10 ways to Reduce Ghosting Rates in a Candidate-Driven Job Market

Our clients are consistently telling us that they are struggling with the staggering and unprecedented rates of candidate ghosting. If you're not familiar with the term, candidate ghosting  is when you lose a candidate during the last interview or offer stage for no apparent reason. The person just… disappears.

The 'candidate experience' is more than just another passing HR trend. The way we recruit has changed because the current job market is candidate-driven.

That means you don’t pick talent anymore. Talent picks you and they do it based on their candidate experience.

My take is that business - particularly small business – continues to view a candidate as a supplier rather than a customer. If you’re dealing with a supplier, you’ve typically got the upper hand. If you’re dealing with a (prospective) customer, you’ll go the extra mile to acquire or keep the sale.

Let’s take a look at 10 ways to enhance the candidate experience by adopting a customer-centric approach to recruiting.  

1.  Develop a top down “candidate as a customer” culture.

 I encourage CEO's to adopt a clear "candidate as a customer" philosophy that  is continuously reinforced in team meetings. Only by making this a top measurable business priority will managers take it seriously. 

CEO's may also give recruiting success considerable weight in the performance or bonus calculation metrics. 

You can also mandate that a survey is sent to all interviewed candidates to obtain feedback about their experience and collect concrete data about your recruiting process.   

2.  Improve your website career page. It’s your product marketing page.

Think of the career pages on your website as product/services pages. It’s essentially a mini website within your site that promotes you as an employer of choice and as an employer who has taken the time to create content for this important customer segment, distinct from a customer seeking to acquire your products or services.

As with any product page, a good Careers section will be written with the customer in mind and not written to only describe what you need from the employee. It will describe the benefits of working with you, your culture, testimonials, and photos presented with a warm, fun and inviting vibe. Get creative and ensure you’re showcasing your unique flavour.  

Work with your marketing department to create an employer brand and ensure these pages are written with the same attention and effort as your product marketing collateral.  

3.  Think of your job posting as a product brochure.

If your career page is your product marketing page, your job posting is your product brochure. 

It is not a job description - just as you wouldn’t simply post the technical specifications when marketing a product.  You would put some effort into creating a value proposition, highlighting the features and benefits, and communicating your differentiator.  You would include a compelling photo and make sure it is formatted properly and in line with your brand.

The same principles apply to job postings. You are selling your open position and your company as a compelling place to work. Your goal is to stand out from the crowd and to show that you’ve put some thought and effort into the posting and that the recruiting function (and your workforce) is just as important as the sales function.

Refer to the Creative Job Posting example.  

4.  Can’t compete with stellar compensation and benefits? Get creative.

There’s no way around it. As a small business, it’s challenging to compete with Amazon and public sector agencies for talent when their benefits are top of the line. But it’s not impossible.

If you can’t compete monetarily, you may be able to compete with time off.  Unfortunately, the downside is perceived reduced productivity. However, reduced hours can often actually increase productivity when the employee is focused and motivated to completing assignments given the time-off carrot in the horizon.   

Time off examples:

  • Reduce the work week hours for full week pay
  • Days off on birthdays or special events
  • Above market or unlimited vacation
  • Flexible work hours
  • Flex days
  • Time off for training
  • Summer hours
  • Paid volunteer time
  • Lose the seniority system
  • Guaranteed work from home for a year. 

You may also want to understand up front what's important to your top candidate and accommodate their top ask. 

5.  Offer a retention bonus.

Unless you’re hiring for a highly specialized position, I’m not a fan of a signing bonus where compensation is front loaded before you have a chance to determine if your hire can perform.

Instead, opt for a retention bonus and back-load the additional compensation. For example, set aside 8% to 10% of salary (or 4 or 5 weeks of wages) to be paid if the employee remains with you for a year. This may seem extraordinarily generous and costly until you calculate the costs associated with hiring someone who leaves after the first 6 months of training.

A retention bonus provides strong motivation to remain with you for at least a year and can also be used as a retention strategy for your must-keep employees. 

Be sure to create clear terms and conditions in the employment contract that outlines what happens if the employee is dismissed.  

6.  Manage expectations about the recruitment process. 

It’s critical that candidates who apply to your job ads understand what to expect. Be clear about this in all your recruiting materials.

One way to do this is to set an automated email reply sent to all applicants that clearly outlines your recruiting process and timelines. If you are not using recruiting software, you can also point them to your career page where you can provide updates about the recruiting stage for each open position.

7.  The interviewer is your Sales Manager.  Winging it won't cut it. 

According to LinkedIn research, 83% of candidates say a negative interviewing experience can change their mind about a role or company they once liked. On the flip side, 87% of candidates say a positive interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once doubted.

You wouldn’t put someone with no experience or training in front of a prospective customer.  Why then is it so common to assign an employee to screen and meet candidates who has not been trained to conduct an interview?

This inexperienced person is often more nervous than the candidate and is incapable of engaging with the applicant. They are often busy and see the interviewing process as something that needs to end quickly.

This is a mistake. It is critical for your company to ensure that the person conducting meetings at every stage of the interviewing process knows what they are doing, understands the importance of rapport and relationship building, and is familiar with asking the right questions and selling the company and the position.  

The interviewer must also budget time for the follow-up and communication pieces of the process.  Refer to the Interviewing Guide for Managers

8.  Giddy up on the timelines.

We’re hearing that the time to hire is now often 3 months.  This is problematic since in-demand talent stays on the market for only 10 days. In today’s candidate-driven job market, candidates have a lot of opportunities. The more time you take, the more competitive offers the candidate will receive.

From my experience, these delays are completely avoidable and often occur around scheduling, indecisiveness, and procrastination.  There’s still the outdated mindset that the candidate is a supplier and that the employer is in the position of power.

Your top-down candidate experience mandate will help your managers giddy up.  (see #1)

9.  Account manage your candidates. 

In line with the sales function, the hiring manager assumes account management responsibilities for all interviewed candidates.  And that responsibility doesn't just affect their open position.  Consider that even if a particular candidate is not suitable for their current open position, they may be suitable for future openings. 

This is also true for candidates who don't pass the sniff test and will never be hired into your company. Consider that their experience will impact the perception of your brand.  It's unlikely that a candidate with a negative experience will ever buy from you and will inevitably speak negatively about your company to anyone who will listen. This creates negative mind share and must be considered in all dealings with anyone who has established a relationship with your business. 

Provide each candidate with a stellar experience and increase your chances of hiring the best candidate:   

  1. Make contact or set up a preliminary interview with top applicants before the posting deadline. 
  2.  Ensure that the interview scheduling process is friendly, clear, and seamless. 
  3. Follow up with and thank ALL interviewed candidates and communicate timelines and next steps.
  4. Immediately schedule second interviews with top candidates even if you haven't completed all preliminary interviews. 
  5. Shortly after interviewing a top candidate, consider:
    • Sending them a "brochure" outlining the benefits of employment with you. Refer to the Brochure for Interviewed Candidates
    • If you have the budget, it’s also a nice gesture to provide candidates with a small gift or swag to show your appreciation for their efforts to come in and meet with you - just as you might do with a prospective customer. 
  6. Calendarize touching base with top candidates every 2 days. Keep them warm and engaged. 
  7. Reach out to ALL unsuccessful interviewed candidates to advise them that they are no longer in the running.  I cannot stress this point enough. It is extremely dejecting for a candidate to be left in the dark without closure.  There's no acceptable excuse to omit communicating the hard stuff.  "I didn't have time" simply doesn't cut it.  Refer to pre-written regrets scripts
  8. Make the filling of your open position a top priority and get that offer out as soon as possible. 

10.  Assign responsibility for the recruitment process.

Assign someone in your company who is responsible for managing the recruitment process. This could be a strong administrator or coordinator who is tasked with the A-Z candidate experience. From career pages to hire.  Provide them with a monetary allowance to take on this task for as long as this responsibility sits with them. We highly recommend that their salary is not increased as an increase is forever. Instead, opt for separating this out as a separate line on their pay stub as an “allowance” that can be removed once the task is removed.


Navigating today's competitive labour market isn't easy.  If you're consistently striking out on the hiring front, you may want to review your recruiting process and implement one or several of the strategies above. You may just find your candidate ghosting rates reduced to zero.  

Ariane Laird Vancouver

Ariane Laird is CEO & Founder of ConnectsUs HR, a company that provides tools & resources to quickly set up a Human Resources department.  
You can contact her directly from the Inquiry Type drop down menu.