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recruiter experiencing candidate ghosting

About The Author

Jane has considerable experience in the world of international education. She first became involved in teacher and educational leader recruitment while working in Abu Dhabi. Over eight years, Jane worked with colleagues and agencies organizing extensive recruitment campaigns around the globe. Today, Jane uses her knowledge and experience to support schools and organizations in the design and fulfilment of their recruitment goals.

Imagine the excitement of eight international recruiters, tasked with securing the highest quality of professionals for a nation’s newest educational commitment, arriving in the United States and gearing up for four days of interviews with prospective teachers. I remember it well: our team was on a mission – inspired and passionate in our commitment to the organization’s goal. Working closely with the recruitment agency, preparing the paperwork, organizing interview schedules, reviewing expectations and interview guidelines, and studying applicant details.

What could go wrong?

Enter the candidate ghosting phenomenon – that’s what. Back then, we referred to such occurrences as mere “candidate no-shows.” Today, “ghosting,” encapsulates it perfectly (the abrupt end to all communication, no contact, no explanation.)

As a recruiter in 2012, my experience with ghosting was that teachers ceased all communication days, or even hours, before the scheduled interview or in fact at any time afterwards during the recruitment/onboarding process. To be honest, regardless of when, the experience was always confusing, frustrating, and disheartening.

Since then, I’ve tried to make sense of candidate no-shows or ghosting. Why would prospective teachers pull out at the last minute given the time and energy exerted in securing the interview?

As an educator myself, I wrestled with the idea that a fellow teacher would act in, what I considered to be, such an unprofessional manner. I’ll admit that perusing recruitment journals and reflecting with colleagues has helped and I’ll share what I’ve learned below.

The reality is that international teacher recruitment is a competitive market. The proliferation of private schooling around the globe means that many organizations are actively and simultaneously seeking the same thing: highly qualified teacher professionals.

This is good news for teachers seeking international experience, as opportunities abound, yet this is not-so-good news for organizations and recruitment agencies.

I’ve learned that three influences are potentially at play here.

  1. On one hand, inflation is driving up the cost of just about everything with the result that any teacher considering an international posting is paying careful attention to the employment package – salary, benefits (such as accommodation, allowances, relocation expenses, end-of-employment earnings), professional learning as well as career growth opportunities. The bottom line is that if the package doesn’t add up or seem attractive, teachers may simply withdraw and move on to a more appealing option.
  2. On the other hand, research confirms that efficacy is as important to teachers in North America as it is to their colleagues around the globe, meaning that teachers place a priority on classroom teaching conditions and school culture. In a world of ubiquitous social media sharing, teacher candidates can not only hear about an organization’s commitment to education and teaching support, but they can also witness it firsthand. Evidence of crowded classrooms, unrealistic expectations, inequitable practices, lack of resources and/or professional support often result in teacher candidates rethinking their fit with an organization and exploring other options.
  3. Finally, it’s possible that some candidates simply get cold feet. For some, accepting a teaching position in another (and often unfamiliar) part of the world offers excitement, adventure, and a chance to grow professionally. For others, and especially those with families, the idea of packing up and relocating to a new part of the world is a significant risk. My experience is that the further they advance through the recruitment process, the more consuming the hypothetical horribles become and they withdraw completely.

While I now have a better understanding of why some teacher candidates might suddenly pull out of the recruitment process, I am still befuddled as to why they just cease all communication rather than politely stating that their intentions have changed.

I know how many hours recruitment agencies put into ensuring that the best candidates are ready for the interview, and I know well the excitement and commitment an organization’s team brings to the process.

Further, I now know that a candidate’s sudden and unexpected silence creates an unfortunate dissonance to the entire process. I guess there is more research and reflection to do!