Former Amazon and Apple hiring manager, interviewer, senior Marketing and Sales leader. Co-founder of Day One Careers, mentor, interview and leadership coach.
If you’ve had your initial job interview with a recruiter and have been waiting for a response, you might have been ghosted. The term “ghosting” refers to a situation where a recruiter stops communicating with job applicants (e.g., stops responding to emails or phone calls) without any explanation or heads up. It can occur at any point during the hiring journey.
If you’re like most of us, being ghosted is not the best emotional experience. It could be confusing and disheartening, primarily if you’ve already invested much time and preparation into the interview process. Unfortunately, employer ghosting is becoming more common these days and is a real problem for job seekers.
So, in this article, we will discuss ways of dealing with, reacting to, and preventing being ghosted after an interview.
When Should an Employer Get Back to You After an Interview?
Before we go any further, we have to discuss expectations. If you haven’t heard back from the hiring team for one day post-job interview, does this automatically mean you’re being ghosted? How about two weeks?
How quickly you’ll hear back after the first interview depends on a few factors. Here are the most common ones:
The size of the hiring team
The seniority of the role
The experience of the hiring manager and the rest of the interviewing team
Interview logistics (diary clashes, holidays, etc.)
The hiring urgency within your prospective team
From our experience, the seniority of the role plays the most prominent part.
As a rule of thumb, you can expect to hear back for entry-level gigs within days (less than a week).
For mid-level positions, you’ll probably hear back within a week.
Senior-level or executive roles could take a few weeks to a month. Here, delays usually occur due to the seniority of the hiring manager and the rest of the interviewers (the more senior the interviewer, the more difficult it is to square diaries and availability).
Signs You’ve Been Ghosted After an Interview
Candidates who have gone through the interview process can often be left feeling uncertain about the status of their application. If there is no follow-up from the company, that’s one sign that a job seeker has been ghosted after an interview.
Another sign that a job seeker may have been ghosted is a lack of response to emails or calls. If the candidate reaches out to the employer and does not receive a response, this may indicate that the candidate has been ghosted. Missed deadlines are also a potential sign of ghosting. If the employer previously provided a timeline for the recruitment journey and misses deadlines, this may indicate that the prospective employee has been ghosted.
In those cases where the company has an online application system with the application status indicator, no updates on the application status is another sign that a job hunter may have been ghosted.
Finally, if your recruiter does not explain the lack of communication, you might have been ghosted.
Why Do Employers Ghost Applicants After an Interview?
Remember, ghosting can happen for various reasons and may not necessarily reflect your qualifications or fit for the role. Ghosting can be a frustrating experience, but it’s important to keep a positive attitude and continue the job search with confidence and determination. Here are the most common reasons for the radio silence after the interview.
Your Interviewer Has Been Laid Off
Unfortunately, given the widespread 2022-2023 layoffs (especially in Big Tech), this is becoming a more common scenario. Your interviewer (or even the hiring manager) may have been laid off from their position and unable to follow up or give you an update on the hiring process.
You Don’t Fit The Role (But The Company Doesn’t Have a Way to Tell You)
Most companies have a default mechanism to let job seekers know they were unsuccessful. Yet, you’d be surprised how many don’t have a socialized step-by-step guide for recruiters to deliver the bad news. This might have been your case. Forgive them.
The Hiring Process Doesn’t Have a Set Time Frame
Most Fortune 500 companies have a clearly defined hiring process with timelines for each stage. For example, Amazon famously has its Candidate Promise, which mandates that hiring teams must come back to candidates within two business days after the initial phone interview and within five business days from the panel (loop). However, smaller companies or startups often don’t have a well-defined approach (there are some exceptions, but it’s not standard practice). As a result, some parts of the hiring process can take longer than others.
There Are Too Many Job Candidates, And Your Recruiter is Overwhelmed With Job Interviews
Another reason for ghosting is an overwhelming response to a job posting. While this cannot be an acceptable reason for the radio silence, when a job posting receives a high volume of applications, it can be difficult for employers to manage all the responses. Additionally, employers may prioritize specific candidates over others based on their experience, skills, and qualifications. Lastly, some companies don’t have enough recruiters.
The Interview Process Stopped Because The Hiring Plans Changed
Change in hiring plans is also a reason for ghosting. Budgets get cut, roles disappear, or other candidates (including internal candidates) might get the upper hand. In such cases, the employer may choose not to continue the recruitment process with external candidates, leading to ghosting and a disrupted job hunt.
Hiring Manager is Unavailable (And Other Logistics Issues)
The hiring process in a large organization is a complex undertaking. A typical mid-senior role in Big Tech can have up to ten interviewers, and everyone’s schedules must be coordinated to run smoothly. Every stakeholder has a busy schedule, and not everyone can be available whenever the recruiter needs them. Squaring senior diaries is especially nightmarish for recruiters, so candidates might experience ghosting.
Can You Prevent an Interviewer From Ghosting You?
While it’s impossible to prevent being ghosted by a recruiter, you can take a few steps to make it less likely.
The first step is to align expectations, preferably by email. During the first conversations with your recruiter, ask questions to understand the application process in detail. Ensure you are clear on the hiring timeline and the appropriate timeframe for the following interview.
Another way to reduce the chances of being ghosted is to stay in touch regularly. This must be done with skill. You should maintain a visible presence in the recruiter’s inbox without overstepping the line and coming across as annoying. So do write an occasional follow-up email, but avoid writing more than once a week.
Recruiter Ghosting After Interview: Do’s and Dont’s For Job Seekers
We’ve pulled together a few simple do’s and don’ts to reduce your chances of being ghosted after an interview.
Do: Establish a relationship with your interviewer in the first conversation
Make a great first impression by researching before showing up for the interview. This shows interest and dedication. Ask thoughtful and genuine questions during the interview (or the Q&A part after the main conversation). Try to relax and be yourself: it’s impossible to have a relationship with someone who’s not genuine.
Do: Ask for a timeline
Most likely, your potential employer has a timeline for the hiring process. Ask them what that timeline looks like and when you can expect to hear back from them regarding their decisions. Most recruiters will happily advise on the next steps after every interview stage.
Do: Send a “Thank You” Email Right After The Interview
We’ve been asked by many candidates if sending a “Thank You” note can influence recruitment outcomes. While being courteous won’t make a huge difference in hiring decisions, sending a short message thanking the team for their time will contribute to a positive impression.
Do: Follow Up With the Interviewer
Recruiters’ email inboxes are overflowing with emails. So, you can keep yourself on top of the recruiter’s inbox by reaching out periodically. In addition, following up allows you to get an update on the status of your application. Make sure to keep the follow-ups light and polite – this will help build a stronger relationship with the recruiter and reduce the chances of being ghosted after an interview.
Do: Be Patient
We don’t take radio silence well when we’re in a job hunt mode. So there’s always the temptation to follow up with the interviewing team if you haven’t heard anything the day after the interview. So one is the better, right? Not always. The interviewers are just as busy as you and might need some time to review your application and decide. So, following up with the hiring team once a week is usually a safe bet.
Don’t: Assume The Worst Without Clarifying With Your Recruiter
Just because the company hasn’t been in touch for a while doesn’t mean you’ve been ghosted after an interview. Your prospective employer might have made a decision and not gotten around to informing you yet, or they may still be in the process of making a decision. The only way to take the guesswork out of the situation is to follow up.
Don’t: Follow Up with an Employer Too Often
If you have already sent your “Thank You” note after the interview, allowing the company a few days to respond is a good idea. Following up more often than once in five working days runs the risk of making you appear pushy. So be patient and keep following up with the recruiter to a reasonable schedule.
Don’t: Be Discourteous or Disrespectful to The Recruiter
We get it. Being ghosted after interviews, waiting, and not hearing back is frustrating. But no matter how annoyed you might feel, avoid the temptation not to vent your frustration with the recruiter. Always remain courteous, professional, and polite. If you are ghosted twice by the same employer, thank them for their time graciously before moving on.
Do: Accept the Company’s Decision Gracefully
Whether or not you were ghosted after an interview, always accept the company’s decision with grace and gratitude. Remember that recruitment is taxing on both job seekers and hiring managers. So please show your appreciation for being considered, thank them for their time, and wish them the best. If you didn’t get the job offer, showing courtesy will increase the chances your interviewers will remember you the next time relevant job opportunities arise.
Don’t: Give Up on The Job Search if You Were Ghosted
Being ghosted after an interview is discouraging, but it’s important not to abandon your search. Remember that, fundamentally, ghosting candidates has everything to do with the company and nothing to do with you as a candidate. It doesn’t define your worth or reflect your skills or accomplishments. There are many other opportunities, and you’re bound to find the right fit eventually.
Being ghosted after an interview can be a frustrating and confusing experience, but it’s important not to let it discourage you. Following the do’s and don’ts mentioned in this article can reduce your chances of being ghosted and increase your chances of having a smooth recruitment journey, whether you get the role or not. From establishing a relationship with your interviewer during the first conversation to sending a thank you email after the interview to following up with the recruiter periodically, you can ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward throughout the process. It’s also important to remember that there are many other opportunities and to remain patient, courteous, and professional throughout the job search process. Don’t give up and keep pushing forward, and you’ll find the right role for you eventually.