Three-minute explainer on… ghosting

The practices of both job candidates not turning up to interviews and employers not getting back to candidates even after meeting them are becoming worryingly common

Three-minute explainer

The recruitment landscape is tough right now. Against the duel headwinds of macroeconomics and geopolitics, companies are being forced to cut costs and make existing budgets stretch further than ever. Employees, struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, are keeping their eyes open for more lucrative or stable positions. 

This makes for a complicated job market, in which both candidates and hiring managers are trying to get the best possible deal at a time of extreme pressure. Sadly, such circumstances often give rise to poor behaviour. 

What is ghosting?

A term initially used within the context of online dating, ghosting refers to the act of abruptly cutting off all communication with someone without any prior warning.

Ghosting can happen at any stage of the hiring process. A candidate may fail to turn up to an interview, choose not to reply to a follow-up email, or even not show up to the first day of a new job having agreed to start it. 

A recent study by the recruitment platform Indeed found that a staggering 86% of UK jobseekers in the past year have failed to attend an interview without first notifying the hiring organisation. And it works the other way around, too. According to a report by software company Greenhouse over two-thirds (67%) of UK employers are guilty of doing something similar to their applicants.

Should you be worried about ghosting?

In a word, yes. Whether you are a job candidate or a hiring manager, ghosting is not a good look. It is disrespectful and unprofessional.

A candidate who messes an organisation around, particularly within small industries, can signpost themselves as trouble. An organisation which serially treats its candidates badly should expect to soon be maligned online. 

Ghosting means gambling with your reputation. If you want to avoid being thought of as unreliable or unkind, taking time to reply to people is a much safer bet.