A Spooky Workplace Trend: Ghosting by Job Candidates

Author: Angela Campiere       

job ghosting

The incidence of job candidates “ghosting” hiring managers by disappearing from the interview process, or new hires not showing up for their jobs, is on the rise.

“Ghosting,” the practice of ending personal relationships by going radio silent, has found its way into the workplace.

“Workplace ghosting,” according to B2B ratings and reviews firm Clutch, “occurs when a candidate abruptly disengages from the interview process without explanation.” It also happens when a new hire never shows up for a job or when an employee leaves one day and never returns.

Recruiting Daily Advisor’s recent research among employers found that 58 percent of respondents say they have been ghosted by a candidate during the recruiting process. And The Knowledge Academy, which provides training courses globally, says the industries in which candidate ghosting happens most frequently are: advertising/marketing (28 percent), business/finance/legal (21 percent), retail/hospitality (14 percent), and, in smaller amounts, technical services, education, health care, and government.

Clutch, in a survey of nearly 500 full-time employees, found that the most common reasons job candidates gave for ghosting potential employers were:

  • Accepted another job (30 percent)
  • Ghosted by the company itself (23 percent)
  • Realized not a match for the job (19 percent)
  • Had doubts about the company (8 percent)
  • Experienced technical problems with the application (7 percent)
  • Had a bad interview experience (7 percent)

As that list shows, job candidates and employees aren’t the only ones ghosting. Employers, used to holding the cards when it comes to hiring and firing, have long “ghosted,” many say. The difference now is that they are getting a taste of their own medicine.

Why are people ghosting? A report in The Washington Post put the blame in the United States on the strong labor market. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics recording an unemployment rate of a 3.7 percent in June, there are more jobs available than people looking for work — meaning when the right opportunity comes along, people don’t feel bad about skipping out.

“This is just not a good thing to do for either side,” Wharton management Professor Peter Cappelli said in a Wharton report on workplace etiquette.

And Caleb Papineau, former director of global marketing at TINYpulse, told Business Insider in an earlier interview that “quitting a job abruptly is neither good for the employee nor the employer.”

As for anyone tempted to ghost, Caleb advises: “Be professional, and don’t burn bridges unless you have to.”