Solving Candidate Ghosting With Micro-Commitments

It’s likely true that candidate ghosting is higher than it’s been in a while. But we’re not going to waste our time blaming the pandemic or tight labor markets or unemployment benefits; there always have been, and always will be, people who abruptly stop returning your calls or quit without any explanation. 

With micro-commitments, however, we can weed out likely ghosters and ensure that we expend the bulk of our recruiting efforts on more committed candidates.

The Power of Micro-Commitments

Micro-commitments are a powerful tool in sales and marketing. They’re essentially small decisions or steps that prospects must take to move deeper into a sales funnel. 

Gaining a micro-commitment might entail asking a sales prospect to watch a short video before scheduling an appointment or getting them to answer a few short questions. It’s a way of accumulating a bunch of small “yeses” and commitments before asking the prospect to buy something big. It’s also a way to weed out prospects who really aren’t serious about moving any further in the sales process.

We can apply the same micro-commitment techniques to our recruiting efforts with two simple steps.

Step 1: Build an Attitude Statement Into Your Job Ads

The study ”Hiring For Attitude” reveals when candidates fail, it’s largely (89% of the time) for poor attitudes, not a lack of technical skills. So if we’re going to greatly reduce ghosting with micro-commitments, we want to first weed out candidates who don’t have the right attitudes. To do that, we need to actually put a sentence into our job ads that defines a few of the attitudes that make someone a high performer at our company.

This sentence needn’t be complicated. Here are a few examples:

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  • High performers at ACME have a collaborative and team-focused attitude.
  • The attitudes that define successful people at ACME are self-motivation and a strong desire to be the best.
  • Are you upbeat, positive, and optimistic? Then you’ve got some of the attitudes necessary to succeed at ACME.

Step 2: Give Candidates a Small Test

We need an attitude statement in our job ads because we’re now going to use that as a micro-commitment test. Either during or immediately after the application process, you’re going to ask every candidate to complete a simple micro-commitment: “In a sentence or two, please describe an attitude you have that would make you successful at ACME. (Feel free to reread our job ad to get a better feel for our organization).”

Because you wrote an attitude statement into your job ad, this should be an incredibly easy question to answer. However, it does take a few minutes to reread the ad and write a sentence or two. And that’s typically enough of a micro-commitment to weed out candidates who aren’t really serious about working for your company. It’s also a rudimentary but important test of reading comprehension and attention to detail.

For many recruiters, the scariest part of using micro-commitments is the idea that we’re actively eliminating candidates. Too many think that the job of recruiting is to get warm bodies into the funnel, but that’s completely wrong. The best recruiters, much like the best salespeople, want to spend the bulk of their time with the most qualified and likely-to-commit prospects. Which would you rather have: 900 candidates where 15 turn into new hires or 200 candidates where 40 turn into new hires?

In an era where candidates can apply to dozens of jobs with a single click, you have to exert extra effort to ensure that those candidates are viable. Yes, it can be a little scary at first to chase away some candidates with a micro-commitment, but as you see your efficiency increase, you’ll see the efficacy of this approach.

Mark Murphy is the CEO of Leadership IQ and a New York Times bestselling author. His books include Hiring For Attitude, Hundred Percenters, HARD Goals, and Managing Narcissists, Blamers, Dramatics and More. Mark’s groundbreaking leadership studies have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune, Forbes, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and U.S. News & World Report. Mark has also appeared on CNN, NPR, CBS News Sunday Morning, and ABC’s 20/20. He’s trained leaders at the United Nations, Harvard Business School, Microsoft, Mastercard, and hundreds more.

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