Vanishing Act

Ramya Srinivasan, an HR manager at an IT Services firm, is worried. Two candidates for the core IT function to whom offer letters were issued have vanished, and remain untraceable. Being in charge of recruitments and induction, Srinivasan has to find substitutes in a short span of time, a mighty task considering scouting and finalising prospective employees is a long-drawn process.

‘Ghosting’, wherein potential employees simply vanish after an initial dialogue with a company, is a growing issue in India Inc and leads to lost projects, delays in business delivery and wastage of man-hours.

In India, ghosting is as high as 35%, which implies that out of every 10 potential hires, about 3-4 people ghost the employer, says Umashanker Kandaswamy, COO and joint director, Bruhat Insights Global, a company that uses artificial intelligence in HR.

He says ghosting occurs either because the candidate has found a better job offer, or has been retained by his previous employer with greater bonuses and perks. “The problem can range from a candidate not showing up for a scheduled interview to not appearing on the first day of work,” says Kandaswamy. Thus keeping the HR managers and the company waiting.

“India has been experiencing labour shortages with unfilled job positions across industries that causes lots of impediments to both large businesses and start-ups. Even with an increase in job offers, there is a parallel increase in candidate no-shows post offers,” says Saundarya Rajesh, founder and president of executive search firm, Avtar Group.

Neeraj Sharma, senior director – HR, at predictive supply chain start-up FourKites, says ghosting is occurring more frequently as often employers do not have time to engage in a thorough manner with potential associates. “Low engagement level with prospective candidates can cause potential candidates to miss out on the big picture and the upside of the opportunity. The candidates then treat it as yet another me-too career opportunity.”

In India, the average cost to hire ranges from Rs 25, 000- 50,000 per candidate and includes fees to consultants, costs of subscribing to databases, retainerships to search firms, etc. Even one candidate who ghosts, costs a company a huge amount, apart from of course inflicting a black mark on his/her future job interviews.

Ghosting is said to produce multiple losses in the recruitment sector, to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore per year. Thus there is a pressing need for companies and HR managers to curb ghosting and the resultant losses, feel experts.

They say that ghosting needs to be addressed in a systematic manner. According to Sharma, continuous engagement with selected candidates is necessary. “There is also a need for regular check-ins to keep a tab on the alignment of the candidate with the opportunities at the company and to evaluate the training needs and requirements. And finally providing a superior on-boarding experience helps in building a candidate’s attachment with the company and minimises surprises.”

Rajesh says artificial intelligence (AI) can tackle ghosting as it can detect several layers of information that emerges from a single conversation with a potential candidate. “But such data is possible only when human insights also combine with AI to build a valuable relationship. The interviewer’s innate skill in having a data-rich conversation with the candidate is also needed.”

According to Kandaswamy, they have devised an AI tool that can correlate new candidate profiles with existing data. “The AI tool now has 166 data points that will be collected from each candidate, including competency scoring, identity cloud capture, keyword cloud capture and prior offer acceptance patterns. Apart from this, the data on each new candidate interaction will be fed back into the system, which will keep the tool updated on new trends. The current accuracy score for the tool is 95%. It will fill the gap of candidate information, helping companies make the right decision while hiring.”

Rs 1K cr Per year losses incurred in the recruitment sector

Rs 25-50K Per candidate is the average cost for a hiring company

35% Potential hires in India ghost the employer, implying of every 10, 3-4 people are a no-show

This article was published in DNA on 20th September, 2018.
Vanishing Act