Why is ghosting a problem among new hires?

'The talent pool has never been more selective about what they want from an employer'

Why is ghosting a problem among new hires?

While employers continue dealing with labour shortages, one stubbornly persistent practice remains particularly frightening for hiring managers. Ghosting happens when a candidate gets approved to join an organization after an interview but fails to show up on the day when that person should be joining.

Its incidence is surprisingly high, found a recent survey of small businesses. More than one-third (36 per cent) of small employers say they’ve hired people who never showed up to work or stopped coming to work shortly after they started.

Another third (37 per cent) have had job candidates who stopped responding during the application or interview process in the past year, according to a survey of 3,264 respondents in November by the Canadian Federation of Business (CFIB).

“Employers are already having an incredibly hard time filling certain positions. Ghosting is not only a frustrating waste of their time, it’s a big drain on their already limited resources,” says Dan Kelly, president at the CFIB.

On the other hand, a failure to communicate has long been a challenge for many jobseekers, and that trend continues. “We’re in the midst of a real role reversal, and the talent pool has never been more selective and vocal about what they want from an employer,” says Daniel Chait, CEO and co-founder of software maker Greenhouse.

Over 70 per cent of job seekers say they want feedback on an interview, found the company’s survey of more than 1,500 global employees and jobseekers released in February. But more than 75 per cent of job seekers have been ghosted after an interview, never hearing from a company again.

Gone forever

The problem exists for incumbents too, as many employees who leave, fail to show up for exit interviews. Leaders have revealed that many employees are not showing up for their exit interviews — and they’re taking their work equipment too.

“Ghosted exit interviews are a big missed opportunity to gain valuable feedback on the employee experience, and stolen laptops and smartphones can lead to major consequences if confidential data ends up in the wrong hands,” says Brian Westfall, principal HR analyst at Capterra.

In a survey of 219 leaders by online marketplace vendor Capterra, 86 per cent says at least one employee ghosted them on their exit interview, with 70 per cent saying multiple employees didn’t show up.

“These results were consistent, regardless of where the employee worked (on-site, hybrid, or remote) or the size of the company — indicating this problem isn’t unique to one type of organization,” the report says.

To encourage participation in exit interviews, the report urged organizations to use online survey tools instead of in-person interviews, while stressing that feedback would be anonymous.

The problem is happening in all industries, according to a report from Brazen and Talent Board that found candidate ghosting (37 per cent) is now the top challenge for talent acquisition teams.

“It’s across all job types,” says Kevin Grossman, president of Talent Board. “Professional candidates, especially those that are in the running for multiple jobs, with multiple offers, may verbally accept, and then never respond again, because they took another job somewhere else.”

More jobs than workers

That number of jobs available to applicants is one of the factors powering this trend, he says. “For every candidate, there are two or three jobs available. So there’s a lot of jobs in the market, across industries.”

Compared to two years ago, more than four in 10 respondents (43 per cent) to a previous survey said it’s more common for job candidates to cut off communication.

“There is a higher level of ghosting of these individuals that are [thinking] ‘I can get paid higher’.”

Pay them

In order to prevent this, what about compensating candidates for their time? “We just need to reset, and really think about people as people and as valuable assets to companies, and they need to be treated like that from the start,” says Allison Venditti, founder of Moms at Work and My Parental Leave.

“It’s really only going to stop once the employee side says, ‘Enough… I’m not going in for three interviews — I have a job and a family and a life.”

In recognition of the time and effort put into taking interviews, employers such as FoodShare are paying for people’s time.

When a job candidate comes for an interview at the food justice organization, they’re given $75. If they go for a second interview, they’ll receive another $75, and if they’re asked to prepare any kind of presentation, they’ll be compensated at the hourly wage of the position they’re applying for.

It’s about respecting people for their time and labour in preparing for and undergoing an interview, according to Paul Taylor, executive director at FoodShare.

“Things like paying for transit, paying for childcare, the cost associated with taking a day off, the time spent reviewing, researching, preparing for presentations — countless amount of hours go into that that we feel employers have been allowed to get off the hook by not having to compensate prospective candidates for.”

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