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Ghosted by a job candidate during interview process? Here's how hospitals can avoid it

With a robust job market, ghosting is a problem across many industries, but in healthcare it compounds an already frustrating shortage of physicians.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Recruiters in healthcare already have difficulty filling positions due to the physician shortage across the industry, but that difficulty is made worse by a uniquely 20th Century phenomenon: Ghosting.

It originated as a social term associated with dating: Ghosting occurs when someone doesn't show up for a date, and then vanishes, unable to be reached again by the other party. 

In workplace settings, however, ghosting is when a candidate doesn't show up for an interview or call back a hiring manager. It can also refer to when a new hire doesn't show up on his or her first day of work and can't be reached, or even an established employee not showing back up to work without even giving notice.


Ghosting happens more often when there's a strong job market, and right now the market is healthy. In fact, there are more job openings than people looking for work -- a first. The quit rate is high and unemployment is low.

Maureen Hoersten, chief operating officer of LaSalle Network, a national staffing and recruiting firm, said ghosting can be particularly troubling in the healthcare industry due to the high turnover rate and large number of positions that need to be filled.

"Ghosting doesn't help these existing hiring issues in the industry," said Hoersten, "which is why hiring managers in healthcare need to focus on building out a large talent pipeline, as well as focusing on a retention strategy. Beyond the interview process, employees are quitting without notice, and turnover can cost $58,400 to $200,000 in a healthcare organization."

Job seekers are taking risks with their careers, aware that there are many open positions from which they can choose. They also don't have the same loyalty to companies as did previous generations.

"They have a short-term lens on their career because when the economy slows down, their resume will look like that of a job-hopper, which isn't attractive to a hiring company," said Hoersten. "Oftentimes, companies favor longevity on a resume, and when candidates or employees ghost, they are jeopardizing long-term career success.

"Plus, people don't like confrontation," she said. "They want to avoid it at all costs, and it's easier to not respond saying they've taken another job than having to explain themselves."


The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that in August the healthcare sector added more than 25,000 jobs -- jobs the industry is struggling to fill -- and also posted an average voluntary turnover rate of 20.6 percent in 2017. 

There are a few things an interviewer can do to keep the applicant engaged and potentially prevent them from ghosting. One, said Hoersten, is to shorten the interview process and remove any redundancies. In a tight labor market, companies can't afford to have a long interview process.

"Talent is moving fast," she said. "If there are various people involved in the interview process, be sure that everyone understands their role and that their perspective is critical for the decision-making process."

Another good strategy is to let applicants know it's okay if they're interviewing elsewhere. It's okay if they change their mind and opt for another organization. But hiring managers should make them feel comfortable enough to communicate that back to them so they can move on with their search.

"Hiring managers should share past experiences and stories of when they've been ghosted in the past and how it's impacted them, the team or the company," said Hoersten.


Hoersten offered advice for both the hospitals looking to hire new talent and job seekers alike.

"Keep interviewing to keep your pipeline full so that if you get ghosted, you have other strong candidates to reach out to," said Hoersten. 

She also advised job applicants to not burn bridges in the business world. You never know who you're going to run into down the road. 

"Who you ghost could be a potential client," she said. "If you send an email, that will suffice. Simply explain that you're choosing another position and give them feedback as to why." 


These strategies won't work every time, of course; nobody can force someone to respond. But hiring organizations are having some success keeping applicants from vanishing by being open, honest and efficient -- if only because being ghosted can literally cost a company thousands of dollars, and it wastes the time of all those involved in the interview process.

Twitter: @JELagasse
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