You've Been 'Ghosted' By A Hiring Manager. Now What?
You've found the perfect job, and it appears the hiring manager thinks you're pretty terrific too. During the interview process, it seemed as if everyone clicked. You were hoping for the finalization to take place soon. Suddenly, communication stops. You wonder what you could have possibly done wrong when things were going so well.
It looks like you've been ghosted. Now what?
Recognize the signs you've been ghosted
Ghosting is when someone suddenly breaks off a relationship without any explanation and avoids further contact. Often this term is used in dating, but ghosting can apply to the hiring process too.
It's important to recognize the signs. People go on vacation or leave jobs. Other events within the company might have interrupted the hiring process. If a hiring manager has suddenly gone dark, be sure you've actually been blown off before you take action.
- It's been long past the time you were expecting to hear back after the interview
- The hiring manager has uncharacteristically begun ignoring you
- You're consistently told the person is in a meeting or otherwise unavailable
- The position has been removed from job listings
Another thing you can do is check the hiring manager's social media accounts to see if the hiring manager is interacting with other candidates or heavily promoting the position you'd thought was a shoo-in.
If, after evaluating the situation, you're pretty certain you've been ghosted, there are a few approaches you can take to follow up with the hiring manager.
Make a phone call
As long as you haven't made a dozen phone calls already, it's acceptable to give the manager a final call. If the date they said they'd get back to you has come and gone, wait about a week before dropping them a line. You don't want to be annoying, as this could work against you in the long run. However, you can politely reiterate your interest in the position and ask the status of your application. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Send a well-designed email
If a reasonable amount of time has passed, send an email stating you're checking in to see if there's an update on the position, and you look forward to hearing back from them. Sometimes following up can actually help you land the job, especially if you use it as an opportunity to make yourself stand out:
- A well-written note puts your name up front again and reminds the recruiter of your qualifications
- Bring up a business challenge discussed during your meetings and share any ideas you have. This shows you're still interested in the job and thinking of ways you can contribute. (Even if the position was filled, this could get you considered for other positions.)
- Be sure to write a good email title so it stands out amongst a potentially flooded inbox. If there is an existing email thread, add to it, don't start a new one.
- If you've received another offer, let the company know they are your first choice, but you have a timeline of needing a decision. They might be more forthcoming if they know you're getting ready to move on to another company.
Sending a well-designed and positive email from time to time can put you back on the radar. (Keep in mind, experts typically say don't make contact more than once every 10 to 14 days.)
If the silence has gone on long enough to the point you're pretty sure the company has passed you over as a candidate, you can try sending an email to the people who've interviewed you. In your note, thank the person(s) for the opportunity to interview and state you've assumed they've moved on to another candidate. You can also ask for feedback about why you didn't get the job to help you with your own professional growth (but keep in mind some companies have a "no feedback" policy"). Whatever you write, be sure to leave emotions out of it. Keep it simple, to the point and get yourself the closure you need so you can move on.
Understand it's probably not personal
After getting ghosted, you could feel bewildered or suffer a loss of confidence. Even if you were *this close* to getting the job and still got ghosted, in reality, it was probably nothing you did wrong. It's more than likely the recruiter got caught up in other tasks or the company found a better fit and they focused their energies onboarding that person. Which leads to the next question.
Why do some hiring agents ghost candidates anyway?
It's hard to say why ghosting people takes place. It could be any number of reasons. Maybe it's conflict avoidance and the person is too chicken to tell you they've decided to go with another candidate. Perhaps they determined you weren't the best person for the job and they put their efforts elsewhere. It might be they are keeping you on the "B list" of candidates in case their "A list" person doesn't work out. Or, it could be the hiring manager is rude, indifferent or is simply preoccupied with their workload.
What not to do
Remember, regardless of what action you ultimately decide to take, always be proactive, never reactive. Once you fire off some choice words you can't take any of them back.
- Avoid sending a heated voicemail, email or letter. If the experience was really negative and you feel the need to give criticism, be sure it's constructive and professional.
- Don't take to social media to bash the employer. Aside from it making you look bitter, other employers will probably see it and this could harm your professional reputation.
- Be sure this bad experience doesn't affect your job search. Use it as a learning experience to ask future employers more direct questions about when you can expect to hear back so you're not left hanging for weeks on end.
It's important to get closure so you can move on to other opportunities, but you also want to avoid burning any bridges in the process. If you've been ghosted, sure, it's upsetting, but be smart about the way you respond. Always maintain a professional demeanor, your career path will thank you for your restraint.