Ghosting – why it’s bad practice

Ghosting does damage to management consultancy employers…

…and candidates.

We’ve seen several articles recently about recruiters and employers guilty of this regrettable practice.

Whether it’s on the rise or being called out more readily I don’t know.

For those unfamiliar with the term it refers to the practice of employers or recruiters ignoring candidates (typically not reverting post application or interview and/or ignoring messages) or candidates doing the reverse.

As well as these recent articles we receive regular feedback on the subject of other employers’ and recruiters’ application “black holes”.

In our job search survey it was cited as one of the most frustrating aspects of the job search process.

Effect on an employer’s brand

What is surprising is how, in a tighter labour market, employers and the recruiters they use (both internal and external) appear oblivious to the brand damage that inevitably ensues.

This damage is literally incalculable. It takes very little effort to look on-line for reviews and negative ones inevitably dissuade candidates from applying in the first place. They raise doubts about potentially entering a frustrating recruitment process as well as whether the employer is one they want to work for.

Widespread frustration

A recent post on this subject we placed on LinkedIn attracted an astonishing 350,000 impressions (a measure of how widely it was seen) which shows what a huge topic is it, generating a lot of passion! It also produced numerous comments with universal disgust at the practice, but also acknowledgment that that it showed the employer’s “true colours”.

While it is widely known that many candidate job applications are not responded to, what was more alarming was how often candidates were “ghosted” after interview. Sometimes after several rounds of interviews.

Apart from the reputational damage to the employer there may be real damage to some applicants. Mental health and well being is a front line topic and it’s not difficult to imagine this behaviour having a catastrophic impact on an unemployed job seeker.

How might ‘ghosting’ influence a consultancy firm’s clients?

Less well known is the effect it may have with a management consulting firm’s potential clients. If an organisation is, for example, considering using a management consultancy, they may be impressed by a would-be supplier’s values or D&I policy but dissuaded by social media posts indicating how these values play out poorly in practice. Hypocrisy is rarely an attractive quality in an organisation.

There is also the very real possibility that a ghosted applicant might end up in an influential position with a prospective client….

Ghosting works both ways

Employers and recruiters can find they are on the receiving end of ghosting themselves from candidates who fail to return calls, prioritise a competing interview invitation or even ignore a job offer. Post-pandemic labour shortages led to an increase in such practices as applicants had their pick of roles. The market may be calmer at present but good candidates are always in short supply.

It’s unlikely that there will be social media condemnation of these applicants, unlike employers, but it is likely that the employer and/or recruiter and people involved in the process will retain information which may come back to haunt the candidate in future.

Crude job board algorithms put unsuitable jobs adverts in front of candidates who can apply with the click of a button without even reading the job and required qualifications. This leads to recruiters receiving applications from unqualified candidates and candidates applying to wholly unsuitable jobs they have no interest in. Both employer and candidate are overwhelmed and perhaps this is another reason for the practice.

The answer to both sides of the coin is of course the same: a robust and candidate centric recruitment process that from the outset treats applicants with respect. Often this will address candidate ghosting too. This might not always be easy but genuine commitment from all involved in the employer’s leadership and the recruitment policies is essential.


Ghosting is the widespread practice of ignoring candidates' job applications. It is disrespectful, bad for their self-esteem and mental health and also appalling for the employer's own brand. After all, who would want to work for them?
It is disrespectful, bad for candidates’ self-esteem and mental health and also appalling for the employer's own brand. Poor experiences can be broadcast over the internet very quickly: after that who would want to work for them?

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