Ghosting – The Case of the No Show

Ghosting is the bad practice of making an appointment and then failing to keep it with zero communication. People engaging in ghosting will often go so far as to stop responding to communication entirely in the hopes that the other party will just give up and go away. The term comes from dating, but the description fits equally well in the career world. Candidates who fail to make interviews and newly hired employees who don’t show up to work the first day are both types of Ghosting. Existing employees quitting by simply not showing up and ignoring calls is also considered an act of ghosting.

Ghosting wastes an employers’ time and money, and as such is a quick way to get blacklisted, yet the phenomenon has been on the rise lately across many career fields. In fact, USA Today states that businesses commonly report anywhere between 20% – 50% of their scheduled applicants won’t show to the interview.

The reasons behind this unfortunate trend are complex and multi-faceted.

The job market currently values candidates at a premium. The employment rate is currently 4%, the highest it’s been in several months, but still a far cry from the nearly 10% it was in 2011. It’s still very much an employee’s market. In general, candidates are not as desparate to work as they would be in harder times. Because they realize there are other opportunities, they aren’t as concerned about losing opportunities.

An interview can be stressful. Some candidates who are very young or inexperienced may feel anxiety about the hiring process and avoid a potential employer for that reason or, likewise, may want to cancel, but feel anxiety about letting the employer know they aren’t interested.

On the other hand, it is entirely possible that the candidate found an opportunity they were more interested in. Some candidates may try to juggle multiple appointments around the same time without being able to commit to all of them. Simple procrastination can lead to not making a decision until warning the interviewer no longer seems viable.

This is part of the reason it is always better to try and reschedule interviews so that appointments don’t overlap. Most potential employers will be accomodating, and not look negatively upon a candidate, even if they admit to having other interviews.

Some candidates may ghost simply because they don’t feel like they are being taken seriously by an agency, and don’t feel like they ever had a real chance at employment. This can be entirely the candidate’s perception, or it could be due to a lack of communication on the part of the potential employer. Communication is key, but that goes both ways. Everyone’s busy, but it’s always a good idea to prioritize keeping people in the loop as things progress.

Course Correction
Although bad business practices like ghosting usually catch up to people in the long run as they continue burning bridges and narrowing their potential opportunites, this isn’t always apparent to the candidate. They may see it as merely one in an ocean of many, not considering that the job market ebbs and flows, and that an employee’s market doesn’t last forever, or that employers network with one another, and that a bad reputation at one employer can sometimes extend elsewhere, especially with today’s focus on social media.

In many cases, no showing is a good sign that a candidate might not be ideal employee material, since a good employee would at least have the professionalism to inform a potential employer before persuing a different opportunity. At People Plus Solutions we generally don’t hire candidates that fail to meet their interview appointments, unless there are extenuating circumstances. Likewise, failure to appear at work without notice is grounds for termination. Most companies have similar policies. If you aren’t able to make an appointment, it is absolutely critical to communicate with your potential employer, and a staffing agency is no different in this respect than a company hiring you directly.

Recently, some companies have changed their hiring practices to address the threat of ghosting. One such approach involves scheduling interviews with large numbers of candidates on a particular day in the expectation that some won’t show. Some have also found success reducing the period of time between interviews and start dates so as to limit the time the candidate might spend looking at other job options. Yet another tactic is to keep a candidate in reserve until an employee finishes their first day on the job, just in case.

Regardless of the approach, it seems prudent to start finding ways to address ghosting now, since the phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down anytime in the near future.

Article by Cody Barnette, People Plus Solutions