Category: News from InterSearch local companies

Ghosting – when candidates simply disappear

Anyone who has ever delved into the world of online dating will have come across the term “ghosting”.

But what does ghosting mean? It refers to the practice of abruptly ending a previously established relationship by ceasing all communication without warning and refusing to respond to communication attempts afterwards. This phenomenon is prevalent on apps such as Tinder, OK Cupid and others. However, according to Alexander Wilhelm, managing partner of InterSearch Executive Consultants, it has already crept into the world of work as “candidate ghosting”.

More cases of ghosting since the pandemic

Wilhelm has observed an increase in the number of cases in which candidates seem to vanish of the face of the earth during the recruiting process. This is most common at the beginning of the process, with candidates not returning phone calls or ignoring emails and text messages. Doris Schmalenberg, a research consultant at InterSearch Executive Consultants, is in close contact with candidates during this phase. She emphasizes that candidate ghosting is by no means a mass phenomenon but acknowledges that there was indeed a notable increase during the pandemic.

Digital recruiting processes encourage a non-committal attitude

Video call interviews were essential during the pandemic and continue to be relevant for candidates working remotely or international applicants. According to Wilhelm the dependence on digital communications has led to a more non-committal attitude among candidates. In his work as an executive search consultant in the industrial sector, he has had to experience several instances of ghosting in recent months. Initially, less experienced candidates in exclusively digital recruiting processes were most prone to ghosting. “However, after a while, I also observed it with experienced managers. It is not really a problem at the top management level – but we do see it with middle management and specialists,” Wilhelm explains. Incidentally, candidate ghosting is not only prevalent among the younger generation, as some might falsely assume.

Ghosting makes candidates look unprofessional

Wilhelm has also heard from colleagues who had candidates not show up for personal interviews with clients without prior notice. An InterSearch client who is Head of HR of a mid-sized company in the software industry reported: “Unfortunately, we now lose software developers and comparable specialists in the recruitment process regularly and more often than 5 years ago. They disappear and simply do not get back in touch. However, this is rarely the case for top-level management positions.” Wilhelm emphasizes: “Of course, this makes a very bad impression and is rather irritating. Therefore close communication is essential during the entire recruiting process. Nevertheless, he also gives second chances if there are plausible reasons why a candidate has missed an appointment. “But you definitely become wary after a while,” he adds. For reasons of data protection, consultants do not have the option of putting unreliable candidates on a kind of “black list”. However, anyone who stands out in a particularly negative light due to unreliability and non-commitment must expect their name to be remembered, especially if there has already been customer contact. Consultants still have little power to prevent candidate ghosting. Experience, gut feeling and watching out for long response times are the only ways to screen for unreliable candidates beforehand, Wilhelm explains.

Reasons for candidate ghosting are difficult to understand

A candidate who has ghosted their recruiter and suddenly becomes unavailable can no longer provide feedback. Therefore, Wilhelm says, it is difficult to draw conclusions about why someone suddenly breaks off contact without warning. Wilhelm suspects a combination of factors leading to increased ghosting: “There is a growing shortage of specialized managers in the industrial sector. There may be a feeling of oversupply of jobs among some candidates, and digital contact with consultants makes it even more noncommittal.” The pandemic has also led to a general decline in the willingness to change jobs.

Rejection at eye level requires courage

Wilhelm finds it alarming that candidates would enter the recruiting process despite a lack of real interest. “As a consultant, I do not trade in commodities. I communicate with people and make an effort to be reliable and transparent.” Rejection should be communicated on an equal footing, whether by mail or phone call – as long as it is honest and direct. “Of course, the consultant might then get in touch to inquire after the reasons. But a candidate should also have the courage to justify their decision.”

Alexander WilhelmAlexander Wilhelm is Managing Partner of InterSearch Executive Consultants, based in the Frankfurt office, and the Europe North&West leader of the Global Infrastructure, Construction & Environment Practice at InterSearch Worldwide.

His core competencies include executive search, executive coaching and corporate succession for national and international companies from several private and public industry sectors, family-owned and medium-sized companies as well as corporations.

Contact:  +49 (0)6174 – 257810,

InterSearch Australia is delighted to announce the appointment of our new partner, Andrew Gemmell.

Andrew has been active in executive search and recruitment, including C-suite and executive leadership roles for 24 years across the banking & financial services, IT, digital, and health sectors.

He co-founded and co-led a highly successful firm for 18 years which established a network of client relationships serviced from offices in Melbourne, Sydney, and Singapore.

Andrew’s strength is to quickly build an understanding of his client’s business and its customers. He focusses on the related adaptive leadership capabilities required of an incoming leader in terms of adapting to customer’s expectations, evolving ways of working, maximising technology levers, and human performance & cultural considerations.  This is all in the context of the strategic, operational, and regulatory considerations of his clients.

Andrew holds a Bachelor of Commerce and is a Certified Level 1 Organisational Coach.

Andrew can be reached on: and 0414 011 726


#AndrewGemmel, #new, #partner, Executive Search, InterSearch, InterSearch Australia, InterSearch Worldwide

Autism in the workplace

Autism In The Workplace: why recognising intersectionality is so important

Creating a workplace where intersectionality is recognised, celebrated, and consciously included is essential to understanding and welcoming autistic employees into your organisation.

Autism has been defined as a neurological difference that can affect how people communicate and interact with the world. In the UK, one in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and, of these, just 16 per cent of adults are in full-time employment. For many in this group, business processes and practices are not as inclusive and accessible as they should be.

Lack of awareness

Research has shown that this is due to a lack of understanding and awareness of neurodiversity in the workplace, as most organisations structurally cater for neurotypical individuals. Considering the high unemployment rates amongst those on the autism spectrum, organisations are missing out on the unique strengths of a large talent pool and the benefits that they can bring to the workplace.

The layered effects of autism and other identities should be built into strategic thinking

To facilitate greater inclusion for those on the autism spectrum in the workplace, it is important to listen to those with the lived experiences to identify what they perceive needs to change. In doing so, organisations can incorporate their thinking into talent attraction and management processes more effectively and sustainably.

Crucially, and to ensure such initiatives and strategies are inclusive of all identities, organisations should also understand the intersections between autism and other diversity strands such as gender, race, sexual orientation, and social mobility. The layered effects of autism and other identities should be built into strategic thinking.

The intersections between autism and gender

There has long been a perception that autism is a male-centred difference, which has meant that women have often struggled to get (successfully) diagnosed. In fact, autism doesn’t differentiate between genders.

“Women tend to be more effective at social-masking than men, so can naturally assimilate themselves into social peer groups and wider society. However, it is important to understand that if an employee is diagnosed later in life, this should not be seen as barrier to their success in the workplace,” explains Oliver Fenghour, autism specialist and founder of Advance: The Disability Consultants.

For those who are diagnosed in later life, it is important that employers do not treat them differently; if diagnosed employees need workplace adjustments then this should be openly discussed in performance management appraisals or informal catch ups with their line manager, and with HR where necessary.

Whilst more women are now being diagnosed with autism compared to previous years, it is through a better understanding of the link between gender and autism that we ensure that workplaces are more inclusive of those on the autism spectrum.

Autism and sexual orientation

Contrary to popular belief, research by the National Autistic Society estimates that just 5% of autistic people identify as asexual. Therefore, it is important to focus on how the neurotypical world can work to affirm and support the LGBT+ autistic community when it comes to disclosing their sexual orientation: “Autistic people typically don’t feel stigmatised in quite the same way as neurotypical people do when it comes to disclosing sexual orientation,” says Fenghour. “They typically identify themselves as having a sexual preference based on a love of a person and not on the gender of that individual.”

The autism narrative has been predominantly white-centred, partially because there are little to no visible ethnically diverse underrepresented autistic role models

Like many minority groups, the intersecting effects of identifying as LGBT+ and autistic can increase the prevalence of mental ill health. Therefore, organisations need to consider how they can incorporate these considerations into their wellbeing support mechanisms.

Autism and race

There is limited research about the experience of autistic people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups. This is mainly due to the stigma that has traditionally been attached to neurodiversity in some racially and culturally diverse communities.

According to research, despite around 100 million people globally identifying as autistic, numerous domiciles fail to produce data on autism. This is often due to cultural and religious beliefs and the misconception that autism is reflective of bad parenting, disruptive behaviour, or a disruption of the mind that can be cured by traditional remedies. As a result, some parents with autistic children or relatives often feel ashamed and blamed by their local communities.

Fenghour highlights that the autism narrative has been predominantly white-centred, partially because there are little to no visible ethnically diverse underrepresented autistic role models: “There has long been this perception that autism is a white male-centred difference. Yet, this fails to acknowledge the frequent intersection between neurodiversity and race, and its subsequent layered effect on experiences of disadvantage and exclusion,” he explains.

As organisations and individuals, it is critical that we work to understand the intersection between autism and race to create a more inclusive environment for all those who identify as autistic.

Autism and social mobility

Access to education is often seen as a strong driver of social mobility. Organisations, however, typically target graduates to increase their autistic talent pipelines. Employing autistic talent solely through higher education avenues fails to factor in autistic talent that don’t have access to academic routes due to differences in socio-economic status.

Although autistic graduates are often a strength for those ‘hard to fill’ STEM roles, organisations need to understand what an autistic talent pipeline might look like for their organisation, what types of roles will be suited to supporting and developing their autistic talent, and the diverse sourcing mechanisms they could use in their recruitment processes.

To ensure those who identify as autistic are fully included in a psychologically safe environment, it is important that all members feel comfortable to maximise their potential in the workplace

“Organisations should explore multiple routes to market for hiring autistic talent, of all ages and backgrounds, looking beyond just higher education institutions,” highlights Fenghour. “If we are to see global autism employment rates increase, there must be a more concerted effort to make the hiring and recruitment processes inclusive of all autistic talent, regardless of their academic and/or socio-economic background.”

There is clearly a long way to go when it comes to mitigating the stigma associated with autism in the workplace – many organisations are only at the start of their inclusion journey. However, to ensure those who identify as autistic are fully included in a psychologically safe environment, it is important that all members feel comfortable to maximise their potential in the workplace.

By creating an environment where the plurality of intersecting identities is recognised, celebrated, and consciously included, organisations will be in a morally and commercially better position to embrace the autistic community’s value long-term.


This article was written for HR Zone by Corine Sheratte, Senior Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, Green Park – the InterSearch Worldwide member in the UK, in collaboration with Oliver Fenghour, Autism Specialist and Founder of At Advance: The Disability Consultants.

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