Who’s to Blame When a Candidate “Ghosts” the Interview?

by Pranav Ramesh
April 03, 2019
Effective Solutions to Dealing with Ghosting Candidates

Mark Hanna, as infamously portrayed by Matthew McConnaughey in 2013’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” gives the most accurate description of market behavior I’ve ever heard: 

“Nobody knows if a stock (market) is gonna go up, down, sideways or in circles… least of all the brokers.”- Matthew McConnaughey in Wolf of Wall Street 

In the film, he meant the stock market, but this prescient statement correctly describes the typical behavior of almost all markets: Stock markets, crypto markets, even job markets – all of these markets can be unpredictable. The only thing we can be certain of is that they’re constantly changing.

How Ghosting Got Started

The U.S. unemployment rate once peaked at over 10% in October of 2009, in the aftermath of the financial crisis. This created a massive swell of candidates and resumes flooding many employers’ desks. All of a sudden there were less jobs available and more qualified applicants to fill them. (The opposite of this phenomenon happens, too – what is a hiring surge? Find out now, right here on our blog.)

The sudden increase in applications was just too large for many employers to handle. Employers who were very fortunate became accustomed to having more people to choose from. The end result has been, not unsurprisingly, a drastic breakdown in communications.

Related: 5 ways job-seekers can WIN in the new job market


Who Ghosts Whom? Why It Happens

Applicants weren’t being contacted if they were passed on by the employer. Interviews were put off or delayed. The entire hiring pipeline, from start to finish, took longer and longer leaving more job seekers wondering where they stood.

The tides started to turn in 2014 when unemployement had dropped to nearly half. At only 5.6% the balance between jobs and job seekers was leveling out. Each year following 2014 unemployment has dropped even farther. In February, 2019 approximately 20,000 jobs were created and unemployment dipped to 3.8%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ghosts at the Interview and Beyond

Now that the tides have turned more employers than ever are seeing the opposite end of the poor communication stick. Hiring managers, recruiters, and HR professionals nationwide are reporting less applications, fewer qualified candidates, and a frustrating increase in interviewees not showing up.

The HR sector has grown so frustrated they’ve adopted the term “ghosting” to describe it. The term originally emerged in 2011 to describe ending a (usually intimate) relationship by unexpectedly ending all communication with the person. If you weren’t happy with someone, rather than go through the hassle of telling them, you just stopped answering calls or responding to messages. This practice has since become dismally common in recruiting, hiring, and staffing, sometimes called “communication deprivation syndrome” – learn how to cure communication deprivation syndrome here.

How to Prevent Ghosting?

While the tides may have turned the root problem remains the same… a tangible, communication breakdown. Neither the employers from 2011, nor today’s ghosting candidates, are in the right. The truth is we can all do better.

Effective communication is the key to relationships, and business relationships are no different. While it’s never fun to feel like you’ve been ghosted, you don’t have to keep the cycle going; staying in contact is easier than ever, thanks to technology.

Looking for your next career?

Email us hello@ptechpartners.com, or just browse all our open positions today. 

About the Company:

Peterson Technology Partners (PTP) has partnered with some of the biggest Fortune brands to offer excellence of service and best-in-class team building for the last 25 years. 

PTP’s diverse and global team of recruiting, consulting, and project development experts specialize in a variety of IT competencies which include:  

  • Cybersecurity  
  • DevOps  
  • Cloud Computing
  • Data Science
  • AI/ML
  • Salesforce Optimization
  • VR/AR 

Peterson Technology Partners is an equal opportunities employer. As an industry leader in IT consulting and recruitment, specializing in diversity hiring, we aim to help our clients build equitable workplaces.


1030 W Higgins Rd, Suite 230
Park Ridge, IL 60068



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