Stop ghosting

This template can give your company a better reputation with job-seekers

Communicating well with job candidates can help you better hire and retain employees. Here's how to do it.
This template can give your company a better reputation with job-seekers
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Banks Benitez is the founder of Smart Workweek, helping businesses transition to the 4-day workweek and was the cofounder and CEO of Uncharted, an entrepreneruial accelerator.

I’m always surprised when a job applicant, whether they got the job or not, shows appreciation for basic updates throughout the hiring process. At my company, Uncharted, we were doing little more than keeping them in the loop about where we stood, our next steps, and if our timeline had to change—things we considered basic.

Most companies aren’t as transparent about what’s happening behind the scenes, and job applicants are left in the dark. Research from Glassdoor says that ghosting job applicants are up by 98% from pre-pandemic levels. I’ve commiserated with dozens of talented humans who were ghosted without communication on the next steps for a job they’ve applied for or interviewed for.

Companies often believe they hold the power in the hiring process, leaving gaps in their communication with prospective candidates. This blindspot can turn off candidates and undermine a company’s most important activity: successful hiring.

If a company ignores candidates, how do they communicate with employees once hired? It’s reasonable to assume that a company’s hiring process represents its day-to-day operations. In the words of Maya Angelou, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”

4 steps to improve candidate communications

Improving the simple blocking and tackling of candidate-facing communications is needed to demonstrate your commitment to building a world-class company and delivering on your ambitious strategy. Here are four steps that hiring teams and managers can take to be viewed as the top 1% in candidate-facing communication.

Step 1: Set up a candidate communication plan

Candidate-facing communication often breaks down because the hiring team hasn’t defined a timeline and process that includes how and when to communicate with candidates. Here’s a template to help and questions the hiring team can consider:

  • Considering each step in the hiring process, what will the candidates experience?
  • What questions might candidates have, and how might we proactively address them?
  • What opportunities exist to sell our company, our team, and our values by the way we communicate, set expectations, and follow through?
  • What might make this experience—even when candidates are rejected—one where they believe they were treated fairly and with respect?

Step 2: Acknowledge their application and set expectations

Build in an auto-reply or simple confirmation email to verify the candidate’s application. Here’s an example:

Hi [name],

Thank you for applying for [role title]. This email confirms that we have received your application, which we’ll review in the coming weeks.

I know what it’s like to be on the other side of the hiring process, so I wanted to provide some next steps, so you know what to expect.

August 1-14 : Our team will review applications

August 15: By August 15, you’ll receive an update on your next steps

August 15-30: Interview rounds

August 30 - September 7: Checking references

August 8-10: Making offers

We have a small team reviewing a lot of applications, so we won’t be able to jump on the phone until the interview process itself. I hope these links will help with any initial questions you may have. (List links in bullets with titles that represent key questions)

Thanks for applying! We are excited to review your application and learn more about you!

Signature (include email and phone)

Step 3: Update candidates if the timeline changes

Hiring timelines often change, but candidates need to be made aware. Share the shift, give an updated timeline, and repeat as needed.

Step 4: Provide more feedback than required

At Uncharted, we provided detailed feedback if candidates made it to the interview round but weren’t selected. This feedback was often a few paragraphs and struck a balance between clearly communicating our final decision and giving constructive, specific, actionable feedback about ways they might improve.

Your company will be in the top 1% by providing basic communication updates. As a result, your reputation will spread, get more applications, and be able to onboard more excellent candidates.