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Eliminating Professional Gaslighting

Career Tips

Staffing is always a wild ride, and this year was no exception. Phrases like ghosting and quiet quitting flowed freely within recruiting, talent acquisition and people operations. Then another word made headlines as Merriam-Webster named gaslighting as its word of the year in 2022.  Solidly in 2023, the candidate-employer relationship continues to be complicated.

Most often we associate gaslighting as manipulating someone into making them question their own reality. Yet, gaslighting isn’t always openly abusive relationships or producing noteworthy headlines. Professional manipulation occurs every day by employers, employees, and applicants.

There is a delicate pas-de-deux that employers and applicants do in the hiring process. Each cling to their best interests, divulging just enough information to keep the dance going. Shields are up as applicants attempt to convince future employers of their intentions and past compensation. Likewise, prospective employees are on guard to make sure their offer is the best they can get.  Even with the best intentions, both sides have their own interests at stake.

Thus, it is our job as recruiters to take a step back, ask the right questions, and pay attention to our clients’ and candidates’ behavior. We are brokering clarity, intentions, and ultimately the compromise that occurs when an offer is made, and a candidate accepts.

There is no set of right questions to ask candidates about their interest in a job. In fact, the questions themselves may not be the most important part of the process. The follow-up behavior by candidates (and often clients) says a lot more about the interest level and seriousness of both parties than any question can uncover. Likewise, scheduling and rescheduling of interviews is a good indicator that the position not a priority.

Employers and candidates should both take advantage of their staffing partners. More than ever, we know that it’s not about what it said, it’s about what is being done.  It is in our best interest to recognize red flags (we don’t get paid if a new employee doesn’t make it through their guarantee period!) from the get-go.

Ultimately, everyone is looking for a simple, streamlined, and quick hiring process. It is no small feat to orchestrate this process internally without dedicated support. As your partner we organize interested candidates while also directing a timely hiring process.

As we prepare for 2024 to unfold, we need to get back to basics. We need to expel quiet quitting, ghosting, and gaslighting from the hiring conversation. We can do this by starting the process the right way: setting expectations early and ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to achieve their best outcome.

View our recent case studies and gain an even greater perspective.