Companies are seeing an increase in the number of ‘ghost’ interviews with candidates in a tight job market

Naz Kullar believed she had a good fit for her team at Trotman Auto Group after a successful pre-screen chat late last year. The HR candidate was positive, enthusiastic and lived nearby. All signs pointed to a quality rental, so no need to wait.

“You need to move quickly in this type of market,” said Ms. Kullar, director of people and culture at Trotman, which has 11 dealerships in the Lower Mainland outside of Vancouver.

A few days later, she reached out on the phone, then when no one answered, she tried to arrange an interview through the Applicant Tracking System, but never heard back.

Ms Kullar was surprised the communication ended without an explanation, however, ‘ghosting’, a term originating from online dating, is something she now sees more often.

And these are not just presets. Two words Ms Kullar is used to hearing from managers are “no show”. Candidate ghosting is common in all positions at Trotman, she said, estimating that about a third of those interviewed disappear, while some leave without notice shortly after starting.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Ms. Kullar, who brought more than two decades of human resources experience to Trotman when she joined the group in early 2020.

According to Statistics Canada, the number of job vacancies for all industries in the first quarter of 2022 is 890,385. Although down slightly from the 915,545 job vacancies in the previous quarter, the current figure is considerably higher than in first quarter of 2021, when the agency reported 553,480 vacancies.

Anthony Mantione, senior economist at the Labor Market Information Council, an Ottawa-based nonprofit, said Canada is experiencing one of the tightest labor markets he’s seen, with a unemployment lower than pre-pandemic for all age and gender groups.

Since similar data was available, he said: “The number of people who want to work, but cannot find a job is the lowest on record.”

One way to assess the labor shortage, he said, is to compare the number of unemployed to job vacancies. In March, there were 0.8 unemployed for every job opening in British Columbia and Quebec. Statistics Canada said the national average that month was 1.2 unemployed for every job vacancy.

Looking ahead, while construction is going well, Mr. Mantione said, there is “a lot of short-term uncertainty” for other areas of employment about the impacts of the pandemic that will be transitory. For example, it is not yet known whether people will continue to dine and travel as they did before COVID-19, with the possibility that central banks will raise interest rates.

Even though a potential hiring freeze or layoffs looms on the horizon, he suspects that labor supply will remain weak and companies could face a skills shortage, which some companies have reported. during the pandemic.

He added that if we enter a recession, there will always be the challenge of whether job seekers have the right skills for openings.

A survey by business advisory firm Robert Half of more than 800 senior executives in Canada at the end of 2021 found that 43% of respondents said ghosting is more common today than there was. two years.

This resembles the experience of the managers of the Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Since reopening in August 2021, after a lengthy COVID-19-induced shutdown, Keith Simmonds, the station’s general manager and vice-president, has said, on average, about 40% of applicants ghost interviews. Mr Simmonds said that number had increased by around 35% compared to before the pandemic.

The hotel and the water park had to hire hundreds of new employees. After being closed for nearly 550 days by several waves, only around 500 workers have returned. They are approaching 800 employees now, with a target of 875 employees.

“People are working extra shifts and multitasking,” Simmonds said, adding that they pay close attention to the mental and physical health of their employees to avoid burnout.

In an effort to address the ghosting issue, Anne Marie Malleau, human resources director at Great Wolf Lodge, said a recruiter was overbooking interviews during peak hiring times, with three to four scheduled for the same time slot. half an hour, knowing that some candidates would win. t show.

Facing its own hiring challenges, the Big White ski resort near Kelowna, BC, has increased its payroll by 12% over the past year. Michael J. Ballingall, senior vice president of Big White, said the station was down about 30% from its usual summer membership, which normally hovers around 280.

Mr Ballingall said ghosting is becoming very common now and part of everyday life, “it happens all the time”, he said.

About 40% of applicants currently go through shadow interviews with Big White, he said. Previously, they received 10 applications for a mountain bike trail clearing position. “Now you’re lucky if you get five applications for 10 jobs,” he said.

To make matters more difficult, he said, the company struggled last year with half of its regular winter staff (normally around 1,200) due to a lack of foreign workers. temporary workers as well as employees through the working holiday visa scheme, which attracts labor from Australia. , New Zealand and United Kingdom.

Back at Trotman, Ms Kullar said the company had changed things up and was now displaying salaries in job postings to try to improve hiring. She said Trotman has about 40 positions they are looking to fill, and that’s the average number of vacancies since the start of this year.

While some workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic may have taken the time to retrain and move on to another field, economist Mr Mantione said labor supply issues hard hit sectors could also come from companies trying to grow faster than the market. can adjust.

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