Ghosting interviews

Tempted to ‘ghost’ an interview? Here’s why you should think again.

Ghosting’ is a term that comes from the world of online dating, when one party cuts off all communication without any prior warning. It’s made possible by modern methods of communication – it’s easier to screen calls and block contacts than it is to have a difficult conversation with someone.

As the BBC and LinkedIn have reported, ghosting is also a growing trend in recruitment. The UK’s shrinking labour force and rising vacancy rate means the job market has swung in favour of jobseekers, rather than employers. More candidates are ignoring phone calls and emails, cancelling interviews or simply not showing up. If candidates get a better offer, lose interest in a role after a drawn-out recruitment process, or just decide it’s not right for them, they can simply ignore an employer or recruiter. After all, there are plenty of jobs out there, aren’t there?

To a certain extent, this is turning the tables on employers, some of whom have got away with bad behaviour for years. Most people will have applied for a job, only to go completely unacknowledged by a potential employer. Employers have also been guilty of failing to get back to candidates after interviews, not supplying any feedback or drawing out the recruitment process for months on end.

A recent survey by Clutch, a business-to-business ratings and reviews company, found that over one third of candidates thought it was ‘very unreasonable’ for a company to ignore an applicant. However, in the same survey, one in 10 respondents thought it was ‘acceptable’ for a candidate to ghost an employer, even after accepting a job offer.

Why ghosting could be bad for your career

Tempting though it might be to give employers a taste of their own medicine and simply not bother to get back to them, it’s not a great idea for your career in the long term. Just like in the world on online dating, no-one has fond memories of someone who never bothered to say goodbye.

Employers keep records of their recruitment efforts and if you ghost them, it will be kept on file. If you were interested enough in a company to apply for a role, even if you decide it’s not right for you, you may well want to work for them in the future. Ghosting leaves the impression that you are unprofessional and impolite, and could immediately discount you from any future roles at that firm.

Similarly, you may encounter that hiring manager at another company and a previous bad experience could prejudice them against you.

If the company is using a recruitment agency to hire, failing to keep in contact with the agency could make them look unprofessional to the employer. You will have given the impression of being unreliable and unprofessional and the agency is much less likely to put you forward for roles in the future.

What should you do instead?

It may seem difficult to turn down an interview or a job, but it doesn’t actually take much effort and will help keep your options open for the future. Recruiters and employers don’t want to waste their time on someone who isn’t interested in a role, so will welcome you being honest and up-front about your reasons. Don’t lie and say you’re in hospital just to get out of an interview – it’s much better to be truthful about your reasons.

All you need to do is give them a quick phone call or drop them an email, thanking them for their time and explaining briefly why you’d like to withdraw your application. Don’t go into too much detail – they don’t need your life story – but just give a simple reason, such as “I’ve decided to go in a different direction”, “I feel the commute would be too long” or “I’ve accepted another offer with a higher salary or better benefits”.

In a best-case scenario, giving an employer feedback may mean that they can make changes to the role to make it more appealing to you. And at the very least, it will keep the door open for the future if any more suitable vacancies come up.

Share this page

Career Advice