I recently applied for a position that I’m perfect for! A recruiter from the company contacted me and scheduled me for an interview with the manager. I went, the interview was a little over an hour and it went great! I immediately followed up with an email to the recruiter and the manager thanking them, but since then I’ve heard nothing and it’s been weeks. I’ve sent follow-up emails to both the recruiter and the manager and I’ve gotten no reply.
What should I do? Why do companies do this to candidates? I would rather they just tell me they aren’t interested than have them say nothing at all!
The Ghost Candidate
There are a number of reasons that recruiters and hiring managers ghost candidates and none of them are good! Here’s a short-list of some of these reasons:
– They hated you and hope you go away when they ghost you because, conflict in uncomfortable.
– They like you, but not as much as another candidate they’re trying to talk into the job, but want to leave you on the back burner, but they’re idiots and don’t know how to do this properly.
– They decided to promote someone internally and they don’t care about candidate experience enough to tell you they went another direction.
– They have a completely broken recruitment process and might still be going through it believing you’re just as happy as a pig in shi…
– They think they communicated to you electronically to bug off through their ATS, but they haven’t audited the process to know this isn’t working.
– The recruiter got fired and no one picked up the process.
I would love to tell you that ghosting candidates are a rare thing, but it’s not! It happens all the time! There is never a reason to ghost a candidate, ever! Sometimes I believe candidates get ghosted by recruiters because hiring managers don’t give feedback, but that still isn’t an excuse I would accept, at least tell the candidate that!
Look, I’ve ghosted people. At conference cocktail parties, I’ve been known to ghost my way right back up to my room and go to sleep! When it comes to candidates, I don’t ghost! I would rather tell them the truth so they don’t keep coming back around unless I want them to come back around.
I think most recruiters ghost candidates because they’re over their head in the amount of work they have, and they mean to get back to people, but just don’t have the time. When you’re in the firefighting mode you tend to only communicate with the candidates you want, not the ones you don’t. Is this good practice? Heck, no! But when you’re fighting fires, you do what you have to do to stay alive.
What would I do, if I was you?
Here are a few ideas to try if you really want to know the truth:
1. Send a handwritten letter to the CEO of the company briefly explaining your experience and what outcome you would like.
2. Go on Twitter and in 140 characters send a shot across the bow! “XYZ Co. I interviewed 2 weeks ago and still haven’t heard anything! Can you help me!?” (Will work on Facebook as well!)
3. Write a post about your experience on LinkedIn and tag the recruiter and the recruiter’s boss.
4. Take the hint and go find a company who truly values you and your talent! If the organization and this manager treats candidates like this, imagine how you’ll be treated as an employee?
Thank you for the article. It really helps to know that at least I am not the only one going through this. I applied to a company for a job in IT through a 3rd party recruiter in December 2022. I was excited to start work at this company. I completed 3 interviews, including a technical, plus a fourth one to discuss timeline with the hiring manager and everything went well in all of them. I was even told by the hiring manager he wanted to hire me in the fourth meeting but that he had to finish the paperwork and get it approved by the director (who I also interviewed with on the 2nd). It has been over 3 months since the first interview going through the entire hiring process and still do not know officially if they rejected me. I have been following up with the recruiter numerous times since the last interview and he was continuing to try to get an answer on the signed agreement and nothing. No answer, not even a courtesy e-mail or phone call from the company indicating their decision one way or the other. The office manager doesn’t answer the phone and hasn’t returned any of my calls either. To me, this is truly unprofessional behavior and it is hard to imagine how they could ghost me after on multiple occasions told me they wanted to hire me. The recruiter has even stopped calling and emailing me now. I just do not understand this practice at all and feel bad for anyone who is going through this. It is completely unnecessary, in my opinion. Noone deserves this type of behavior.
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I’ve been through two interview with a pretty hot company in my industry. Have had two internal recommendations and took 4 assessment tests which I understood I did well on. The last interview closed with them telling me I was one of 2 finalists and I’d hear back from HR in about 2 days. It’s been 4 .5 days days and I’ve heard nothing. Sent HR an email on the 3rd day and no response. Sent the Hiring Manager an email yesterday asking if there was a new time line in the process and still have not heard back. Could be that someone is out sick or had a car accident or developed covid or are just busy but one would have though I would have heard back from 1 or the other contact. I am thinking they either really liked the other candidate better and although I was supposed to go onto the next step they are just moving forward with him. That would be fine but I’d be happier with we are going to move with the other candidate because as opposed to being totally ghosted. What would you do?
I have interviewed a lot in the last few years, both phone and in person. Been through multiple rounds at several places and just when it seems as if something is a “done deal”, the ghosting seems to happen. What I think is really the key issue is that recruiters, in general, are reluctant to provide news that is not so great. This is especially after a good rapport with them, along the way….. and, when you’re suddenly no longer of use to them, the priority to give a polite response is absent. In this past week, I have had emails ignored by two recruiters, in two different interviewing processes. It’s fine that I didn’t get selected for advancement with either situation: a contract, and a full-time role…but the gnawing inside of me for a polite reply does sting a little.
You hit the nail on the head! For the vast majority, the lack of feedback in simple conflict avoidance!
It’s awful that it happens, when 100% of the time, it shouldn’t.
This has happened me a number of times this year. It seems the whole business world has lost a basic sense of decency and manners. There is some comfort knowing I am not the only one facing this.
I’ve hired people, and I know before the interview is over if they are the one or not. I simply do not understand how there is such a gap from interview to decision to offer stages.
I have written to people who refuse to respond to a friggin email? It goes something like this, “after you forced me to jump thru hoops, even forcing me to take time off from my current job (because you could not work with me on a time that would be mutually convenient)….I DEMAND the courtesy of a response to this email. [And then I proceed to post this all over glassdoor]
It’s one thing to ghost someone who just applies and they never hear back. That’s bad, but not awful. It’s another thing when someone actually starts the interview process. That is inexcusable! It’s just so easy to send a “canned” generic rejection email.
“After thorough consideration we’ve decided to move onto other candidates who we feel at better suited for this role.” TADA! Done
Obviously the “right thing” is to just let it go and I will. However, a part of me feels that when good people do nothing, bad people (behavior) continues.
This blog is sad but true and as a recruiter I have been guilty of being in over my head and simply not having the time to respond to all candidates as I would like. I know there are some automated options out there to assist recruiters with this overload but they may be costly. We should definitely be contacting those who have been scheduled and completed an interview. Its a matter of candidate experience and positive branding for the company. Thank you for sharing these thoughts and insights.
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Nice write up Tim. I would go with option 4. I really do believe that how companies handle candidates reflects how they will treat their staff. Option 1,2 and 3 may help fill your need for a response, but at this stage, the bridge is already burnt.