now that there are record-low unemployment rates, you have to nab top applicants by providing excellent offers. Instead of providing a low-ball offer upfront, extend your best offer right off the bat. To make employment with your company more attractive, consider adding a sign-on bonus, perks, and telecommuting options.
  2. Move quickly through background checks. Once you’ve decided to hire an employee, it’s your job to make sure everything runs smoothly and efficiently from there. One excellent way to do this is to speed up your background checks as much as possible. While you can handle your own background checks, you’ll get better, faster, more professional results when you work with iprospectcheck. Here at iprospectcheck, we provide fast, accurate, streamlined, and FCRA compliant background checks that guarantee a superior candidate experience.

After an Offer Has been Made

  1. Prioritize communication. Ghosting is less likely when an applicant respects and feels safe with your company. With that in mind, make sure you’re communicating consistently and clearly with the applicant. When you reply promptly to all candidates and stay open and transparent about the hiring process, candidates are less likely to ghost you.

iprospectcheck: Your Trusted Partner for Fast, Compliant, and Streamlined Pre-Employment Background Checks

Employee ghosting is inconvenient and unprofessional, but it’s a fact of life for modern-day employers.

While it’s impossible to guard against all employee ghosting, there are proactive steps you can take to reduce employee ghosting in your organization.

In addition to focusing on improving your company culture and extending attractive offers to candidates, streamlining your background checks is one of the best ways to improve your hiring process and provide a smooth, fast candidate experience.

Here at iprospectcheck, we provide smooth, efficient background checks to help improve your hiring process.

To request a free quote, contact us today: (888) 808-9997

Know Before You Hire

About the Author
Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers is a highly accomplished business executive with over 30 years of experience providing strategic vision and leadership to companies ranging from the fortune 500 to iprospectcheck, a company which he co-founded over a decade ago. Matthew is a valued consultant who is dedicated to helping companies create and implement efficient, cost effective and compliant employment screening programs. Matt has been a member of the Professional Background Screeners Association since 2009 . When not focused on iprospectcheck, he can be found spending time with his family, fly fishing, or occasionally running the wild rivers of the American west. A lifetime member of American Whitewater, Matt is passionate about protecting and restoring America’s whitewater rivers.