Why Do Candidates Ghost During the Hiring Process?

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16 Minute Read
Posted by Lori Culler

You have found the perfect candidate to join your agricultural business team - but now they aren’t returning your calls or emails. Why has the job seeker gone MIA? Are you being “ghosted”?

Professional ghosting is not a new occurrence. For decades, employers and job seekers have been ghosting each other. Employers have failed to follow up with candidates and not respond to inquiry calls, while job seekers have stopped responding to calls or emails and may not show up for interviews. However, nowadays it seems candidates' ghosting potential employers has become a bigger concern than ever before.

What is Employer Ghosting?

Ghosting an employer or agriculture recruiting company can involve the following:

    • Not Showing Up for an Interview: This happens when a candidate fails to show up for a scheduled interview and does not call or email to cancel. This can happen during the first initial interview or subsequent interviews that occur during the hiring process.
    • Failing to Show Up for the First Day of Work: Candidates will accept the position but then fail to show up on the start date.
    • Quitting Without Notice: This happens when an employee suddenly leaves the job on their first day or early in the trial period without giving notice or a reason. Unfortunately, this occurs frequently on farms and dairies nationwide when a newly hired employee finds the work more physically demanding or not what they envisioned.

Is Agricultural Recruiting Ghosting Common?

Employers are reeling over the frequency of candidate ghosting. Farmers are especially having a hard time filling labor positions with workers who often ghost after undergoing the hiring process.

In recent research carried out by Indeed.com, it was found that 28% of candidates ghosted employers during 2020 which was a sharp increase from the 18% in 2019.

With 2021 coming to an end, many companies are having a tough time finding suitable employees to fill their needs and ghosting makes things even more difficult. CareerBuilder reported that two-thirds of all hiring managers have experienced candidate ghosting during the application process.

The shift in power has fueled the ghosting phenomenon. It has been decades since job seekers have held greater power than a company. In fact, the power shift is quite extreme. With historically low unemployment rates, candidates are now more selective. They will not hesitate to turn their backs on companies that do not meet their needs, values, or wants.

Why Do Job Seekers Ghost Employers?

Ghosting is going to become even more extreme. Human Resources Director American reports that 83 percent of employers are regularly ghosted, and it appears to be happening across all industries, generations, and experience levels. Agriculture careers are not immune. The report went on to highlight the following reasons why candidates ghost employers:

      • 22% stated that the salary offered did not meet their needs
      • 40% received a better job offer
      • 15% found the benefits package lacking
      • 13% felt they had experienced poor communication with the job recruiter.

Other reasons job seekers ghost employers include

      • Excessively long hiring process
      • Communication was poor
      • Company was not what the candidate expected
      • Candidate is waiting to hear from another employer
      • Some felt they had been lied to or purposefully misled

Let’s examine a few main reasons why candidates ghost companies.

Takes the Easy Way Out

Often a candidate just takes the uncomplicated way out with ghosting. They simply are not comfortable telling the employer they have taken another position. Some felt they had not built an honest communication repertoire with the employer, so they didn’t feel comfortable telling the recruiter they were no longer interested in the position. Often, job seekers just didn’t know what to say so they simply opted to take the effortless way out and ghost the company.

Not a Top Choice

It’s often hard for an employer to realize that sometimes they are simply not a top choice. Most candidates have a list of businesses they are hoping to work for and if your company is not at the top of the list then you could get ghosted during the hiring process. The candidate will take a position with one of their top choices and just avoid showing up for an additional interview or accepting the job offer.

A Lateral Move

A top candidate does not usually leave their current place of employment if the new position is not better, this is especially true for an agriculture executive professional. A lateral move simply lacks the incentive they need to leave their current position. This is one of the main reasons why a recruiter has to actively ‘sell’ the company to the job seeker who is considering making a change.

Selling the company during the hiring process has never been more important, this is especially true for local farmers who are often competing against each other in a particular geographic location to fill similar positions. Posting a basic job description and then conducting a mundane interview is not enough to make a top candidate make a change in a highly competitive job market.

Lack of Advancement Potential

An agricultural professional candidate might not see any serious advancement potential within the farm or ag company. They considered moving to another company as a stepping stone to bigger and better opportunities but after the interview, they now feel they cannot grow with the company.

Poor Company Culture

Job seekers want an environment where they can thrive. If the company’s culture isn’t a correct fit or they feel like their policies will hinder their growth, then many will ghost the hiring manager during the follow-up after the interview. In most cases, they simply don’t know how to explain that the company lacks the proper culture they need for satisfactory mental and professional growth.

Too Many Offers on the Table

A top candidate just has too many offers on the table and yours has gotten lost in the shuffle. If they are juggling three or four job offers, then it's common for the candidate to simply avoid the less desirable offers due to lack of time.

A Way to Counter Offer a Current Employer

It’s common for a candidate to use your job offer to counter-offer their current employer. In some cases, it might not have been a deliberate act. The job seeker was genuinely seeking a new position and once your offer was made, they went to their current employer to share the information. Their current employer then made a counter-offer and they opted to stay.

In other cases, the candidate wanted to show their worth to their current employer by showing a strong offer from another company.

Either way, the candidate opts to ghost the employer instead of explaining themselves.

Understanding How Ghosting Affects Job Seekers

Ghosting does take a toll on some job seekers. A majority of the individuals have a conscience and feel bad or embarrassed by not contacting the recruiter back. Most admit that the act of ghosting is rude, irresponsible, and unprofessional.

Many job seekers state that they will not feel comfortable applying to the same business again if they need to seek another position. They felt their chances of getting hired would be negatively affected due to their ghosting behavior if they were to try to get a job in the future with the same employer.

Despite the negativity of ghosting, most job seekers never experience any fallout from their actions.

Even though employers feel frustrated when applicants ghost them, most do not have any concrete strategies to protect them from ongoing ghost behavior. In some cases, recruiters are starting to keep a record of applicants who fail to show up for interviews or fail to respond to future contact so if the would-be job seeker again applies for a position, then they won’t waste their time going through the hiring process.

What Can Companies Do About Ghosting?

If you are regularly being ghosted by job seekers, then you should think of the function as a red flag. It is time to rethink your entire hiring process. Try to increase contact with the candidate after you make the offer and prior to the start date so you can stop ghosting.

There is nothing more frustrating than expecting a new hire to arrive for their first day of work and they are a no show. Another option, if you are a farmer or agribusiness, is to turn to a qualified agriculture recruiting company to handle your hiring needs.

Maintain Ongoing Communication

Ongoing communication throughout the process can often prevent last-minute ghosting which can leave your company between a rock and a hard spot since you were expecting the employee to start. Instead, you are thrown back to square one and you are out all of the time and money wasted on the new hire who was a no-show.

Recruitment and Hiring Process

Is the ag recruitment and hiring process at your company streamlined and efficient? How long does it take from the first time you reach out to a candidate for an interview until you present them with a job offer? If the process takes too long, then you risk the candidate accepting another offer. Most unemployed individuals do not want to sit around on their laurels and hope a company calls to offer them a position. If you take too long and another company makes an offer, then the job seeker will usually take whichever offer comes in first.

Glassdoor reports that the interview process usually takes an average of 23.7 days. When the process takes longer, the candidates usually think they are not a top contender and will start seeking a position somewhere else.

A Robert Half survey showed that 46 percent of job seekers lose interest if they do not receive an update from a company in one to two weeks post-interview. Most will automatically start to disengage and refocus on another company because they feel the process has stalled and they are no longer a serious contender for the position.

Remember, when hiring for your company - the early bird gets the worm. If you wait too long you risk losing a great candidate to another company.

Pay and Benefits

The job market is highly competitive. Skilled candidates expect acceptable pay and benefits. If your company is falling short in either category, then you might lose the best job seekers to the competition.

Highlight the Positives

Agribusinesses need to focus on the positives the company has to offer a candidate. Showcase the business culture, work/life balance, flexibility, and DEI. Be prepared to answer any questions the job seekers have. Let them know in a positive way what it's like to work for the company and all of the perks.

Responding to Professional Ghosting

With ghosting becoming a frequent occurrence, many recruiters are wondering how to respond. The first thing to remember is to not take it personally. Usually, the candidate ghosting you is carrying out the action for a completely non-personal reason.

Below are a few ways to respond to professional ghosting:

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for a Reason

Transparency is often your best response. Don’t hesitate to ask for a reason for why the candidate is ghosting you. In some cases, there might be a good reason. Most candidates are not trying to frustrate you, but usually have a motivation for not returning your calls or emails. However, if your recruiting process fell short of a candidate's expectations or your company lacks key components to appeal to a job seeker then you want to know. Don’t be afraid to ask for a reason for why the candidate is ghosting you.

Show Understanding

Sometimes things happen in a candidate’s life. You should show understanding and be willing to listen to any reasons presented for the ghosting behavior. Let the candidate know you understand if they have a lot going on and they want to move forward in a constructive way so maybe you should both discuss what has caused the hiring process to grind to a halt.

Recovering From Ghosting

It's hard not to take ghosting personally, but like everything that occurs in the business world, it is a learning experience, and you’ll need to garner what information you can from the process.

  • Showing Frustration: It’s okay to feel frustrated but only allow yourself the luxury for about five minutes and then move on.
  • Analysis: Take time to think of potential reasons for why the ghosting occurred so you can avoid it with future job seekers.
  • Reflection: Consider things you could have done differently and then try to fix any problems when conducting future interviews.

Generation Z and Ghosting

Ghosting appears more commonplace with Generation Z job seekers. Many feel that a weak connection is made during the interview process between the hiring manager and the job seeker. Often the two individuals just don’t feel comfortable which throws up a roadblock in the hiring process, especially if there are generational differences. One party just can’t seem to make a connection with the other. To avoid this situation, the hiring manager can make an effort to make a connection with the younger candidate and help to make them feel more comfortable in the interview.

Close the File

Sometimes, a recruiter just has to throw in the cards and give up trying to reach a candidate who is clearly ghosting them. One of the best ways to stop trying is to send a final email that says you are closing the file due to a lack of response. Be sure to thank the candidate for their time. Interestingly, ghost candidates often contact the company upon receiving a final email.

Problems With the Interview Process

Employers always expect job seekers to arrive on time and be prepared, but many fail to have all of their own ducks in a row. Instead, the hiring manager wastes the candidate's time and seems unprofessional. The candidate might end up feeling like the company simply doesn’t fit them. Feelings of unease make it difficult for any job seeker to want to willingly move forward with the interview process. Instead, they will usually seek a position somewhere else where they feel more important and comfortable.

Some common red flags candidates often list for why they felt the interview took a turn for the worst and they ended up ghosting the employer during follow-ups include:

  • Stood up for phone interviews
  • Late for an in-person interview
  • Feeling rushed during the interview
  • Interviewer does not take the time to get to know the interviewee

Preparing for Interviews

Recruiters who are being ghosted by candidates need to step back to evaluate what they could be doing wrong to receive such treatment. Undoubtedly, it’s hard to be critical of yourself or your performance, but sometimes you can’t place all the blame on the candidate ghosting the company. In many cases, the recruiter fell short during the interview process and sent the ship sinking to the bottom of the sea.

Prior to all interviews, the recruiter and the human resource department should discuss the hiring process. They should schedule an intake meeting with the hiring manager and anyone else who will be conducting the interviews. At the intake meeting, make sure everyone involved in the process is on the same page.

You want to create genuine expectations about everyone’s roles during the interview process. Normally, HR will lead the intake meeting and ensure everyone is sufficiently engaged, trained, and supported before launching the interviews with candidates.

Importance of Core Values

Many people use core values as buzzwords or overly lofty goals. They have no real foundation. However, for job seekers, core values are particularly important. Core values should guide a company throughout not only the hiring process but everything they do. With strong core values, candidates feel secure and satisfied.

Candidates want to work with a business where their skills are valued. This is especially true in the agricultural business where many employees are seeking seasonal work or professional agriculture-focused careers. Many also want the opportunity to gain experience in new things.

The culture and value in a company really do matter to job seekers. GlassDoor’s Mission & Culture Survey found that 22% of job seekers felt that culture and values were the most important components in a job. Only 12% put compensation and benefits ahead of culture and value.

Review Sites Matter

The internet has revolutionized the world in innumerable ways. It has had a massive impact on business ideas and how job seekers view various companies. Review sites such as Indeed and Glassdoor allow employees and candidates to leave reviews of the companies with which they have interacted.

Unfortunately, many companies are failing to sit up and take notice of the review sites. Bad reviews can have a hazardous impact on an employer seeking skilled candidates to fill their positions. Often a job seeker will interview and then start to research the company. If they come across a poor employee or candidate reviews about the company, then they might start ghosting.

Employers need to take the time to respond to negative online reviews. A response to a negative review shows leadership and that the company is not avoiding the situation. Eventually, by responding to negative reviews, a company might overcome a bad reputation, so occurrences of candidate ghosting are reduced.

What to Do When a Candidate Ghosts You

There is no approach that is written in stone about what to do when a candidate ghosts you, but we have a few suggestions that might help.

  • Send an email
  • Leave a voicemail message
  • Keep a record of no-shows and ghosters for future reference.
  • Cut your losses and move on to the next job seeker.
  • Explore ways to improve your hiring process

Prevent Ghosting

If you want to prevent ghosting, then you need to provide a positive experience for candidates. If a job seeker has a pleasant experience with your company during the hiring process, then they’ll be less likely to ghost.

Showcase the Employee Experience

When you advertise for the job, be sure to highlight the perks of the position. Let the job seeker know what’s great about your company and why they will want to work for you. List the benefits and perks but also give additional nuggets of information that truly show the reasons why an employee would want to work for your company - what sets you apart from the competition.

Don’t Be Afraid to Over-Communicate

Some recruiters worry about over communicating during the hiring process, but communication is crucial. You should keep the candidate up to date on all developments in the job process. Don’t leave them waiting for your phone call or email.

Make a Quick Decision

If the hiring process takes too long, then you risk losing an outstanding candidate to the competition. Try to move quickly with the hiring process and notify the candidate as soon as you reach a decision. Most job seekers appreciate speed and a streamlined hiring process.

Respectful Interview

Always conduct a respectful interview where you ask tough and meaningful questions. Also, show an interest in your candidate. You want them to feel comfortable and at ease during the interview.

Staying in Touch with New Hires

A company suffers a huge loss when a new hire fails to show up for their first day of work. It can impact the bottom line and make it more difficult for your existing employees who will have to shoulder more work while you seek a new hire.

After you have hired the candidate and picked a start date, stay in touch with them along the way. Usually, a new hire does not show up because they either take a better offer or they decide to stay with their current employer. The excitement of a new job or change can start to wane, and they may rethink leaving their current position.

Staying in touch with the new candidate helps maintain the level of excitement and reaffirm the candidate's commitment.


Ghosting is unpleasant and no one likes it. Employers, including farmers and ag businesses, are now scrambling to find suitable candidates to meet their business needs.

Unfortunately, ghosting will continue to happen but there are ways to reduce the likelihood of it becoming a problem for your business.

If you operate a farm or agribusiness then you can turn to the skilled help of an expert AgHires Recruiter to help you prevent candidates from ghosting.

AgHires is a trusted leader in recruiting and job advertising. We serve the agriculture, agribusiness, food production, food processing, produce, and horticulture industries. Our skilled staff of recruiters align recruitment strategies to meet the needs of the current market and build a solid candidate pool to streamline the hiring process from start to finish. Contact us to learn more.

Discover why employees have started to regularly ghost agricultural employers and learn what ag recruiters can do to avoid ghosting.
Lori Culler

Lori Culler

Lori (Lennard) Culler is the founder of AgHires, providing recruiting services and job advertising for the agriculture industry across the US. Lori grew up on her family's 3rd generation potato, tomato, and grain farm operating in Southeast Michigan and Northern Indiana. Her work in human resources began outside of agriculture and while hiring for her family’s own operation quickly realized the lack of resources in our industry to find and attract talent which inspired her to launch AgHires. In addition to running AgHires, she works to provide education to both employers hiring and candidates looking for jobs.