How to deal with ghosting in a job interview

ghostingIf you think ghosting is just for dating, think again. Ghosting has entered the workforce, and it can be a big problem for job seekers – and for hiring managers, as well.

For those who don’t know exactly what ghosting means, it’s ending a relationship without explaining why and refusing to communicate. In other words, one member of the relationship disappears like a ghost.

Say, you go for an interview or two. It looks like everything is going well, and they’re interested in hiring you. But then you don’t hear anything from the hiring manager. Nothing at all.

On the opposite end, someone interviews for a job opening and appears interested. But when the hiring manager contacts them, they never return the call or email.

In the business world – and in personal relationships, as well – ghosting is just plain inconsiderate, unprofessional and rude. And it’s happening more and more.

Research firm surveyed attitudes toward ghosting

In fact, a survey of 507 full-time employees conducted by B2B research firm Clutch in 2018 gives an idea of job seeker and hiring manager attitudes towards ghosting. It discovered that:

  • 35% of job seekers feel it’s very unreasonable for a company to ghost an applicant.
  • 41% believe, however, that it’s reasonable to ghost a company.
  • 48% of job seekers who stated that ghosting is reasonable think that it’s best to do it during the early stages of the interview process.
  • Among common reasons for ghosting are the fact that the job seeker:
  1. Accepted another job offer (30%).
  2. Never heard back from the hiring manager (23%).
  3. Decided that the position was not a good match for them (19%).
Ghosting is not acceptable

In spite of the results of the survey, ghosting is just not acceptable. But how does one handle a situation, so they don’t become a ghost – or have to deal with one?

If you’re a job seeker, one of the last questions to ask in an interview, is “When should I expect to hear from you?”

If you haven’t heard by the time they mentioned, follow up with a phone call or email, something to the effect of “I really enjoyed learning more about the company and the job during our interview last week (or whenever). I’m definitely still interested and would like to know if you’ve made a decision yet. Please let me know.”

If on the other hand, you’ve found another job or decided after the interview that the position you applied for wasn’t a good fit, by all means let the hiring manager know as soon as possible. And offer a brief explanation of why. There’s no point to waste any more of their time, and ending the interview process for that particular job allows you to concentrate on other opportunities.

Write an email or even a snail mail letter something like this,

Dear Hiring Manager (Use their name),

Thank you very much for taking the time to interview me last week.

I really enjoyed meeting you and learning more about the position and what it’s like to work at your company. I just wanted to let you know, however, that I’ve decided to pursue a different route. I don’t want to use anymore of your time and hope you will be able to find a suitable candidate.

I also hope that we will meet again sometime in the future.


Your name

Consider the future

Doing this could prove beneficial in the long run. Maybe the particular job you applied for wasn’t a good fit, but the hiring manager liked you and might recommend you for another position in the company – or another company in the same industry – in the future that might be more appropriate for you.

Job hunting can be like a game, and you set the rules you want to play by. But the more considerate and professional your behavior, the more likely you will find a job that is a good fit for you.


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