Interview ghosting: Stop treating job seekers like bad dates

Don’t underestimate the business impact of a simple rejection letter.

by Orianna Rosa Royle
Last Updated: 20 Aug 2020

'Ghosting' describes the occurrence when a potential romantic partner doesn’t text you back - ever again - disappearing from your life without explanation and vanishing like a ghost. And while business and pleasure aren’t supposed to mix, it sounds awfully similar to how some employers treat their job applicants.

After multiple rounds of interviews with various hiring managers and HR, perhaps an aptitude test and innumerable handshakes (pre-pandemic), being formally rejected from a role can provide candidates with the closure needed to move on and get back on the job-hunting wagon.

Yet as many interview traditions remain the same - like wearing a suit despite going for a creative role where you’ll be working in jeans and a t-shirt - it seems the etiquette of sending a rejection letter has lost its way. 

A Twitter post by journalist Alex Piscatelli, detailing how after a seemingly great final interview she had “officially been ghosted by a well-known media company”, attracted thousands of responses, with many sharing their own experiences of ghosting in the workplace.

According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 60 per cent of job candidates said they'd never heard back from an employer after an interview. 

Now in a competitive job market, interview ghosting could become increasingly prevalent.

“It’s not uncommon for over 300 people to have applied for one role, before the pandemic”, a recruitment consultant tells Management Today. “Those numbers could rise with the current increase in redundancies, leaving internal recruitment teams inundated.”

He explains that roles which were initially given the go ahead could also be paused during the current crisis due to company-wide freezes on recruitment, leaving candidates hanging. 

Meanwhile overstretched hiring managers might simply focus on getting the successful candidates “onboarded quickly”, leaving the rest to draw their own conclusions. 

But be warned, a quick trawl on Glassdoor’s website reveals that interview ghosting could be damaging your company’s reputation.

“Chase-up emails have been ignored by the HR team, which I think is pretty disrespectful given someone has taken time and money to attend an interview”, one disgruntled job seeker says of Penguin Random House’s silence. Similarly, 31 per cent of MediaMonks job candidates rated their job interviews negatively.

CareerBuilder’s survey found that forty two per cent of workers said they would never seek employment with the company again if they were displeased with the way their application was handled and another 22 per cent said they would tell others not to work there.

The lesson for hiring managers: don’t underestimate the business impact of a a little courtesy.

Image credit: JGI/Tom Grill via Getty Images

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