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HR Glossary | What is ghosting?

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What is ghosting?

Ghosting, as the term is used in HR settings, refers to the sudden ending of communication between an employer and potential employee initiated by either party.

Ghosting also has been used as a term in the dating world when one member of the relationship suddenly goes silent with no explanation. That’s exactly what happens in employment settings. An employee who has progressed through the interview process, even into the final stages, suddenly stops hearing from the employer. Or, an employer who has been actively pursuing a top candidate who seemed interested in the position suddenly stops hearing from that candidate.


Why does ghosting occur?

There are a range of reasons why an employer or employee would ghost during the hiring process. They can be summed up simply, though, by one key driver: no longer interested in the relationship.

Similarly to the phenomenon of ghosting in the dating world, employers ghost candidates when they’re not longer interested in them—a better candidate has come along, or an offer has been made. Potential employees may ghost for the same reason—they received a better offer. Or, they’ve simply lost interest in the company because of its brand reputation, or they don’t feel a strong fit with the culture or get a good vibe from those they’ve interacted with.


How common is ghosting?

Ghosting is surprisingly common both on the part of employers and employees. Visier recently conducted a survey of 1000 UK and 1000 US employees to measure both the prevalence of ghosting and the reasons behind it. Survey results revealed that an astonishing 84% of respondents indicated that they had ghosted an employer or potential employer during the previous 18 months; 62 of respondents indicated that they had been ghosted by a potential employer.


How can ghosting be minimized

Perhaps the most important thing both employers and employees can do to minimize ghosting is to focus on frequent, open and transparent communication. Employers need to keep candidates informed of the process, where they stand, and next steps. Prospective employees need to let employers know if they’re no longer interested in a position or if they have other offers they’re considering.  

About the author: Visier Team

People-centered ideas and insights by the editorial team at Visier.

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