Mar 13, 2024 — Daniel Bowman

Dealing with Candidate Ghosting: Strategies for Recruiters

candidate ghosting

In the landscape of recruitment, candidate ghosting is a hurdle for HR professionals and recruiters alike. The term “ghosting” originated in the realm of personal relationships but extended to recruiters and employers.

It refers to the sudden end of communication by a prospective employee who previously seemed engaged in the application, interview, and hiring process. This abrupt end is not a new phenomenon. It can cast a shadow over your recruitment process, leaving recruiters and hiring managers potentially stuck in their efforts to acquire top talent.

The impact spreads far and wide, disrupting team dynamics, stalling project timelines, and potentially affecting the employer brand. Ghosting is more than a mere inconvenience. It poses a significant challenge to the efficiency and effectiveness of the recruitment function.

Understanding Candidate Ghosting

ghost on a computer

Delving Into the Disappearing Act

Despite the benefits and opportunities available in today’s job market, candidates are opting for the silent treatment. The reasons behind ghosting are varied and complex—ranging from different expectations regarding job postings to unsatisfactory candidate experiences.

Applying an applicant tracking system (ATS) will improve your recruiting process so you can see which candidates ghost you so you know who to follow up with.


Some common reasons candidates ghost you are that they are working with another recruiter. With so many job boards available, job seekers may have found what they wanted and no longer need you or lost interest for no apparent reason at all.

Candidates may also choose to respond because of an unrelated personal issue. Also, if we are being honest, some candidates will experience frustration if they feel they are not being taken care of. Sometimes, a recruiter or business ghosts the candidates and does not realize it either. These are but a few of the many reasons that candidates ghost their recruiters.

The Warning Signs

Recognizing the signs of ghosting behavior is the first step in limiting its effects. Common indicators include delayed responses to messages, missed interview slots, and unexplained absences from scheduled interactions.

One warning sign is when a candidate consistently provides vague or non-committal responses to questions about their availability. Another indicator may be a sudden decrease in the candidate’s responsiveness to emails or phone calls. Candidates who ask minimal questions about the job or company might lack genuine interest, forewarning potential ghosting.

A noticeable shift in the candidate’s tone or level of enthusiasm during the recruitment process can also be a red flag. Skipping or rescheduling interviews with short notice without a valid reason might signal a candidate’s intention to ghost as well.

Lastly, candidates who are elusive about providing references or completing follow-up tasks may be at a higher risk of disappearing without notice.


How to Handle a Candidate Who Has Ghosted

recruiter meeting

When a candidate goes silent, resist the urge to delete their contact from your list immediately. Instead, approach the situation with empathy and reach out to understand their perspective.

Finding out what went wrong can provide valuable insights for process improvement. Even if this does not regain the candidate, the experience will prepare you for what to expect if it were to happen again.

Strategies to Combat Candidate Ghosting

someone candidate ghosting

Strengthening the Interview Process

Elevate the interview experience by providing detailed expectations beforehand, offering logistical support, and ensuring a timely and respectful process. A well-structured hiring process with clear communication at every step can reassure the candidate that your company values their time.

Enhancing each stage of your recruitment process reduces the chances of candidate ghosting, saving valuable time otherwise spent refilling the same vacancy. A transparent and engaging recruitment strategy fosters trust, making candidates less likely to disappear without notice.

By setting clear expectations and maintaining open lines of communication, recruiters can build a rapport that discourages ghosting. Streamlined recruitment processes signal organizational efficiency, attracting serious candidates who are committed to the hiring process.

Enhancing Compensation and Benefits

Analyze your compensation packages and benefits to ensure they are competitive. Make adjustments to align them with industry standards and consider additional perks that could make your job offers more enticing to candidates.

Recruiters can highlight the flexibility and work-life balance offered through generous paid time off (PTO) policies, making positions more attractive to prospective job candidates. They emphasize comprehensive healthcare benefits and commitment to employee well-being and security. Discussions on these benefits or salary during the interview process can serve as key differentiators for companies.

Ultimately, showcasing these perks demonstrates an investment in employees’ health and happiness, appealing to job seekers prioritizing these values.

Building Stronger Candidate Relationships

Laying the groundwork for a positive and personal relationship can deter applicants from avoiding ghosting. Invest in a genuine connection by engaging in meaningful conversations, sharing insights about the company culture, and providing a transparent view of career growth opportunities. Encourage and answer candidates’ questions. Try to point them in the direction of their career goals as well.

Emphasizing Human Interaction

Amidst the digital noise of emails and automated responses, something like a personalized phone call can make a world of difference. Humanize your interaction with candidates and make them feel valued as individuals rather than just another application in the queue.

You could schedule informal coffee meetings to discuss roles in a relaxed environment, making candidates feel more comfortable and valued. Personalized follow-up emails that reference specific points from the candidate’s interview can demonstrate genuine interest and attention to detail. Hosting virtual open-house events where candidates can meet future team members helps establish a sense of belonging and community.

If in-person meetings are not an option, try video calls. The candidate will be able to put a face to the name. Such visual contact, while remote, will build stronger relationships.

Leveraging Communication Channels Effectively

Not all communication channels are created equal, and a misstep here can lead to misinterpretations that result in ghosting. Tailor your approach to each candidate’s preferred method of communication and ensure a consistent and respectful dialogue.

If you are ghosted during the interview or application process, use these to try to re-engage the job seeker.


Email can be a powerful tool to maintain engagement with candidates who prefer it over text. Ensure emails are personalized, addressing the candidate by name and referencing specific details from their application or interview.

Lastly, keep the tone professional yet warm, inviting them to ask questions or express concerns, which fosters open communication.


Text messages serve as an efficient and direct channel for a recruiter or hiring manager to maintain engagement with candidates who appreciate prompt communication.

By sending concise, personalized texts, recruiters or businesses can quickly convey updates, answer questions, or schedule interviews, ensuring the candidate feels informed and valued. This method can also help minimize misunderstandings and keep the recruitment process moving smoothly.

Phone Calls

Recruiters should prioritize timely, direct calls for candidates they are particularly interested in to convey the importance of their applications. These calls should be personalized and reflect a sincere interest in the candidate’s background and potential role within the company.

Finally, providing other opportunities for candidates to ask questions during these calls can significantly enhance their engagement and reduce the likelihood of ghosting.

Just Move On

While it’s crucial to understand the reasons behind a candidate’s sudden silence, time is of the essence in recruitment. Spending too much time trying to get ghost candidates engaged can detract from those genuinely interested. Recognizing when to cease efforts is not a failure but a strategic reallocation of resources for more success.

Every minute spent chasing a ghosted candidate is a minute lost that could have been invested in engaging with other promising candidates. This decision helps maintain the momentum of your recruitment process, ensuring each candidate receives the attention and respect they deserve during their job search.

Ultimately, letting go allows recruiters to refocus on their pipeline, nurturing relationships with those who show consistent enthusiasm for the jobs presented.

Improve Your Recruiting and Hiring Process

moving on in hiring

Tackling candidate ghosting requires a multifaceted and empathetic approach. Implementing these strategies will not only help reduce the instances of ghosting but also contribute to creating a positive candidate experience. In a time of fierce competition for top talent, taking proactive measures to understand and rectify the root causes of ghosting can be the differentiator that sets you apart as an employer of choice.

Continually refining your recruitment processes and emphasizing human connection will create a more engaged and committed talent pool. Remember, in the pursuit of exceptional talent, a recruiter’s role goes beyond transactional hiring—it’s about cultivating meaningful relationships that endure beyond the job offer.

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