During my recent 3 month job search, one of the most frustrating parts of the interview process I ran into was being ghosted by companies. Unfamiliar with the term? Urban Dictionary defines “Ghost” as:
“To avoid someone until they get the picture and stop contacting you.
Used in a sentence: “This mother fucker is annoying yo. I’m guna have to ghost him until he gets the point.”
Eloquent, I know 😐. Thanks Urban Dictionary?
In short, to “ghost” is to completely disappear and not contact an individual (often leaving the other human confused and upset). It commonly happens in the online dating world. Girl meets boy, girl has great dates with boy, boy ghosts girl (or vice versa). Instead of having a sensible adult-like “Hey- this isn’t working out” conversation, some men and women have found ghosting to be an easier and less painful way of moving on. However, they often neglect to realize how that makes the ghostee feel. “Did I say something that upset them?”, “Was I being too clingy?”, “DID THEY DIE?”. I’ll give you a fun real-life example that happened to me:
Once upon a time, I had 3 really fun dates with a guy I met on “Why Don’t We?” (an online dating app where men/women suggest fun things to do on their first date). Let’s call him “Man-Bun”. On our 3rd date, we had talked about what we would do for our 4th date. Then I never heard from him again. I sent at least 3 follow-up texts over the next 2 weeks. Not a “hey- I met someone else” response. No “look, I’m really busy”. Not even a “actually, I really want to focus on my man-bun right now”. Just silence.
Then, 5 years later, he delivered food to me at my office from Sprig, didn’t recognize me, and I had a good laugh.
So, flash forward to present day. I’m in a wonderful long-term relationship with my partner, and yet… I’m still being ghosted? Yup. This time, by recruiters and small early stage start-ups. I’m not sure when ignoring emails and lack of communication became a thing, but as someone who just dealt with 3 months of job searching with multiple ghosting instances, I feel like I have to speak up. Recruiters and small start-ups, please hear me out. Here are my answers to your excuses:
But We’re/I’m Really Busy…
Look, I get it. We’re all busy. I’m pretty busy trying to get a job. You’re really busy trying to find a candidate to fill your role. If I take the time to come in person to your office, meet members of your team, and whiteboard for you, I feel like the least you can do is be transparent with me as to where I stand in hiring process. I’ve sent you a thank you email, I’ve reached out nicely 1–2 weeks later with a “Hey- just checking in! Also, here’s a cool side project I’m working on” email. You were really responsive when we were booking my on-site and when I completed your coding challenge (which I spent most of my weekend working on, by the way), so I know you can write a prompt email. The least you can do is acknowledge me. Even if its a “thanks, but no thanks”.
Yeah, But Its Awkward to Give a “No”…
Yeah- but you know what is even more awkward? Me having to bug you and follow up. I‘m actively interviewing, and I’d like to know if I shouldn’t be getting my hopes up about you and your company. Please, rip off the band-aid for me.
Also, it was even more awkward for me when you started posting “we’re hiring for this role!” posts in all of the Facebook groups/Slack channels/LinkedIn groups I’m a part of… 😐 It’s kind of like going on a couple fantastic dates with someone, and then seeing them on another dating site. Don’t make it more awkward than it already is.
We’re Just Not Ready to Give an Answer
Cool, that’s totally fine! Just tell me that. If you’re waiting on feedback, tell me to sit tight. If you’re waiting on that busy engineer to finally get around to evaluating my code- send me an “updates soon!” email. I’ve spent a lot of time and mental energy interviewing for you. It would be awesome if you could return the favor by sending me a quick email. Even if its 1 sentence long.
I Really Don’t Care
Well, you should. Your recruiting/hiring practices are being discussed by the community. It’s not uncommon for me to tell my close friends (who are also in the industry) about how my interviews went. Often times they’ll ask “Hey! What happened with that interview you had at World Wide Wickets?” and I’ll say “It’s so weird… they ghosted me and I never heard back”. Or similarly, with my fellow Hackbright Academy classmates, someone may ask “Hey! I have an interview at World Wide Wickets! What was your interview process like there?”. And I’ll say “Ya know- not great. I had 2 really great interviews, followed up multiple times, and they ghosted me”.
People talk. You may be losing strong candidates and developing a bad reputation from your hiring process if you ghost.
Eh- It’s Just An Entry Level Role…
Look, I know that you’re much more likely to respond quickly to a higher level role than an entry level candidate. With a more senior hire, your reputation is at stake, and you wouldn’t want to taint your brand to a leader in the industry. However, that should have nothing to do with the way you respond to a candidate (see the “I Really Don’t Care” section above). That entry level candidate may not be a Tech Lead at Uber, start-up advisor, Designer at Pandora, or Senior Engineer at Twitter but her partner and friends might be (all real life examples from my close social circle). People talk to each other- be mindful of the impact your ghosting may have. A candidate is a candidate, and you should treat them as a professional, not like some random girl you met on Tindr.
Something I appreciated from the more communicative companies I interviewed at was their willingness to give feedback. As a new engineer, every interview was a learning experience for me. There were many companies that I interviewed at, and left thinking “Wow- that went well!”, only to never hear back from them again. While I know many companies are unable to give detailed feedback (Google, for example is very transparent with their hiring process, but is also very transparent with the fact that they cannot give feedback), ghosting a candidate leaves the interviewee with no information on how to improve going forward. This is valuable information for not only the candidate, but also the hiring team. The candidate can learn how to improve, and the company will get a better sense of what type of candidates they should interview going forward. A win-win, really.
Ok Cool- How Can We Be More Transparent?
Respond to your candidate’s emails, and try to be as honest and transparent as you can about timelines. We all understand that things come up, emails don’t get sent, etc. Your candidate shouldn’t have to follow up with you post-interview (that is your job, not theirs). I was extremely appreciative of Branch Metrics’s hiring page during my interview process. They have really nailed it when it comes to interview transparency by completely spelling out the hiring process/timeline step by step (and they stuck to it!). Check out their awesome page here (and yes, they’re hiring!): https://branch.io/careers/
If you have any feedback from the other side of the table, I welcome it! I think that the hiring process should be an open and transparent process, but if you disagree, I’d love to hear your comments below. I hope that together, we can exterminate these ghosts and help more people get placed in awesome jobs (without crippling anxiety as they wait to hear responses back). 👻👻👻
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