Ghosting in the Workplace and How to Avoid It

Ghosting – it’s not just for dating anymore!

Coined as a way to describe would-be romantic partners who simply stop communicating without warning, “ghosting” has officially made its way into the workplace. Much like its counterpart in the personal realm, ghosting in the professional world refers to what happens when one party – either the employer or the candidate – seemingly drops out of the process without any explanation and without communicating further.

It’s frustrating to have happen to you, whether you’re a job candidate who’s put a ton of effort into interviewing or an employer who’s invested time and energy into advancing a candidate through the process. No one likes to be on the receiving end of it, but more and more people seem to be experiencing it. So what’s really going on?

Who’s Ghosting Who?

When we’re talking about ghosting in the interview process, the first question is typically about which “side” is ghosting which: the employers or the candidates. According to Indeed, it’s a little bit of both, and it depends on who you ask. A 2021 Indeed survey revealed that 28% of job seekers say that they’ve ghosted an employer within the previous year (up from 18% the year before), but 76% of employers say they’ve been ghosted. In the same survey, 77% of job seekers say they’ve been ghosted by an employer (with 10% reporting being ghosted after receiving a verbal offer), and only 27% of employers say that they have not ghosted a candidate in the previous year.

In short: there’s a lot of ghosting to go around.

Part of the rise in ghosting has certainly been due to the employment challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic. The manufacturing sector is under more pressure than ever before, with production delays and supply chain issues putting a strain on systems. In turn, those companies may find themselves under more pressure to hire someone fast, leading to job descriptions that aren’t entirely accurate or screening processes that aren’t quite as rigorous for weeding out the most unserious candidates. On the other hand, job seekers are in a more powerful position than before, and many candidates are willing to ghost an employer without worrying about repercussions if their needs aren’t met.

What’s behind the ghosting? For job seekers, those reasons can vary, but it usually involves something about the job or company turning out to be not what they were expecting. According to a survey by Visier, the top five reasons why candidates ghosted potential employers are:

  • The salary was too low (29%)
  • They received a more attractive job offer (28%)
  • The role was described or pitched inaccurately (27%)
  • The company had a poor reputation and/or online reviews (26%)
  • They disliked the perceived workplace culture (22%)


What Can Companies Do?

The first step to cutting down on ghosting is ensuring that there’s no accidental ghosting going on. Most frequently, this happens when a candidate misses an email from the employer and assumes that they have been ghosted. Companies that don’t want to be ghosted also should, of course, avoid ghosting candidates themselves! Manufacturing can be a fast-moving industry, and it’s crucial to keep an eye on details and ensure that communications are clear and timely.

From there, it’s all about ensuring that the process is as transparent and personal as possible from the very beginning. Since many job seekers ghost because they feel there has been dishonesty or deliberate opaqueness along the way, keeping communications open and setting out clear expectations can smooth the way through the early stages of the hiring process. This includes things like having clear and accurate descriptions of the role and the hiring timeline, as well as keeping candidates in the loop throughout the process.

The other side of it is, quite simply, the human side. It’s much easier to ghost when you feel like you’re being seen as just a number or a cog in the long and complex manufacturing process. Instead, focus on authenticity and building personal rapport, even relatively early on. Consider candidates’ needs and timelines as much as the company’s, especially in this labor market where top candidates will have competing offers. A too-slow timeline or a drawn-out attempt to save money by lowballing salary can backfire and lead to candidates simply backing out without notice.

Culture also plays a major part in keeping your company from getting ghosted. Candidates want to join a workplace with a great culture and a positive reputation. To avoid a cultural mismatch that leads to ghosting, cover all your cultural bases, from monitoring your online reputation to ensuring that the candidate’s personal experience (interviews, conversations, etc.) demonstrates the positivity and respect that your company values.

This same attention to detail, personalization, and respect should continue on through the onboarding process and, indeed, throughout an employee’s time at the company. It’s the best way to ensure an ongoing, positive reputation and to avoid being on the wrong side of ghosting.

By Rose Dorta

Are you a high-performing leader or believe you have the potential to tackle a more challenging role? Would you be interested in career opportunities that are seeking these attributes?

I’d love to chat with you and answer any questions that you have. Email me, Rose Dorta, managing director of Kaizen HR Solutions, here.


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