You're probably familiar with the term "ghosting" as it applies to dating: you hang out with a cute so-and-so and you're sure they'll call soon about next steps, so to speak. But you don't hear from them the next day, or the following . . . which turns into a week, and then a month, and you finally take the hint: you've been ghosted.
Known as "professional ghosting," more and more companies are actually doing this to applicants — even after going through interviews (sometimes multiple rounds!) that seem promising. The candidate's hopes are dashed in agonising slow motion as they wait in silence for a call or email that never comes. It's incredibly frustrating and disappointing, as even a quick note to say, "Thanks but we're going in a different direction" would provide a little closure.
So why would a hiring manager do this? We asked Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume, to weigh in on this practice. If you've been ghosted, here are five things that could explain why.
- You didn't follow up. You might not think that gratitude matters, but surveys have found that the majority of hiring managers expect to receive a thank-you note after conducting an interview — and failure on the candidate's part to do so can hurt their chances of landing the job. Be sure to follow up with each interviewer within 24 hours of your meeting.
- They didn't think you were interested. According to a survey by Come Recommended, this is the most common mistake job seekers make. If you're interested in the role and the organisation, clearly state this during your interview and demonstrate your enthusiasm during the interview and follow-up process. Don't leave them guessing.
- The job opening was put on hold. It's not uncommon for a hire to get placed on hold. This can happen for a number of reasons: the department's budget has changed, the team is still debating the requirements for the role, or key members of the hiring team are not available to interview you at the moment.
- Someone dropped the ball. It happens. An email gets lost, a recruiter thought they sent a follow-up and didn't actually do so, the lines of communication got crossed between the hiring manager and recruiter, or another, more pressing hire has taken precedence. Whatever the case, there's not much you can do except follow up with your primary point of contact. I recommend following up once a week for up to four weeks or until someone responds, whichever comes first.
- You lost the job offer to an internal candidate. Some companies have been known to interview candidates when they already have a contender currently on their payroll. Unfortunately, there's nothing you could have done differently to alter this outcome. If you really like the company, still want to work there, and had a positive interview experience, don't be afraid to follow up. There may be another opportunity down the road that's the perfect fit.