The Haunting No Recruiter Likes

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Imagine someone agreed to come visit your house. You prepare delicious food for them, change your routine for the day, tell your family members about them, and even they tweak their routines a bit. The guest does not show up. You try to call them up, leave messages but there is no reply of any sort. You get worried, anxious, frustrated and somewhat angry at the same time. This, in a nutshell, is ‘ghosting’ in a domestic terminology.

 Now imagine something like this happening in a professional setting. Whether a recruiter believes in ghosts or not, chances are he or she would definitely encounter the phenomenon of ghosting. A ‘ghost’ is any candidate who commits and then disappears often cutting off all contact abruptly.

 Ghosting could occur at any stage. A candidate may agree to show up for interview but when the day of the interview comes, there is no sign.

 A candidate may show up for the interview, ace it, cheerfully agree to all the conditions, and then doesn’t show up on the day of joining the company. Some candidates even clear the formalities and paperwork. Even health check-ups are cleared wherever there’s a requirement. And still there are chances that the candidate just won’t show up at the job. There have been instances when flight tickets were booked by candidates but even those weren’t used!

 Recruiters all over the world would have stories to tell when they received calls from various companies just ‘ghosted’ by the candidates the recruiters had roped in. Or when they got worried about a candidate’s health and safety.

Companies often have to resort to guesswork when ‘ghosting’ takes place. Calls, messages go unreturned. Sometimes even contact numbers are changed, or phones are switched off. Emails go unanswered. Instead of formally quitting, the candidate just stops showing up at the job.


Trends are changing in job applying processes. At one point in time, people often used to covet a particular job. At other times, there was also a trend to scan the ‘Classified’ sections of newspapers and apply for a couple of jobs which interested the candidate. Chances are, not all of them would lead to interview call-ups.

Moreover, at one point, companies used to ‘ghost’ candidates after interviews. Only those who progressed to the next round were communicated about the later processes. But now, things have reversed.

Many people apply at multiple places just for the sake of applying. Each new offer is seen as a potential step up, a better opportunity. The scanning process never stops, it seems.

Ghosting is a phenomenon which most of us engage in various aspects of our lives. Things have to be “understood.” People in general would like to avoid confrontations, awkwardness and conflict, and saying ‘no’ or formally quitting could very well lead to all of that. But what makes ghosting at a professional level a hot button topic is the signing of a contract, which entails a commitment. Ghosting after committing is the issue. When a candidate leaves without a formal notice the recruitment process has to then be started all over again, with the company and the recruiters bearing all the costs.

 ‘No’ Problem:

It’s not wrong to apply at multiple places. Multiple job offers are not a bad thing. And it’s only logical that candidates cannot accept all the job offers they get.

(Emergencies and crises come unannounced, and those are exceptions to the case. )

 How to go about with the need to reply in the negative is a huge task for some, especially those who are more on the socially awkward side.

And chances are, candidates have to put up their best behaviour in all circumstances. How to say ‘no’ then, without appearing rude or unprofessional is the question. And someone has to be told ‘No.’

That precisely is the problem: candidates don’t even say no.

An absence of response has come to be equated with saying ‘No.’ An absence of response has come to be considered a response in itself.

 What is the answer here then? How to go about as not to ‘ghost’ recruiters?

 As basic as it can get: communicate.  Whatever is the scenario, say so. If you are probably going to say no, make it clear. If you need to drop out for some reason midway through the process, talk about it, no matter how awkward the conversation might be.

A moment of awkwardness on an interpersonal level can often save hours of anxiety and frustration on an official level.