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Great candidates ghosting you? Conversational recruiting could put a stop to that.

Posted by
Kaushik Satish
on
November 16, 2021

According to Indeed, 76% of employers report that they have been ghosted by candidates in the past year and 57% believe the instances are increasing.

Monday morning is not looking good for recruitment lead Paula. She had three promising candidates lined up for a crucial role and was confident of closing them. But all three have gone AWOL and she isn’t sure what’s happening.

Candidate A had applied early and seemed very interested in the role. After an exploratory chat, Paula asked them to share their updated CV and work samples. Since then, she has not heard back.

Paula had personally scouted candidate B’s gold-star profile that seemed a great fit for the role. But she and B have not been able to find a mutually convenient time to speak. After a couple of attempts, B has stopped responding.

Candidate C had been in the process for weeks and cleared three interview rounds. It took Paula a couple of days just to check with the panels and get their go-ahead. She eventually made C an offer last week but has got no reply.

Paula has just been ghosted. 

Ghosting is a behavior in which candidates stop communicating with a recruiter or potential employer without any explanation midway through a hiring process. This can happen very early in the process (case in point: candidate A) or much later (candidate C). Ghosting is frustrating whenever it happens but especially so if you have invested a lot of time and resources into a candidate relationship. 

With business picking up after the pandemic blues and companies looking to hire top-notch talent to meet increased demand, recruiting teams have a mandate to hire quickly and efficiently. But ghosting is throwing a spanner in the works. 

How do you solve this? We believe the answer lies in conversational recruiting.

Conversational vs Conventional recruiting

Recruitment is, at its core, incredibly people-centric. It involves understanding people’s skills and needs and matching them to the right jobs and organizations to create beautiful symbiotic relationships. 

Unfortunately, traditional recruitment — owing to the scale and pressure of hiring demands — has become at least 60% administrative. Sending out information, updating databases, scheduling conversations...such mundane, repetitive tasks take up recruiters’ time, leaving them very little energy and time to focus on the truly value-adding bits: nurturing candidate relationships.

Conversational recruiting turns the spotlight towards the people-centric aspects of hiring. Interestingly, this shift in focus is enabled by automation and AI (often viewed as “anti” human) powered tech solutions.

Why do candidates ghost employers?

Job hunting is not an easy or pleasant task at the best of times. During a global crisis that has also hit close to home, it is even harder. In order to understand ghosting, we need to put ourselves into the shoes of job seekers.

In the earlier example, candidate A seems to be really interested in the role. They have even had an initial conversation with Paula. But they have not yet gotten back with their CV and work samples. What would help move things along is asking why?

One reason could be that they are too busy in their current jobs (most top talent is already employed while looking for a new job). So when Paula gives them a call during the day, they feel pressured and put it off. It is easier for them to think, “I’ll do this later.” The longer the delay, the more awkward they feel until the only way out seems to be to stop replying.

Candidate B simply doesn’t have the time to get on a call with a recruiter during the workday. When B is off work, so is Paula. Candidate C, on the other hand, could have just gotten tired of waiting for Paula to get back; or they could be put off by something that happened during the hiring process — perhaps a poor interview experience or delays in the process.

As you can see, the reasons for ghosting are many and varied. Sometimes it is simple and straightforward, like a job seeker who has registered for a hiring event forgetting to show up. At other times, it is someone like candidate C trying to avoid a difficult conversation. In all of these cases, conversational recruiting keeps the communication channels open and flowing.

3 tenets of conversational recruiting

The goal of conversational recruiting is to make candidates feel seen and heard, be genuinely helpful and simplify their lives, and in the process, build a relationship with them. In the short term, this will help you hold onto the best talent who will appreciate the personal connection and are less likely to ghost you. In the long term, you will create terrific value for your employer brand.

A number of clients here at Sense believe in the power of conversational recruiting. Based on our observation of their best practices, we have identified 3 key principles that can define your conversational recruiting strategy and reduce costly candidate drop-off.

1. Have empathy

Understand the challenges the candidate is facing and demonstrate empathy by leveraging tech to solve their problem. For instance, an automated text message — less intrusive, still personal — to gently remind a candidate about an upcoming hiring event they’ve registered for or submit their documents in time. With a solution like Sense Texting, you can not only personalize this text and send it from an actual number, but also schedule it so that it reaches the candidate at a time when they can take action right away.

2. Be available

In one of the examples, we saw something as mundane as availability leading a good candidate to ghost Paula. Many job seekers, especially those working in healthcare or logistics, are not in 9 to 5 jobs. When they work in late shifts, they will be able to apply and respond to your questions or raise queries at odd hours.  

Stalemate? Not if Paula also has a digital recruiter on her team — an AI-powered conversational chatbot that is available 24x7 to answer candidate questions, do top-of-funnel pre-screening, and even schedule interviews. Sense’s recruiting chatbot is powered by Natural Language Processing, which means interactions with it feel like regular conversations. 

In this case, Sense can help Paula schedule an email that encourages the candidate to reach out and ask questions via a chatbot that is available 24x7, all week long. By chatting with Reva, the Sense chatbot, the candidate can quickly assess fit, check pay, etc. and make an informed decision, all while Paula is off work over the weekend. 

Time savings? Check. Ghosting avoided? Check.

3. Stay in touch

Your best candidates are already in your database: the silver medallists from other roles, the top talent finishing a contract soon, candidates looking for a switch… When you have lost touch with them for a long time, they are more likely to ghost you when you eventually get back. 

Conversational recruiting means that you keep them ‘warm’ by periodically checking in on them. Gently check if they are open to new opportunities and ask them to update their information so that your database remains updated. 

Staying in touch is also important when your hiring process is drawn out. Don’t leave communication gaps as candidates move through the stages. Schedule text messages to keep candidates in the pipeline updated about their status or simply to check in every few days. They will be in the know, feel reassured that things are progressing, and no longer have a reason to ghost you.


Overall, email and text are less intrusive but highly effective ways to reach people. In our experience, 40-50% reply to thoughtfully worded, timely sent automated emails. And 75% of recipients check and respond to texts within 90 seconds. These are great numbers and more importantly, trackable when you use the right solutions.

Pridestaff, one of America’s largest staffing firms, increased their placements 3X and bagged a candidate satisfaction rating of 4.6 out of 5 by deploying the Sense Chatbot to engage with candidates. Discover what they did right in this case study.

Wondering if our solutions can help you reduce candidate drop-off? Tell us more here and we’ll call you back to figure it out.

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