Kindred Spirits—Four Real-Life Stories from Candidates Who Ghosted Their Recruiters
Gather around the old talent acquisition campfire, everyone, because it’s time to share some of the spookiest, real-life candidate ghost stories we’ve ever heard.
Candidate ghosting is one of the strangest phenomena happening in the talent acquisition space today. Even if you’re not hip to the term, which originated in the world of online dating and describes a situation where a person ends a relationship without explanation by refusing to respond to any form of communication, you’ve probably experienced it at least a few times.
In the context of a job application, that means you can’t get a promising candidate in for another round of interviews (or in some case, the first day of their job) because they won’t return your phone calls, emails or texts. Even though you’ve already met and fallen in love, they’ve vanished, and you’ve been ghosted.
Unfortunately, according to new research from business research firm Clutch, the practice is becoming more and more prominent. In fact, 41% of today’s job seekers believe it is reasonable for applicants to ghost companies during the application process.
To help you better understand the candidate’s point of view, we spoke to job seekers who have recently ghosted potential employers. Read on to learn more about their stories.
Ghost Story #1
Glenn, a 26-year-old from the New York metro area who works in the healthcare industry ghosted a potential employer after accepting a position with a lower compensation package than what he said he required.
“I accepted the job, and I said that I would start within a month,” Glenn explained, “but then I had a change of heart. I called two weeks later and said that I changed my mind. They called me back shortly after that and said that they wanted to speak with me about offering more because I had already accepted the position (and they had probably told the other candidates at this point that the position had been filled).”
“I actually never called them back. I wasn’t interested at that point. I was kind of annoyed. First of all, I had taken off time from work to interview at this company. I had used a vacation day to go, and I was expecting an offer that was going to be what I was looking for. That wasn’t what I got.”
“I decided that if a company was not going to be willing to invest in me—the money that I had clearly explained that I was looking to get—then that wasn’t a company that I was going to be willing to work with. I don’t feel bad about that. I kind of feel like they should have given me what I had asked for in the beginning.”
Ghost Story #2
Ted, a 30-year-old system administrator from Atlanta, Georgia, recently walked away from an opportunity after getting bad vibes from the hiring manager in his interview.
“After meeting the person who would be my boss, I knew the job wasn’t something I could stomach,” Ted said. “For one thing, the guy was very unprofessional during the interview—he arrived late, bad-mouthed current employees, and made a few rude jokes—but what turned me off was how I was treated after I progressed to the next round. I was supposed to do an audition at the client site, but nobody ever contacted me with concrete details about where I was supposed to go or when I was supposed to be there.”
“I ghosted because I wanted to avoid unnecessary drama. This guy was so very unprofessional in his demeanor and business sense that I couldn’t see a refusal of the position going over well. There was bound to be drama, and drama is precisely why I don’t want to work for that kind of person.”
Ghost Story #3
Eugenie, a 31-year-old engineering student who works as an administrative assistant, ghosted after getting frustrated with a background check process that wasn’t worth her time.
“This was one of the most thorough background checks I’ve ever encountered,” Eugenie explained. “I could understand if it was for a certain field, but for a $14 per hour admin assistant job?”
“I just thought to myself, ‘This is a lot of hoop-jumping for a job with such a low wage,’ so I told the recruiter I was unable to supply what she wanted and to go with a different candidate. Well, I guess she didn’t get the hint, because she kept calling and texting me after that. I finally told her I had accepted a different offer to get her to leave me alone, and she kept pestering me some more after that, so I blocked her.”
Ghost Story #4
Our last ghost story is from the same candidate who supplied our first ghost story. Glenn, the 26-year-old from the New York area, ghosted a different recruiter simply because he changed his mind about whether he wanted the position in the first place.
“Right before Christmas, a recruiter from a company reached out to me on LinkedIn,” said Glenn. “I talked with him about the position, and then I talked to the hiring manager at the company. Shortly after that, the recruiter called me to ask if I wanted to go in for an interview because the hiring manager and I discussed it, and I had said on the phone call that I wanted to go out there to at least see the office.”
“I didn’t respond to the message. The recruiter texted me and called. I still didn’t respond. I didn’t think it would be worth my time to go. I figured if he doesn’t hear from me, he’ll assume that I’m not interested in the job. I don’t really know if it requires an actual phone call to communicate that.”
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