Getting Ghosted by Candidates? Here’s How to Improve Your Interview Process

By Micki Mersky
You’ve started the interview process, and to your excitement, you’ve found the perfect candidate!  The only problem?  The candidate isn’t returning your telephone calls or e-mails.  In other words, you’ve just been ghosted.
While ghosting is a term more commonly associated with relationships, it is happening more frequently during the interview process.  Law firms are experiencing radio silence from promising candidates at all stages of recruitment.  From no-shows for scheduled interviews to prospective hires who won’t respond to job offers, this behavior can be extremely frustrating.  Not only can it lead the position to remain unfilled, but in some cases, it could even require you to start the hiring process all over again.
While employers have traditionally been the party most guilty of ghosting or not following up with candidates, the tables have turned in recent years.  With unemployment hovering at historic lows, job seekers will find themselves with more options.  Their growing confidence in the job market can lead them to be more non-committal about new opportunities and not fear the repercussions of participating in this ghosting behavior.
If ghosting has started to take a toll on your law firm, it might be time to make some changes to your interview process.  Although you can’t stop every candidate from disappearing, here are five ways you can keep ghosting in check.
Focus on employer branding
To help minimize your chances of getting ghosted, you need to ensure you are attracting the right candidates from the get-go.  Since most job seekers spend several minutes researching a prospective employer throughout the hiring process, your employer brand is key.
Between your website, social media, press and employee review sites, prospective hires should have a strong, accurate impression of your law firm before they even apply for the job.  This will help create a sense of excitement and urgency about working for the law firm, which can help prevent ghosting at both the early and late stages of the interview process. 
Shorten the interview process
With job seekers interviewing with multiple law firms, employers who move too slowly in the hiring process risk missing out.  If you are taking a long time to respond to applicants, schedule interviews or make a final decision, your top candidates might ghost you for an employer who has a shorter interview process.  
Be transparent and ask for feedback
A lack of transparency about where candidates stand or why they are being asked to complete certain tasks during the interview process might lead them to vanish without a word.  To help create a better candidate experience, be clear about next steps at all stages of the interview process.  Explain how many applicants are in the running, when a decision will be made and how the candidates can expect to hear from you.
At the same time, it’s important to make the effort to ensure professionals can be transparent with you.  Even if you don’t have an update, keep in touch with your candidates and encourage them to give you feedback.  Asking them how they feel about the role, whether they have any concerns or need any clarification, are easy ways to keep them engaged throughout the interview process.
Ensure all interviewers are on the same page
In order to decide whether to move forward with an opportunity, candidates need to feel that they received an authentic, well-rounded view of the role, as well as the law firm.  It’s impossible to do this if they are receiving mixed messages or inconsistent information at each touchpoint of the process.  As a result, all parties involved in hiring and onboarding—from talent acquisition to human resources to the hiring manager—need to be aligned on the role, the vision of the law firm and company culture.
Personalize job offers
With so many options in today’s market, some job seekers feel confident they can blow off an offer in order to find a “better” opportunity.  That’s why it’s critical that you make your job offer feel personal and unique to the individual candidate.  In addition to being able to emphasize why the candidate is the right person for the role, you should also be able to explain why your law firm and this role matches the candidate’s specific career needs and goals. 
While these tips can help you proactively combat ghosting, you can’t prevent everyone from dropping out of your interview process.  The silver lining is that candidates who do not have the decency to tell you they’re not interested are not the people you want to hire.  The right person for the role will respect your time and be enthusiastic about moving forward in the process.
As a Senior Managing Director at The Execu|Search Group, Micki Mersky oversees the Legal Services division in the Parsippany, New Jersey office.  Placing legal professionals in contract, contract-to-hire and direct hire roles, the division’s clients include solo practitioners, global law firms and corporate legal departments.  Micki may be reached at [email protected].
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