Vanishing Without a Trace: Measuring Job Applicant Ghosting Attitudes Across the Stages of Job Pursuit
Date of Award
Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
Dr. Todd Maurer
Dr. Likoebe Maruping
Dr. Wesley Johnston
Ghosting, a phenomenon regularly referred to as ‘no call, no show’ by hiring managers (Cutter, Weber, & Smith, 2022), has become a common trend among job applicants during recruitment (Whitacre, 2019). Job applicant ghosting is defined as an “extreme form of applicant withdrawal in which applicants…completely cease all communication” (Karl, Peluchette, & Neely, 2021: 49) and fail to appear for scheduled appointments, such as interviews, screening activities, or the first day of work. Employers are spending unfruitful time making unanswered or unreturned phone calls, scheduling interviews for individuals that disappear (Driscoll, 2021; Gurchiek, 2019; Express Employment Professionals, 2019a), and offering positions to individuals that vanish before the first day of work (Cutter, Weber, & Smith, 2022). These disappearing applicants can have financial consequences for employers (Cutter, 2018), forcing them to restart the hiring process and delay project progress (Gurchiek, 2019).
While the primary method was the quantitative development and validation of a survey, thirty qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted during the pre-test study to ensure survey content, questionnaire structure, and item wording were appropriate for measuring applicant attitudes. After four waves of data collection, exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were used to analyze the survey data. Using the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1991), this study empirically tests whether applicant ghosting attitudes influence applicant ghosting behavioral intentions.
The main theoretical contribution of this study is the creation of a scale that measures job applicant ghosting attitudes across three stages of job pursuit: extensive search, intensive search, and job choice (Barber, 1998). Findings indicate that applicant ghosting attitudes are best characterized as a single dimension rather than the hypothesized three dimensions. Finally, the practical contribution is a ghosting attitude assessment with easy-to-interpret, built-in respondent feedback, which will allow the instrument to be administered with minimal administrator or participant expertise. The instrument also serves as a diagnostic tool for applicants to reflect on their own ghosting attitudes and to create awareness of possible behavioral modifications that could improve their search strategy. Moreover, the feedback will allow practitioners to create training or coaching interventions that could improve applicant job search effectiveness while minimizing job applicant ghosting.
Davis, Christine, "Vanishing Without a Trace: Measuring Job Applicant Ghosting Attitudes Across the Stages of Job Pursuit." Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2023.
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