Consider each step of the process and what overt or inadvertent messages you may be sending to your prospective employees along the way. For example, when you’re in the resume collection phase you can set up a simple and thoughtful auto responder that says, “Thank you for submitting your resume. You can expect to hear from us by (approximately date X) about the next steps in our process.” This lets every prospective employee know that your organization is one that takes the time to consider their perspective, and respond accordingly.
We know that sometimes things can go awry during a challenging interview and that saying “no” in any context is hard. However, every prospective employee should know that your organization is one that shows respect for their applicants by responding to communication. The trend toward “ghosting” has become more and more common, and this happens on both sides; employers ghost candidates and job seekers ghost employers, too. No one seems to be immune from this bad behavior.
As an employer, strive to keep the lines of communication open. Receipt of resumes should be acknowledged; that’s what auto-responders are for, at the least. Following all interviews, respond with general messages to all candidates individually letting them know what the next steps in the process are. If you will not be advancing them, let them know quickly that you will be moving forward without them, and offer the necessary closure. Create an internal timeline for this process, and adhere to it. Recall that even when you don’t make a hire, you’re in the business of building relationships and cultivating a reputation, and that is often just as valuable as the hire that you’re making. None of us, individually or organizationally, can afford to damage our reputation by being known for ghosting prospective candidates.