Thoughts on interview ghosting

Your interview has finished. You’re very happy with your performance and are already looking forward to working with the people you’ve been chatting with. Your mind starts to wander about how great this next opportunity is going to look like, how awesome the project, how easy going the team lead and how well you will be collaborating with them on your first task. However, one week passes, then another… and still no sign from them. Why? What did I do wrong?

Sadly, this sort of situation happens all the time. You’re not the first or last who aced an interview and then got no sign whatsoever from the company who directly expressed their desire to hire you. This can happen for a ton of reasons and most of them are not related to you. That does not, however, mean it is something that is ok to be happening.

I personally believe that after the interviewee had spent their own time participating, answering questions, exchanging ideas, doing assignments, even if they had not done their best, the company should at least provide their feedback – good or bad. It establishes a relationship between the two parties, based on mutual respect. That’s how it is professional to do and they probably expect you to do the same if you want to decline their offer.

About bad feedback – I for one would be happy to know, for example, that they did not want me because I don’t know how to work with a certain framework – that means I should probably invest some time in expanding my knowledge there and try again later. Were my salary expectations too high? – that would help to know, too, maybe we can adjust (however, having the salary ranges on the table before the interview process would help to not waste each other’s time, but that’s a topic for another post). Whatever the reason, it always helps to know, even if is it something that’s in your control (that you can improve) or something completely unrelated.

The most common reason this does not happen is, well, economics – we do not need you, why waste any more time on you? Unfortunately, there are many who think this way. My personal experience contains some such examples. One time, I interviewed for a company, two interviews – HR and a technical one. Both went great and all of the interviewers were apparently super pleased with the conversation. We even discussed some arrangements about on how we will(sic) be working. I was told I would receive my feedback in a few days. I never heard from them again.

Is there something else you could do in such a case? My best advice on this would be to just move on. You could address this beforehand, at the end of the interview, set a date until which you should receive their feedback, and if that is overdue, just stop thinking about anymore. In some cases, I would write an email to explicitly ask about the situation – maybe they will at least give you some information that will be helpful for the future. Even that might be too much, though, since it is a high chance they will not reply (considering they haven’t contacted you so far), thus increasing your frustration.

Apart from all the disappointment, there are also some mental health implications on this, as it can become very stressful to continuously expect an answer after a seemingly great interview experience and to see that it does not come. If you find yourself constantly checking your phone for emails or missed calls, the company’s job page to see if the one you applied to is still up, or you show similar behaviour – these are all signs that the whole process is affecting you. That is why it is very important to set expectations correctly, and just leave it behind when you’ve done everything that was in your control.

Final thoughts – this sort of situation can happen to any of us, no matter how good or bad we did in the interview. It is not something to judge yourself upon, since it tells more about the other party than about you. That does not mean that we should by any means give ourselves a free pass when we mess up badly* and they ghost as a result – many times, the answer is there already.

*- for example, insulting somebody in the interview process or whatever unprofessional actions might come to mind.

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