“Ghosting” is a relatively new term, but the action has been around forever. You think you are on the same page with someone, working toward a common goal, and bam! They’re gone without notice: no call, text, email. It’s like they fell off the face of the earth and are now a ghost. And, to be honest, calling them a ghost is way more fun than a “no-show.” That’s just boring.

Why do people ghost others, especially during the hiring process? I have a bunch of theories about this, but it mostly boils down to two things:

  • Job seekers who start a new job or remain at their current job and don’t follow up on other jobs to which they applied, even if they were already in the interview process.
  • Hiring managers or recruiters either fill a job or decide to not fill a job and don’t let applicants know, even if they already interviewed.

Everyone moves on, so what’s the harm? Plus, it kinda sucks to give someone bad news. I’m busy and I hate to let people down.

There are two major implications to ghosting, regardless of who’s doing it.

Integrity

Your word should matter. If you gave the impression you were going to do something, you have a responsibility to see that thing through, even if it’s to let someone know you’ve changed your mind.

No excuses: not your busyness, discomfort, or uncertainty about what to say. Unless you could experience physical harm, there is no valid excuse to ghost someone.

Trust

It might not matter for today, but you don’t know what tomorrow might bring. People change jobs and your job needs could change. It’s a small world and you might need something from that person in the future. Why would they trust your word?

I can’t tell you the number of people who have ghosted us and return months or years later, needing a job. We keep extensive notes and we will want to be assured that this won’t happen again.

Ghosting isn’t victimless and if you do it, the person harmed might very well be you.