Job candidates are still ghosting employers — and the interview process is to blame

Employee Benefit NewsBy Employee Benefit News
December 13th, 2023 • 3 Minutes

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Job interviews could mean hours of prep work from candidates, as they strive to impress their potential employers — but are employers putting in enough work to impress their candidates?

According to a survey by hiring software company Greenhouse, over one-third of U.S.-based candidates have ghosted employers during the hiring process because the company did not meet expectations or they had a poor interview experience. Additionally, over one-third of candidates have experienced discriminatory interview questions, most commonly around their age, race and gender.

As many companies tighten their budgets even further in the coming year, this spells trouble: Hiring new talent doesn’t come cheap, with costs estimated at anywhere between 1.2 times and 4 times the former position’s salary. Employers need to update their approach or risk losing great talent and money, says Ariana Moon, head of talent planning and acquisition at Greenhouse.

Read more: 8 questions job seekers should ask in interviews 

“It’s unfortunate that such a large percentage of candidates have negative experiences,” she says. “This signals a good opportunity for companies to invest in creating interview processes that feel streamlined, equitable and transparent.”

Communication is key

Moon notes that while every company will have unique challenges when it comes to its hiring process, those challenges are all likely rooted in poor communication. For Moon, a good rule of thumb is to update candidates every two to three business days about their progression, even if it means sending an email letting the candidate know that no decision has been made yet.

“It’s never a good experience being in the dark,” says Moon. “When will I hear back? When do I know whether I’m moving forward or not? Who am I meeting in these interviews? If you can keep a very open line of communication with a candidate, you can do a lot to mitigate some of these negative experiences.”

Read more: Starting a new job? A career coach shares 3 tips to thrive

Consistent communication with candidates will help the process feel more organized and transparent, but employers have to take it further, communicating the demands of the positions with themselves and the candidates, advises Moon. Everyone involved in the hiring process should have a clear understanding of the job description, treating it as a rubric where candidates are scored on the skills needed for the job, while candidates should know what’s expected of them to fulfill the role successfully. Moon points out this will help interviewers avoid asking questions that may touch on more personal topics, like the candidate’s marital status or national origin.

“Every question we ask in our interview process is tied back to a predetermined attribute or skill we’ve aligned with the [role],” she says. “Everything should point back to how someone will perform on the job.”

Discriminatory hiring practices hurt employers too

Whether intentional or not, discrimination based on race, ethnicity, age, national origin, gender identity or sexual orientation is illegal under the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC. Companies that refuse to reflect on their biases are setting themselves up to fail — they are possibly losing talent because candidates wouldn’t stick through a biased hiring process, all while leaving themselves open to a lawsuit, underlines Moon.

Read more: Signs that your employees are ready to quit

Meanwhile, candidates are trying to hide their identities because their experiences lead them to believe it’s their best shot at getting a job. Greenhouse found that 19% of job seekers have changed their names on their resumes, with 45% doing so to sound more white, 42% to sound younger and 22% to sound like the opposite gender. Thirty percent of job seekers believe they were rejected for a job because of their age.

Moon highlights that take-home assignments may help take identifiers like age and education out of the hiring equation. In fact, underrepresented groups were 59% more in favor than white workers of take-home assignments, according to Greenhouse. Moon encourages employers to follow up on the assignment with a conversation where the candidate can discuss their thought processes and findings.

“This allows the interviewers to dig into how this person thinks through problems,” she says. “It’s a good window into someone’s critical thinking abilities and their past experiences.”

Interviews still need people

As technology continues to evolve, employers may be tempted to throw more of their hiring responsibilities towards AI, possibly to solve the problem of human bias in the interview process — don’t give into that temptation, emphasizes Moon.

Read more: How to keep rejection from stunting your job search

The EEOC has already issued guidance on AI, reiterating that AI tools used in employment decisions are held to the same standards set out by Title VI, which protects employees and candidates from discrimination. In other words, tech can’t absolve employers of discriminatory practices performed by the tool or their team. Moon doesn’t believe the solution to better interviews necessarily lies in more technology, but in an engaged and informed hiring team.

“At the end of the day, when it comes to hiring great talent, you can’t take the human interactivity piece out of it,” says Moon. “Recruiting is ultimately centered on engaging humans and making a commitment together about joining your company.”

This article originally appeared in EBN and was written by Deanna Cuadra Senior Reporter, Employee Benefit News. It is being reposted with permission.

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