Why do job applicants “ghost” employers?
Awhile back, I read an article complaining that applicants are “ghosting” employers after interviews. That is, they don’t return calls or messages, to the point where it seems like they disappeared.
Why are applicants doing it?
They learned it from employers.
If you took the time to go over to a business, meet someone, and talk about a job, it’s annoying to hear “we’ll be in touch” and then never hear anything.
Recently, I applied for a job, and received a call back. Yes! However, the HR person on the line expected me to do a phone interview, right then and there. In the middle of a vacation, with no access to my resume or notes, I spoke for about thirty minutes with my experience and qualifications.
Soon after, I received another call. Could I come in and interview in 24 hours? It didn’t seem like a lot of notice, but I was eager to please, so I rearranged my schedule and made the appointment.
I arrived, interviewed, and heard the promise: “HR will be in touch.”
Young job-hunters probably figure that this “no response means no” is the norm. It’s best to be honest with candidates. If you aren’t going to be in touch, don’t make that promise.
They’ve had a bad experience.
Maybe 10 years ago, I went in to an interview for a job that seemed like a good fit. But I was in college, and once I was at the interview and learned more about the position, it was clear that this job’s schedule would conflict with my class schedule. I politely let them know that I didn’t think I could do it.
I was surprised when they called back and offered me the job. I again explained that normally I’d love to work there, but that particular position wouldn’t work with my class schedule. The caller got defensive and angry, and hung up. The message was clear: Don’t turn us down.
I could see how an experience like that might put someone off from explaining that they don’t want a job.
Something turned them off.
Interviewing can be a delicate time. Someone is sitting in front of you, looking at your work history, judging you as a candidate, and looking for any reason to write you off. With that power imbalance, it doesn’t take much to make a candidate uneasy.
I’ve had employers ask me illegal questions (“Do you have a boyfriend?”), or just use the occasion to make fun of me. Or they give an extremely low offer, such as minimum wage for a job that requires a professional degree.
If a candidate feels insulted, he or she may ghost you, rather than go through the confrontation of explaining what happened.
I definitely do not advocate ghosting if you’re a job applicant. It’s never wise to burn bridges. A voicemail saying, “I’m sorry, but I accepted another offer” is all you need.
But if someone does ghost you, don’t take it personally. Just move on: to the next job, the next candidate, or the next opportunity.