What comes to mind when you hear the word ghost? You might envision an ethereal being, moving silently and vanishing without a trace. But in the professional world, we’ve been witnessing a new type of ‘ghost’: candidates who disappear mid-process. And, believe me, it’s not nearly as fascinating.

As a recruiter, I’ve experienced ‘ghosting’ from candidates and grown to expect it from time to time. They don’t view a scheduled conversation or meeting with a recruiter as a priority. Lately, the practice is also occurring later in the recruiting process. I invest in a meaningful exchange with the candidate to understand their career goals and aspirations, speak at length with them about an opportunity, communicate excitement about their candidacy, and commit to moving them forward to the client interview stage. I confirm the interview, prepare the candidate, and they don’t show.

I am witnessing an escalating trend of candidates ‘ghosting’ confirmed interviews with clients. Recruiters work hand in hand with client and candidate to arrange interviews, looking forward to their assessment of the meeting. When the next contact is the client wondering why the candidate never showed, we are confused, embarrassed, and disappointed. No email, no call, no heads up. The silence reverberates louder than any criticism. An equally puzzling aspect is the investment the candidate made in the process with now no chance of a return.

You might ask, “Jennifer, why does it matter?” It’s more than just a schedule glitch; it’s a domino effect that spirals into more significant implications. As recruiters, we’re caught in an awkward position, left to make excuses or try to salvage a situation we had no hand in creating. The trust we’ve built with our client becomes shaky ground.

What’s more damaging, though, is the impact on the candidate’s reputation. The professional world is smaller than we realize. When you ghost an interview, you send out the message, “I am unreliable.” And in a world where reliability is as valuable as skill, it’s a reputation that follows you around, potentially hindering future opportunities.

I pen this as a passionate plea. Let’s break the cycle. If you can’t make it to an interview, let us know. A simple heads up allows us to adjust and shows respect for everyone’s time. We’re all here to help each other grow professionally, and communication is the foundation of that growth.

So, let’s replace ‘ghosting’ with communication and respect. It’s a small change, but the effects are profound. We’re all part of the same professional ecosystem, and its health depends on every one of us.