The subject of candidate ghosting has been in the news a lot recently. Job seekers aren’t showing up to interviews or even calling to cancel. They’re just vanishing. Some new hires are even skipping their first days at work — with no notice at all.
On first glance, a simple explanation may appear: Companies have been treating job seekers badly for years; now, it’s the candidates’ turn.
However, I think there may be more to the rising trend of ghosting than this.
Today, the job search is largely a one-way street, by which I mean candidates must cater to hiring managers if they want to land a gig. Job seekers are expected to take IQ tests. They’re expected to take personality assessments. They’re asked to disclose their full salary histories. Employers make candidates open their phone books for references. Job seekers are made to cancel meetings and sneak out of work to attend last-minute interviews at the hiring manager’s behest.
Now, think of the process from the other side — the candidate’s perspective. From the very beginning, it’s all about what the employer needs. A company will rarely share information about itself in a job ad, but it will certainly take all the space it needs to rattle off its list of demands for a candidate. The hiring manager will move the process along as quickly or as slowly as they please. Candidates rarely get a tour of the office where they’ll work; they rarely get the chance to meet with their potential team members at all before they start.
In short, the candidate is expected to make a decision about a job offer with far less information than the company has to make its decision about the candidate. In addition, the job seeker is expected to accept or reject a job offer in just a few days, sometimes while lacking vital information. For example, I’ve seen companies pressure candidates to make decisions about job offers before salaries have even been disclosed!
I believe this asymmetry in the hiring process plays a big role in why job seekers are ghosting companies. Candidates have to make decisions more quickly than they are comfortable with, and often with less information than they’d like. Getting an interview at all requires a huge effort, and the job seeker doesn’t want to walk away from what could be a perfectly good offer, so they accept.
After accepting the interview invite or job offer, the candidate has a little more time to learn about the company. They can visit the new city where they might move. They can research the people they might be working with. After all this, they may realize that the job is not right for them after all.
In the past, the candidate may have still taken the job while simultaneously looking for a different role elsewhere. However, job offers were much harder to come by back then. Today, there are plenty of other jobs available. So, if the candidate decides the job isn’t right, they’ll just find another.
But candidates don’t always ghost in these situations. No, they only ghost those employers that didn’t respect them enough to make the hiring process a two-way street. So, if your company is dealing with ghosting, it may be time to ask yourself if your own hiring process is part of the problem.
A version of this article originally appeared on Copeland Coaching.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at Copeland Coaching.