Prospective employer ghosting: what is it and what to do about it
Have you ever been to a job interview and felt confident about your chances of getting the job, only to never hear from the company again? We’ve all been there — prospective employer ghosting is a reality most job seekers are unfortunately quite familiar with.
So what should you do whenever you get ghosted by the hiring manager after an interview? And is there anything you can do to stop ghosting from happening in the first place? Read on to learn about the best ways to mitigate prospective employer ghosting during your next job interview.
What is prospective employer ghosting?
Ghosting is a term that originates from the dating world. It’s the word used to describe a situation in which someone stops all contact with the person they’re dating and stops responding to messages. From the other person’s perspective, the ghoster disappears from their life just like a ghost would.
Unfortunately, ghosting isn’t unique to dating. It’s quite common in the workplace. Prospective employer ghosting is when employers cease communication with a candidate, even after they’ve brought them in for an interview.
Candidates ghost potential employers when they’re no longer interested in a job opportunity. Some even go so far as to never come in for their first day of work, even after they’ve landed a job. But hiring managers are guilty of ghosting, too.
A recent survey sheds some light on how common ghosting is for both job candidates and prospective employers. 75% of these survey respondents said they’d been ghosted by prospective employers after an interview.
Similarly, 84% of respondents said they’d ghosted a potential or current employer. This means that the majority of people have both experienced ghosting while also going through the act of ghosting prospective employers.
Why would a potential employer ghost you?
Getting ghosted by potential employers is frustrating, so why does it happen? Here are some reasons why prospective employer ghosting happens.
1. The hiring manager left the company
It’s important to remember that hiring managers and HR employees are people, just like you are. They’re not faceless representatives of a company.
This means they can get sick, go on vacation, quit their job, and even get fired. Some companies have systems in place to make sure everything gets taken care of when this happens. But in some cases, information falls through the cracks.
There’s always a possibility that your application — and all the notes the hiring manager kept about you as a candidate — got lost or forgotten about if this person can no longer perform their job.
2. The interview went badly
Let’s say you fully prepared for your interview, answered all the questions with confidence, and overall feel like you gave a good impression. Even when you think you’ve nailed your interview, it’s possible that the hiring manager didn’t perceive it that way.
Perhaps you didn’t have the exact qualifications they were looking for, even if the interview went well.
3. The company went in another direction with the position
In some cases, a company can go through the lengthy process of:
Posting job listings on several websites and platforms
Sifting through applications
Performing several interviews
And despite going through all these steps, the hiring manager may get told that the company no longer needs to hire someone for that position.
This can happen for several reasons. In some cases, projects get canceled, or a team switches direction in a way that requires a completely different type of candidate. When this happens, hiring managers can get overwhelmed with the need to respond quickly to the change. They may not have time to notify every candidate they’ve interviewed thus far.
4. The company decided to make an internal hire
When job seekers find a public job listing, it means the company wants to hire an outside applicant. They either haven’t found someone with the right qualifications in their existing pool of employees, or they don’t have enough people to cover everything that needs to get done.
But during the hiring process, things can change within a company. For instance, a new internal applicant may spruce up their resume or develop the skills necessary to land that position. Sometimes the hiring manager will only take notice of an internal candidate with lots of potential when outside interviews are already in progress.
So yes — it’s possible to get ghosted when the company decides to promote someone from the inside.
5. The company isn’t well organized
A hiring manager going absent isn’t the only reason your application can get lost in the shuffle. Some companies struggle to stay organized and keep tabs on every candidate’s application.
Hiring managers can start struggling to manage several applications, especially when there’s no standardized hiring process for them to follow. When this happens, following up with every rejected applicant becomes a nearly impossible mission.
What do you do when a prospective employer ghosts you?
Now you know the potential reasons why you may get ghosted by a hiring manager. Here’s what to do if you get ghosted after an interview with a prospective employer to increase your chances of at least getting a response.
1. First, don’t take it personally
The first step is the most difficult — not taking ghosting personally.
You can’t assume that you’re getting ghosted because you bombed the interview. As stated before, hiring managers can ghost candidates for several reasons. It’s often because of how overwhelmed they are with the hiring process.
Remember that it’s a business decision, not a personal judgment on your worth. Even the most valuable employees in an organization may get ghosted elsewhere.
Instead, try to see ghosting as an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone.
2. Take the initiative to reach out
Feel like you’re getting ghosted? It’s time to take action. Call or email the hiring manager to follow up after your job interview.
Stay brief and to the point during your follow-up. You should also avoid emailing repeatedly and swamping the hiring manager’s inbox. If they don’t respond after two follow-ups, there’s a good chance they won’t respond at all.
Wait the right amount of time before your first follow-up. There’s no “perfect” timeline that applies to every situation since it depends on the expectations they set. For instance, if they said they’d be in touch in five days, follow up in six or seven days.
If no timeline was specified, wait at least 10 business days before you get in touch.
When you follow up, there’s a chance you’ll get ignored — but there’s also a chance they'll respond. But, if someone else got the job, what else can you do?
Consider replying to ask for feedback. Tell them you’d appreciate the opportunity to improve as a candidate for your next opportunities. Remember to thank them for their time when you do this.
Receiving feedback may be difficult at first. But the information you receive will be valuable for your continued job search. In some cases, they may tell you that you did fine but that another applicant simply had a bit more experience. Whatever they respond, you’ll rest easy knowing exactly why you didn’t get the job instead of wondering about it forever.
3. Reach out to someone else in the company
Have you followed up once or twice with the hiring manager, only to hear crickets? At this point, you can try to reach out to someone else in the company if you have their contact information.
Keep in mind that this other contact may not be able to help you. If the hiring manager simply got overwhelmed with all the applicants, this might get you a rejection letter instead of nothing at all. But if the hiring manager is out sick or no longer with the company, reaching out to someone else can give you clarity on the situation.
It can also help you figure out the next steps to take, if applicable. For instance, perhaps a new hiring manager took over the process. Your contact could put you in touch with that person to get the ball rolling.
How to avoid getting ghosted by potential employers
It’s impossible to prevent prospective employer ghosting from happening entirely. You’re not in their shoes, and you can’t control their actions.
However, you can mitigate the risk by taking the following steps.
1. Do your best to ace the interview
If you make a strong impression at the interview, there’s a higher chance that the hiring manager will remember you. Even if you don’t get the job, you may at least get some feedback. That hiring manager can even become a part of your network.
Prepare for the interview ahead of time to increase your chances of doing well. Do your research on the company and the role you’re applying for. Make sure to practice until you feel confident about the way you present yourself as a candidate.
Don’t hesitate to ask a friend, roommate, or family member to help you practice your interview skills. It can feel awkward at first, but other people may perceive some details about the way you present yourself that you wouldn’t notice otherwise.
You can also practice how to introduce yourself correctly to the hiring manager and other people present at the interview. The way you introduce yourself will determine what type of first impression you make on your interviewers.
Remember to make a good overall impression by preparing to answer the question “tell me about yourself.” It helps to present what makes you valuable as a candidate.
2. Follow up with a thank-you letter after the interview
You don’t have to wait until you’re getting hired, rejected, or ghosted to get in touch with the hiring manager after an interview.
Instead, be proactive and get in touch to thank the interviewers for the opportunity. To do this, wait one day after your interview. Then, follow up with a thank-you letter.
Keep in mind that this type of follow-up isn’t meant to ask about the status of your application. It should be a no-strings-attached letter that simply thanks them for their time and reminds them of why you’d make a great choice for this position.
It’s highly unlikely that the hiring manager will have had enough time to decide who to hire after a single day, so asking about that can be seen as desperate or impolite.
You can also use your thank-you letter to let the interviewers know how to reach out to you if they need additional information about you.
3. Connect with the hiring manager in more than one place
Want to avoid getting ghosted? Make sure you stay on the hiring manager’s radar. The more visible you are in their network, the more likely they are to at least follow up with you — even if you get rejected.
Email works great for a thank-you letter and follow-up. But make sure you connect with them on Jobcase, too. Just ensure your profile is up-to-date before you do this — it would look strange to have conflicting information on your profile compared to the resume you gave them.
Avoid crossing the line and stalking hiring managers. For example, finding their personal phone number and address isn’t an appropriate way to stay connected. You should also avoid friending them on personal social media networks like Facebook.
Stop prospective employer ghosting in its tracks
No one likes getting ghosted — but during your job search, it’s likely to happen. One of the best ways you can mitigate prospective employer ghosting is to build stronger relationships with your network. The more people you know in a prospective employer’s company, the more likely you are to at least hear back from someone you know about your application.
Join Jobcase for free today to start growing your professional network.
Great tips. Although, I had aced interviews, have followed up with a thank you letter and a phone call... still, nothing.