Guide: Why Recruiters Ghost Candidates and What to Do

Imagine walking into the interview you’ve been waiting for for several months on end. You come prepared to knock it out of the park, and thankfully, you do just that. Then you spend countless hours submitting all the requested information and required paperwork for the job only to get no callback of any kind. What happened?

There are a variety of reasons that a specific recruiter may have ghosted you, but the core of the reason comes down to the same thing. They want to make their job easier. It’s their job to find the best candidate, at the lowest pay, in the shortest time possible. If for whatever reason they feel as if you don’t fit the criteria they are more likely to ghost you.

While you can’t control everything. We are about to go over some of the specific reasons recruiters ghost potential candidates and what you can do to avoid that happening to you. So when you’re walking into that next interview you can have peace of mind and confidence, that no matter what happens, you’ll get the follow up you deserve.

Is It Normal for Recruiters to Ghost You?

Recruiters’ ghosting hiring candidates is becoming an increasing issue, according to leading recruiting professional Jane Ashen. More empathetic recruiting professionals like Jane are starting their own recruiting firms now, oftentimes due to being put off by the behaviors coming from within the industry.

Behavior that leads to ghosting potential candidates reflects poorly on the companies for which they serve. As mentioned earlier, right or wrong, the motivations of the recruiters are easy to understand. However, addressing this matter can feel like a daunting task. You will need to have a proactive mindset to put you in the best position to land that job.

Get ahead of the ball. Be pleasant, direct, but firm with your interactions and how you go about your communications with your recruiter. Let’s get started.

There Are More Attractive Candidates in the Pipeline

The hiring market can be competitive depending on the position to which you’re applying. As was stated earlier in this article, recruiters already have their own set criteria for what makes a hiring candidate more or less attractive for the company for which they’re working. Their job is to get the best candidate, at the lowest price, in the quickest time.

Keep in mind, that while you might have an awesome skill set, there might be someone who looks like a better fit in the stack of resumes on your recruiter’s desk.

What to Do About It

Stay humble, but show up ready to prove yourself. While it may seem like an obvious point to make, you want to be making sure you’re coming to that interview with the proper qualifications for the job in which you’re applying. 

Coming to the table with proper qualifications is the best starting point in an interview. From the recruiters’ perspective if you come to the table unqualified they may feel as if you’re wasting their time. So, they will be much more comfortable wasting your time and potentially ghosting you. 

Recruiters usually want to make sure the candidates have done some research before they apply for a position. You know how qualified or unqualified you are walking into that interview. So first things first, apply for jobs for which you have some experience unless it’s entry-level. And before you go into the interview prepare yourself for questions on how your experience relates to the position on the table.

You’re Qualified but They’re Not Sold on You Just Yet

So you have knocked it out of the park in terms of preparation and you are walking into an interview wholly qualified for the position in which you are applying. For some reason, they are not sold on you just yet. Maybe you are negotiating pay in a way they are not receptive to. Or they could perceive you as being too demanding, rather than forthright and assertive.

What to Do About It

You always want to be considerate of the people you’re interacting with. What does their experience of you feel like on their end? When you leave the room, how is that person going to be talking about you to others around them? Keeping this in mind can help you in your everyday life, not just going into interviews and working with recruiters. This is a great thing to practice with your friends and family before an interview.

Be observant and mindful of the recruiter’s mindset. Maybe the recruiter is having a long stressful day and isn’t looking forward to all of the candidates they have to interview.  That means that your particular time with the recruiter might not be as warm. So, above all, be considerate. Be positive and do what you can to make sure they are having a good experience.

You don’t have to be the most charismatic individual they’ve ever seen grace the mainstage of that interview room. But simply taking a genuine interest in the person in front of you will go a long way. Treat them well, like a person who matters and you will be remembered, making them far more likely to make sure they don’t miss your phone call.

You Did Not Follow a Particular Given Instruction

Failing to follow specific instructions that have been provided could be an indicator of what’s to come for recruiters. If they see you’re already not doing what they asked of you, then that could go directly against their criteria for candidates. Plus, a lot of recruiters will dump your application in the trash if it’s not filled out correctly. They don’t want to waste their time.

What to Do About It

The antidote to this one is rather straightforward. Pay attention. Read the directions from start to finish before you fill anything out. Make sure you are clearly understanding what is being asked of you, and if there is any confusion at any point in the process, ask for clarification on the matter. Recruiters would rather you ask the clarifying questions upfront in order to understand and get it right the first time.

They’d much rather answer your questions than you getting it wrong and giving them more work to do. This all goes back to how they view their day. They have that long pipeline of candidates to get through and if you’re making their job longer, or more difficult, they might decide they simply don’t want to deal with you. Making it a higher risk of getting ghosted.

They Are Simply Procrastinating

Not every recruiter is going to be as passionate and diligent about the position for which they are reviewing applicants. Some recruiters view the job as a grind. They have a huge “pipeline” they have to get through by the end of the day. A recruiter not being as time-efficient as they could be simply can be indicative of someone procrastinating work, which seems daunting or overwhelming.

Really, we all can relate to that feeling. We’ve all had those long days ahead of us, just getting off on the wrong foot from the moment we stepped out of bed that morning. Leading to every single task we have in the day to feel like stressors we would much rather be left avoided. Procrastination is a part of the human condition that we all want to conquer over time.

What to Do About It

You can’t control what other people do or how diligently they perform their job. But what you can do is focus on what you can control. Starting with your attitude and how you choose to react to things. Start by being diligent and having a good attitude about the things you do have control over. 

If you feel you were overlooked due to procrastination, check back in with an assertive but polite email inquiry. Remember: people aren’t doing things TO you. As long as you have followed through and were consistent throughout the process, it will help you move the ball forward.

Be proactive in your communications without hesitation. If you show that you aren’t a procrastinator, this will carry over to other areas in your life and will be infectious to others who come in contact with you. Embody the behavior of the type of person you want to be in your life and the type of people you want to deal with. Having this attitude will dictate far more than your hiring process.

They Are Dealing With Circumstances Outside of You

Regardless of the industry, many companies have internal business politics. Businesses will always come with their own trials and tribulations. Hiring managers could be dealing with senior leadership with regards to future team make up, while at the same time having to run the day to day business operations. 

There could be a dispute among decision-makers on who is more appealing for the job and why. There is a wide array of circumstances that are completely outside of the recruiter you are dealing with, that they may not be as diligent in communicating to you. The stressors of the job dominate their mind more often, leading to getting in touch with you again slipping their mind.

The business can also have outside impacts that could cause a hiring freeze.  This could include things such as:

  • Increased Competition leading to a loss of business
  • Natural disasters
  • Change of products and services

What to Do About It

This might require you to do a little more research in the company.  Check back on the company’s job postings website to see if they are still available.   If the company is publicly held, look online at news articles that might talk about jobs that have been impacted. Look up the industry and check to see if any changes are happening.

If your research comes up short, then your best next move is to reconnect with the recruiter again. Be pleasant and direct. A quick follow up email to the recruiter wanting to check on the status of the application and being excited at the work opportunity is a polite, direct but unintrusive way to touch base.

They Just Went on Vacation or Were Fired

Though much less likely, this reason is still a possibility that should be considered. Recruiters may be in the final days before an upcoming vacation when they were assigned you for the interview process and are just chomping at the bit to get out that door. Leaving you in the wind when they are sipping those margaritas on the beach somewhere fond.

They may also have been fired and another recruiter’s workload just doubled overnight without full preparation on dealing with the multiple caseloads outside of your own. Again this one is less likely but still one to be considered.

What to Do About It

Get the contact information for the recruiter as well as the office from the very beginning of the interview process. After the interview, also get the hiring manager’s contact information if possible. You want to have multiple lines of communication available to you in order to be able to open up the next line the moment another is proving ineffective.

Life happens and if for whatever reason they go on vacation without proper notice or recently got fired, you have options available to you. Touching base with the next person is a means to expedite the process and get the ball rolling for you once more.

They Are Uncomfortable Bearing Bad News

As uncomfortable as it may be to deal with at times. Sometimes the cards just do not play out in your favor. Maybe they decided to go with another candidate. Someone from within the company may have shown up at just the last minute to apply for the same job and the company is displaying loyalty by giving them the job. It happens and there’s nothing you can do about it.

But having carried yourself in the ways we recommend in this article, don’t be surprised if they hold onto your contact information. This means they could potentially give you a call with future opportunities. Every company is looking for good people and they do not want to pass up on a good candidate they already vetted and know would be good for the team.

What to Do About It

You can’t always win every job post and will need to keep moving forward with other opportunities.  If you are passionate about that particular company, your best bet now is to put yourself in a position to receive an opportunity down the road. 

As previously mentioned:

  • You came to the table with the proper qualifications
  • You listened to clear instructions or sought clarification if there was any confusion. 
  • You made an honest effort to show interest in them as a person and let them know you value their time. 
  • You had a pleasant attitude, truly treating them as another human being. 

No company wants to pass up a good candidate so it’s not uncommon for companies to ask for you to remain available for future jobs. Many times the recruiter will continue to work with other hiring managers in different departments since they have already invested a lot of time with you.  This happens much more likely than you might think. This is especially in growing industries such as software design and a variety of other technological fields.

But it’s not an ideal world, so even if you did it all right and came in at a close second for the position, whoever was supposed to contact you just didn’t feel like it. You might just have to accept that this time. Get back out there and keep trying.