can I tell a recruiter how rude it was to ghost me after my interview?

A reader writes:

I interviewed for a position that a recruiter brought to my attention over two months ago. I’ve heard nothing from the recruiter even after emailing/calling. I went on Linkedin and saw that the company hired a person. Can I let the recruiter know that it was rude and unprofessional not to let me know I’d not made the cut?

You can, but you’ll be fighting an uphill battle and it probably won’t get the results you want.

Employers and recruiters ghosting candidates is incredibly common. It’s so common that a lot of people just assume that they’ll never hear anything back after an interview and are pleasantly surprised if they do.

That doesn’t make it okay. It’s not okay — it’s rude and inconsiderate, and it’s especially crappy to do considering that candidates may have taken time off work, spent hours preparing for the interview, become excited about the job, be prioritizing other job prospects with this one still a possibility in their heads, and otherwise be deeply invested in hearing back. It takes hardly any time to get back to candidates who interviewed, and not bothering to do it is inexcusable.

But it’s so common that it’s hard to work up much outrage about one individual recruiter who operates that way.

That said, if no one ever complains about it, it’s unlikely to change. So on one hand, I’d love to tell you to register your displeasure (professionally and politely), because it would be good for society as a whole. But I’m reluctant to do that because it’s unlikely to be good for you personally — it’s more likely to be a black mark against you with that recruiter, who won’t want to deal with you again. And you might think that’s fine since you don’t want to deal with her again either, but you might end up regretting that if she’s recruiting in the future for a job you really want.

This is one of the things that’s frustrating about the power dynamics between employers and job candidates; there are financial and other pressures on candidates not to speak up and say “hey, this isn’t okay.” And that pressure leaves most people silent, which leaves employers blithely plunging forward with rampant disregard for the people who propose working for them, sometimes utterly oblivious to the stress and frustration they cause. It sucks.

Because of that, if you are in a position to be able to speak up and risk the potential hit (and not everyone is), it’s a good deed to others if you’re willing to. If you decide to do it, just make sure you do it professionally and politely, since otherwise you’ll be too easily dismissed. And frankly, no matter how professional and polite you are, you may still be dismissed, until enough other people say something too. Which is additionally frustrating. The whole thing is frustrating.

{ 112 comments… read them below }

  1. JokeyJules*

    OP, I’m with you right there between a rock and a hard place.

    I personally would just keep it moving and not point it out, even though it is quite rude and inconsiderate.

    1. Menefreghista Detroit*

      Normally, I would and have in the past. For some reason, the interview process for this job really irritated me. Let me give more detail. I was contacted by the recruiter initially. She is in another state and was not in my network on Linkedin – she just found me. She kept in very close contact every step of the way until right after I had my final interview. In fact, she even involved the owner of the recruiting agency at a few steps in the process. After the final interview, however, her responses grew sparse and the *bam* nothing. Crickets.
      I could take or leave the job, to be honest but I’m tired of having my head messed with!

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        I had a recruiter do this to me.


        The first time was (according to them) because the previous recruiter left. Then they did it to me again. I have warned everyone I know not work with them.

      2. Alli525*

        I really do think that in specific circumstances like yours, a brief email would be understandable.

      3. AMPG*

        Honestly, I would contact her – it sounds like you have nothing to lose, as long as you’re polite.

        “Dear Ghoster,
        I enjoyed working with you during the hiring process for NewJob, Inc. recently, but I was very disappointed that I never received a follow up from you letting me know the outcome of the process. I found your work to be very professional up to that point, and so I’m sure you can understand how this was an unpleasant surprise. I wish you the best with other clients, but request that you not contact me about further openings.

        Menefreghista Detroit”

        1. Menefreghista Detroit*

          I love it. I am actually thinking of sending it to the recruiting company’s owner since the recruiter had me speak with him a few times. The company bears his name, he should know he’s earned a bad reputation for some.

          1. Triplestep*

            I was going to suggest this. Are you sure (as Alison points out) that you’ll never want to work with th is recruiter again, no matter what?

        2. smoke tree*

          Maybe I’m petty, but I would be much more passive-aggressive and play dumb:

          “Dear Ghost,
          Thanks again for connecting me with [x opportunity]. I just wanted to check in because I was surprised not to hear from you since the interview. I’m very excited about the opportunity, and I’d welcome the chance to re-connect.”

          1. smoke tree*

            I’d also be extremely tempted to send her a series of increasingly frantic emails, like “Feeling good about the opportunity! I’ve just put in notice at my current job since I have a great feeling about this!” “Can’t wait to start working for [new employer]!” “My rent is due soon–please update immediately!!!”

      4. 653-CXK*

        I had the same situation with another recruiter. He was great in getting me set up and prepared for the interview, even calling me back right up to the interview itself.

        The job itself was great, but the only problem was it was too far from public transportation, and the shuttle ran sporadically – I would be getting home at 11 at night. I told the recruiter this, but they kept on insisting to wait for a call back. That was a month ago, and as tempted as I am to email them back and ask what happened, I figure I didn’t get the job. Bullet dodged.

  2. Stephanie*

    Yeah, it sucks. But the potential downsides aren’t worth it.

    Alison, I remember a few years back, you had that interviewer email service. Did any employers ever get back when you used it?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ahhh, I’d forgotten all about that! Some employers did respond and were indignant. Some apologized and said it wasn’t their usual practice and the person must have fallen through the cracks.)

      For people who don’t know what we’re talking about — in like 2008/2009, when I apparently had more time on my hands, I created a site that would anonymously email your interviewer a form letter nicely letting them know that they should change their practices and get back to people they interviewed. That way people could send the message without it being tied to them. (It was only around for about a year; it took more time than I thought it would to operate it.)

      1. Triplestep*

        I LOVE this! The only improvement would be if it collected and posted the domains of the email addresses people sent their messages to. Then the poster and their letter would be anon, but it would leave behind a visible trail of the guilty.

        I suppose companies could threaten law suits, but what would inclusion on the list mean other than that someone had used the tool to write to that domain?

  3. BeenThereExperiencedThat*

    In my experience, recruiters have basically zero respect for anyone’s time but their own. It’s why the best time to be hunting for a job is when you already have a job… because you can basically refuse to put up with any recruiters who try to make you deal with their nonsense.

    This period where the job market is booming and the quit rate is up (an indicator of career mobility) is probably the best time to be collectively pushing back on the nonsense that most employers and recruiters expect you to deal with during a job hunt. Perhaps “what’s the most ridiculous thing you experienced while job hunting” would be a good open thread.

    1. Geillis D*

      Thank you. On the flip side, when you already have a job, and ask recruiters to specifically E-MAIL OR TEXT YOU BECAUSE YOU CAN’T TAKE THEIR CALL WHILE AT YOUR DESK, only to have them call you. When you’re at your desk. Just as the boss comes in for something. Or you’re on the phone with a client.

      Or have a recruiter ghost out on a scheduled phone interview, for which you sneak out and sit in your car, that you move to another street just so no one in the office can see you sitting in your car talking on the phone in the parking lot.

      And the list goes on.

      1. SpaceNovice*

        And it’s not just one recruiter calling you but multiple recruiters. So your phone is literally just going off constantly unless you mute all unknown numbers. And most of the calls are about positions you’re either not interested it and/or not qualified for.

        1. Ealasaid*

          Oh god I hate that – cold-calling recruiters are almost invariably super-pushy, working from a script they’ve used a million times, and obviously haven’t looked at my resume beyond “does it say ‘technical writer?'” They’re just calling everyone their database of bot scrapings has matched with a job listing.

          On days when I’m getting a lot of cold calls, I set my phone to only ring for my priority contacts, so any number I haven’t whitelisted doesn’t actually ring.

          Once or twice I’ve gone and looked up the companies they’re from, and they’re all these cookie-cutter generic recruiter websites. It feels really spammy/scammy.

    2. Michaela Westen*

      When I was young and job-hunting in the 90’s, recruiters did nothing but waste my time. I learned to spot their ads and come-ons – always with grandiose promises and no company name, only a phone number.
      I soon learned not to bother with them unless I was both unemployed and bored, and then at least meeting with them got me out of the house!
      The closest I ever got to a job was when a recruiting agency mentioned a word processing job at a much higher salary than I had ever made… when I called to follow-up they had called the company and the company had filled it elsewhere.
      These were for office support jobs. I don’t know how recruiting works at higher levels. Hope I never have to find out!

    3. AMPG*

      I came in to say something similar – too many employers are currently acting as if the unemployment rate is still 8%, when in fact it’s half that and economists are starting to trot out the old “full employment” debate. Every employee with any stability should start pushing back (politely, of course) on these bad practices as often as possible. It’s the only way to change things.

    4. SpaceNovice*

      Tell me about it. So many of them try to call you DURING WORK HOURS, even if you’re not actively looking. I’m working during work hours? Some of them text your phone, too. I’ve gotten a call, voicemail, text, and then an email from multiple recruiters. And often these recruiters are looking for positions I’m obviously not interested in or qualified for if they had bothered to even just scan my resume with a critical eye.

      1. Mad Baggins*

        I feel bad because I don’t want to make recruiters work nights and weekends, but at the same time, they know they’re calling someone at work…who can’t talk at work…because they’re looking for other work, right?

  4. Amber Rose*

    People who make a habit of being rude/inconsiderate are very unlikely to change their minds regardless. They’re more likely to assume that the one complaining is the rude one. :/

    1. BRR*

      I was thinking that as well. That even with the best wording, the recruiter is going to consider the feedback to be rude and unprofessional. Hey, at least we know they likely won’t respond to it ;)

    2. TootsNYC*

      I’m not sure that’s completely true. Some of this is just laziness, or an unwillingness or lack of confidence in delivering bad news, or a desire to avoid “confrontation.”

      hearing a few times “I wish I’d heard from you, since I went to some trouble to help you fill that job, even if I wasn’t the final choice. I was glad to do so, since that meant I had a shot at the job, but a note that the process had ended would have been helpful to me” in a pleasant tone might prompt them to be more diligent.

      I know whereof I speak.

    3. MLB*

      This isn’t a personality issue though, as I’ve had the same experience with many different recruiters. If a company is not interested in moving forward, there’s no benefit for them to contact you.

  5. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    Hmm. I wouldn’t go back to the recruiter on this occasion. However if the same recruiter contacted me again about other positions in future I’d be tempted to faux-innocently call them out on ‘what happened last time’ and see how they respond.

  6. BRR*

    This wouldn’t be the hill I die on. I’d personally love for you (and every candidate who has ever been ghosted) to do it, but because it won’t change anything and could negatively impact you in the future I wouldn’t. I would consider your letter here to be the venting and acknowledgement that will hopefully make you feel a bit better about this and move on.

    1. Menefreghista Detroit*

      OP here. I know it won’t change anything, but I want so badly to call her out on it! She peppered every single phone call with “my new friend” (referring to me) – I guess I’m venting more, huh?!!

      1. BRR*

        Vent away! You’re among friends here. I hate to stereotype, but this is a stereotypical recruiter. There are a lot out there who only will do things when it’s convenient for them because they’re typically filling so many roles. When you’re not helping them, you’re off their radar. I’m sorry this happened. It really sucks especially since you had an interviewed.

      2. Michaela Westen*

        If you have a strong instinct to do it, maybe go ahead! Instincts are good. :)

  7. CatCat*

    When I got ghosted after a second interview, I left a Glassdoor review stating the process and that I thought ghosting candidates versus sending a politely worded reject was inexcusably rude. I didn’t need that job anyway.

    Is there a way to review external recruiters on Glassdoor? Seems like that’s where it might actually matter to a recruiter.

    1. grace*

      Yeah, I did this for the same thing — it made me feel better and hopefully warned others that this could happen.

      At the least, I’d tell your friends/people who may come across this recruiter. But hopefully there’s a way to leave a “review” of some sorts.

    2. Bad Candidate*

      I did that once. The company apologized profusely and said that it wasn’t their normal means of operation. They said if I wanted more feedback to contact them directly. Of course I never did, I didn’t want to “out” myself.

    3. Allison*

      I don’t know if you need to. Companies do read these reviews, and they can generally find out who’s responsible for the bad experience without the agency or recruiter being named.

  8. NW Mossy*

    This type of behavior is so annoying as a job seeker that when I became a manager (and thus got granted the power to hire), I promised myself that I would NEVER ghost a candidate, and I haven’t. Much as it’s not fun to have to give good, decent people the news that they didn’t get the job, it’s far preferable to leaving people hanging indefinitely. When I hire, I’m representing my company, and I want to do my small bit to help us have the reputation of being a place that treats candidates like real people.

    1. Penny Hartz*

      Standing. Applauding.

      Still waiting to hear from the organization that required a two-hour phone interview, then an all-day in-person interview (flying out at my own expense) with SEVEN people. Never heard a peep. It’s been two years. They’re a nonprofit environmental organization.

      I hate them.

      1. Kristen*

        God, I hate them for you as well, whoever they are.

        I also hate the company that ghosted me a few years ago. I’ve accomplished a lot since then and am a much stronger candidate. Guess what? I will not be applying there in the future.

        1. Penny Hartz*


          Not only will I never apply there, I live for the day that I get a solicitation from them for a donation …

          Okay, “live for the day” is a bit strong, but it’s a recurring daydream for sure.

  9. my two cents*

    I reserve both my ‘professional constructive criticism” and also the occasional disdainful reply for the particularly egregious cold-LinkedIn solicitations…

    I looooathe the obvious form letters, and double points off if they’ve also forgotten to properly re-fill their ad-lib form letter. Had 3 different folks from one recruiting agency once contact me at the same time, for the same role…2 had at least e-introduced themselves asking if they could follow-up with some files, whereas the 3rd had gone ahead and directly emailed a bunch of links to sound files (yeah, nope. not going to click unsolicited links). And there’s the messages where the job posting is clearly not at all aligned with your profile’s listed skill set, and then they include a “feel free to pass all your friends my way if this just happens to not be a fit for you!” line…

    But no joke, had a recruiter leave 3 different voicemails on my desk phone (THAT IS NOT POSTED ANYWHERE SO HE CLEARLY WENT THROUGH THE VARIOUS PROMPTS TO FIND ME) urging me to call him back about some job. DUDE. DON’T CALL MY WORKPLACE, DUDE.

    ugh. UGH.

  10. NewBoss5000*

    My “ghosting after an interview” story:

    About nine years ago I applied for a position at a small college in New York. This was right after I got my graduate degree, and I was looking for my first professional job in academia. After a phone interview they invited me to interview in person, but said they could not afford to pay my way. I didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity, so I convinced a family member to come with me, turning the interview into a road trip/interview/mini-vacation. The interview went well, and they reimbursed me a little money ($40 for cab fare!). My family member and I enjoyed a whirlwind tour of NYC and drove back home, thinking that even if I didn’t get the job, I at least got a nice little trip out of it.

    I never heard back from them. Not an email, nor a phone call, nor a letter, nor a little bird with a message on its leg. Nothing.

    I interviewed for another position where I was actually reimbursed for travel and lodging, and ended up getting that position (where I am today). But every once in a while over the years, I have thought about calling them and asking if they ever filled that position.

    1. Bad Candidate*

      Something similar happened to me when my husband and I were moving to the city we live in. I flew in for an interview on my own dime, had to take time off of work, paid for the airfare, hotel, car rental, everything. And they never got back to me, even after I followed up. They knew I was spending my own money to fly in too. The job was reposted several times over the next year and a half too.

      1. Penny Hartz*

        Exactly what happened to me (See my comment above)! Although it looks like they never filled the position, but a similar one is currently posted.

        What really fries my bacon is the never-filling it. At some point they must have thought that it wasn’t a position they really needed, or reevaluated the org structure, or something. What a perfectly easy way out when writing back to candidates! “Hey, we decided that we are going to go a different way and will not be filling the position. Thanks for your efforts, etc…” Truthful, wouldn’t lead to “so what’s so great about whoever they hired” angsting by me and the other candidates, and WOULDN’T MAKE ME HATE YOU.

        1. TardyTardis*

          There’s a bank in my town which is constantly asking for resumes for a position that pays $11.50 an hour, and from what I can tell, never hire anybody.

  11. Philly Redhead*

    Oh OP, I’m right there with you. A company’s internal recruiter contacted me about a position that was REALLY appealing. The work sounded interesting, and it would have been a step up from my current position, cut my commute to 1/3 of what it currently is, nearly doubled my salary, and had amazing employee benefits. The initial phone screen seemed to go very well, and she told me she’d put my info in front of the hiring manager the next day. I waited 2 weeks, and politely followed up, was told she hadn’t been able to get a meeting with the hiring manager yet but she’d get back to me soon. That was two months ago. I try not to, but I still keep a glimmer of hope that they may get back to me.

  12. Master Bean Counter*

    I once had an internal recruiter ghost me after an interview. Didn’t think much of it until the recruiter called me a year later for the same position. My first response was, “No, I’m not interested in your company.”
    The recruiter asked why. I told her that last year after I had taken time off from work to go to an interview and didn’t hear anything back, I really wasn’t interested in revisiting the situation.
    The recruiter insisted there was new management and everything was different. Would I please reconsider. I said no. She offered up the salary range, I said, Okay.
    The next thing that happened was one of the most disorganized interviews I’ve ever had. I left that interview knowing that there was no way I’d ever consider working for that company ever. I was not disappointed when they ghosted me a second time.
    When they called again in a year, I just laughed, said no and hung up the phone.

    1. voluptuousfire*

      That’s odd. I know my company has contacted candidates who have interviewed with us before (happens more often than you would think) but it was mainly due to being a good fit down the road vs. at that time.

      Three times? Wow. You dodged a bullet. The company sounds awkward and bad.

  13. thunderbird*

    Not so much about recruiters, but when I was heavy duty job searching for a long time I dealt with a lot of ghosting from organizations, and being ignored by contacts and connections. Interestingly, I am now work where many of these orgs/individuals request funding and opportunities, and I am in the position to make these decisions. While there is certainly objective criteria, I do still have my biases towards orgs that left a bad taste in my mouth, and I seem to lack the motivation to champion their requests.

    You never know where people will end up, so it is a good idea to maintain a basic level of decency and politeness.

    1. NW Mossy*

      This is always in the back of my mind. You never know where people will end up, and you also never know who candidates might know. Even if a candidate is a terrible match for you, they’ll likely encounter someone in their professional life that you’d love to hire. If you leave that ex-candidate with a bad view of you, they can share that impression with others and stop someone amazing from even applying.

      As Alison notes, it costs so little to send someone a polite decline – just do it!

      1. anonintheuk*

        I was approached via linkedin by a company’s internal recruiter. The job was pretty much the same level as the one already have and did not pay much more. So I replied with a cheery ‘thanks, but you ghosted me last year when I applied direct, so I am not interested’. They were MORTIFIED.

      2. thunderbird*

        Costs little to send a polite note, and it can cost a lot to burn bridges. In this case, six to seven figures.

  14. Menefreghista Detroit*

    Thanks all for letting me vent & seeing that maybe calling her out on it won’t matter at all anyway. Can I just send her the URL for this page???!! (half kidding…)

  15. Exhausted Trope*

    The whole situation of ghosting candidates is terribly wrong. Rudeness is rampant. There doesn’t seem to be a solution except for refusing to deal with recruiters and companies who operate this way.
    A website that calls out recruiters for this behavior would be immensely satisfying.

    1. Ama*

      The biggest excuse I hear for not emailing rejected candidates is time. But I have to send a lot of rejection emails (I manage a grants process, as well as several committees that do peer-elections for new members), and even if you don’t have an automated process or want to make some customized comments, a little advance planning once goes a long way. Write up your standard template (including space for customization if you want) save it somewhere you can always find it, and then it is just a matter of copying and pasting. I also tweak the language a bit every so often but I deal with processes where people often get rejected several times.

      Informing rejected candidates should be considered a part of the timeline of any hiring process (or really, any process where only some of the candidates will get the thing they want), but too many people think about it as this “extra” bit that they don’t have time for.

      1. DecorativeCacti*

        You can set up a mail merge in an email, so at least for the first wave of people you aren’t even going to interview, you don’t even need to copy/paste.

      2. Bowl of Oranges*

        If you’re using Outlook, there is a feature called Quick Parts where you can insert canned text into an email. You can edit it before sending. Create a Quick Part with a standard rejection message, personalize slightly before sending, and you’re done.

        1. Birdbrain*

          THIS IS AMAZING. Thank you for the Quick Parts tip!

          And yeah, sending rejection messages does take time… but so does checking references, doing performance reviews, or maintaining relationships with clients and vendors. It’s just a cost of doing business properly. Personally I actually feel more positive towards companies if/when I get a rejection message (even if I’m disappointed about that particular job), because they had the courtesy to let me know.

  16. confession...*

    I recently ghosted a linkedin recruiter. lol. She sent me the job description and was super aggressive in her follow-up (I’m sorry, YOU contacted me out of the blue and while I’m interested in exploring opportunities I also can’t just drop everything). Anyway, the job really wasn’t a fit to begin with, which she should have known by my linkedin profile. I felt a little bad, but I was overwhelmed with my current job at the time and her approach turned me off a bit.

  17. mrs_helm*

    Internal/Employer recruiters…no. You may want a future job there.
    Agency/Outside recruiters….yes! I had a wonderful technical recruiter in the past, and I recommended him & his agency to others AND circled back to him 7 yrs later when I was on the market again. If he had ghosted me that wouldn’t have happened. Communication…even when it is “that company is not getting back to us”… is part of the job.

  18. SoCalHR*

    This situation sounds worse than a normal ghosting because the recruiter contacted Menefreghista Detroit, not the other way around. If you are going to approach someone for a position then you should definitely not be the one to ghost (since you know, its your job to respond).

  19. Old Cynic*

    I’d be tempted to reach out (ugh, hate that term) and ask if they could share any feedback as to my suitability, or lack thereof, for the position.

  20. TootsNYC*

    It takes hardly any time to get back to candidates who interviewed, and not bothering to do it is inexcusable.

    Especially in the days of email!

    I think a lot of us could say, “I wish I’d known earlier, even just a one-sentence email, so I could cross it off my mental list.”

    1. New Job So Much Better*

      I followed up with a recruiter who had gone missing… and when she finally called me back she was mad at me! She snapped that she couldn’t work with me anymore because the company she sent my resume to had already seen it. I had no idea how they had gotten it, and was caught off guard. Okay, so she wouldn’t follow up with me at that company, but why no others? Whole thing was so weird.

  21. jk*

    I got ghosted by a recruiter once after an interview. He didn’t reply to my two follow-up emails although he’d been all over me during the lead-up. A year passed. He reached out to me the other week so I ghosted him instead. I am not working with someone like that or any external recruiter ever again.

    I worked with a few external recruiters over the last year or two and they are all bloody awful. Better to just apply directly to a company in my opinion and not waste your time.

    Honestly, I was very concerned with how they were presenting me to potential employers. Was I just filling a gap for a quota they had to reach? Were they actively promoting other candidates over me? Or, was their lack of professionalism making me look bad as a candidate?

    I’d much rather be responsible for myself and don’t want the behavior of someone else to impact my future.

  22. Bend & Snap*

    I’ve done this when a company ghosted me after 13 interviews, and came back for something else. They were basically like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sorry we’re bad at hiring! and not sorry at all.

    Companies don’t care. If they did, they’d quit jerking people around.

    1. Sol*

      I feel like “bad at hiring” comes in at like… the 7th interview, assuming you count individual interviews as part of an all-day interview process separately.

      If you count all contacts in a single day (other than arranging logistics) as a single interview, “bad at hiring” probably comes in at like… the 4th interview. I’ll give you an initial screening interview, a technical/team fit interview, and a culture/organization fit interview, but more than that and just… why?

    2. Bend & Snap*

      It was IBM and they wanted me to talk to EVERYONE. Pretty substantial waste of time. They ghosted me after the “bad at hiring” conversation too and next time they came around I ignored.

    3. Aly*

      Do you work in biotech, by any chance? :) I HATE this industry’s hiring practices…phone screen with recruiter/HR, phone interview with hiring manager, then a full day of like 8-9 in-person interviews with different people, plus a few more phone interviews with people who couldn’t make it when you were in the office…ugh. A company recently ghosted on me after going through that whole process – I counted, and I had done SIXTEEN interviews, between phone calls and in-person meetings. But sure, don’t bother letting me know you went with another candidate, it’s not like I’ve invested any time at all into this process. Kill me.

  23. Bad Candidate*

    I was recently working with a staffing agency that never got back to me about three different interviews. They just pretended they never happened and would contact me about other openings. Luckily I found a new job and not through them so they get no commission.

  24. I think this is the job I'm hiring for*

    My first hiring process, I assumed that HR let the unsuccessful candidates know. I have absolutely no idea if they did or not, though the candidate who called something like 5 times to find out the status of the hiring process did stop calling. This time, I am going to email the unsuccessful candidates. (It helps that there are fewer of them.) I really enjoyed meeting all of them and definitely don’t want to burn any bridges–I would have happily hired any of the candidates who made it to our second round of interviews, and the only thing keeping me from doing so is that I don’t have the positions in my budget!

  25. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    Oh wow. I’m feeling kind of embarrassed now, because I thought never hearing back from an employer or an internal recruiter was normal? That’s what happened to me most of the time. Never with an external recruiter, though; they were usually like, “Ok company A called back and said you aren’t a good fit, let’s proceed with Company B” because, at the end of the day, they want to place me and get the commission. That was years ago though, so I wonder when the external recruiters started ghosting people, and why. It does not make sense.

    A positive(ish) story, a few years ago I had an interview with a startup company that went especially well. They liked me, I liked them. They invited me back for a second interview. After that one, they had my recruiter call me back and say that they didn’t think I had the skillset for the position they were interviewing for, but that they liked me and wanted to hire me, and if I could sit tight for another four months, they’d get their funding then and open a few new positions and call me back. They never called me back. Found out a year later that the funding had never come through and the company had to shut down. I’d say this is a valid reason for not calling a candidate back.

  26. Kat*

    As someone in a recruiting firm (though not in a recruiting function), I have to agree that this is incredibly rude behavoir from the recruiter you worked with. That being said, a good recruiter will not do this to you! My firm prides itself on responsiveness and candidate experience. We never ghost, in fact we probably err on the side of too much contact.

    It’s very common for us to get ghosted by candidates, frankly.

    Not to have this take on a “not all recruiters” feel, because there definitely are some shitty ones out there, but please don’t let this one bad experience turn you off from recruiters as a whole. There are many good recruiters who take a real pride in their work.

  27. mr mike*

    During my last job search I interviewed with 14 companies ( most multiple times). Two companies sent me rejection e-mails, and one company produced a job offer. Three YEARS later, I am still waiting to hear from the other ELEVEN companies I interviewed with…

    1. voluptuousfire*

      Hah. I’m still waiting on an interview I went on 12 years ago at a company that I ended up being hired for (in a different role) and worked at for 5 1/2 years!

    2. AMPG*

      My favorite was always when an interviewer would tell me up front that they were committed to a transparent hiring process and would be keeping me updated every step of the way, then ghost me.

  28. Anon for this post*

    I’ve been on both sides and yes, many recruiters do stink. I feel like I could be a consultant on how NOT to handle an interview process. :)

    IME, most of the times I was ghosted as a candidate was when it wasn’t a recruiter doing the initial screen. It was usually a team member or someone tasked with doing the initial screen. It’s rude yes, but there are many rude, discourteous people in this world. Unless the call went egregiously, I didn’t pay much attention to not getting a rejection. I had been lucky–I mostly was rejected by email, not by ghosting. On the flip side, I even had people double reject me–leaving me a voice mail AND sending a rejection email the day after. It happens!

    As someone who works in recruitment now (not a recruiter, but an admin in recruitment), there are a lot of spinning plates/balls in the air for most recruitment teams and rejecting candidates isn’t always top priority. The recruiters I work with usually set aside blocks of time each week to go through candidates they need to reject. As much as you try to be on top of it, things do fall through the cracks.

    I definitely keep my own experiences from job hunting at the forefront of my mind when I work with candidates. Its frustrating when you don’t hear from a recruiter (internal or external) about a job you interviewed for. I once interviewed with a huge tech company (think search engines) for a role that I really, really wanted and they ghosted on the external recruiter they hired to help them with this role. Even the companies can ghost on agencies!

  29. drpuma*

    I agree that it’s not worth your time to contact that recruiter directly… but you can absolutely share your experience with friends and colleagues in your industry who are job hunting. If you or your manager ever use an outside agency to hire for a job, make a point of not engaging the recruiter who ghosted you. You do have options over the longer-term, especially if you work in a smaller industry or geographical area where reputation is extra-important.

  30. Penelope*

    Absolutely find a new recruiter. When I moved to my current city, I linked up with a recruiter that had great word of mouth and they did get me several shorter term interviews and positions within six months, all that worked very well and that I enjoyed. They did however, lie to me repeatedly, sent me on interviews for companies they knew were with terrible companies, and strung my end dates on and on. At the end of six months with them, I was over it. I couldn’t trust them, I didn’t believe they had my interests at heart and so I found a new recruiter.

    That new recruiter has been great, and there has been no looking back. Don’t stay with a recruiter simply because they make you feel like you have to. Many of them hide behind loyalty speak like exclusivity clauses and “let me know if you see a job I can talk to for you”, this is only as true as your ability to find your own work with people you enjoy collaborating with. Treat it like a relationship. Many fish in the sea, don’t settle for being treated poorly.

  31. trying to be anonymous...*

    I’ve had a similar experience with a recruiter. I had a particularly bad phone interview (was locked out of the house), and the recruiter advised me to contact the interviewer directly and then after said that I shouldn’t have done it. He ghosted me after that and I felt terrible.

    Every year or so someone from the same recruiting company will contact me on linkedin saying they’ve found the perfect job for me, completely ignoring the fact that I’ve changed sectors and continents. And every time I tell them to lose my resume.

  32. Sol*

    One option is face-saving social shaming. “Hi [recruiter], Thanks for reaching out about [position]! It sounded like such an interesting role, and I recently noticed on LinkedIn that [company] recently hired someone for [position]. I wouldn’t want your emails to get lost in the spam trap, and I hope that we have the opportunity to connect again on future positions!”

    If they have a well-developed sense of social shaming, they’ll recognize it for the callout it is. ;) Unless of course their ‘ghosting’ really was the fault of spam filters, in which case you successfully avoided dressing someone down for something that wasn’t their fault! :D

    And of course, if you never want to work with them again, you can ‘lose’ their email if they ever decide to reach out again.

  33. GY*

    I recently got ghosted after 2 interviews and an email invited me to come in for an in person interview. I got back to them right away, but they never responded, ever. It’s super rude. Why invite me if you’re that close to hiring someone, and at minimum would it kill them to send out at least a basic email saying they hired someone or aren’t looking anymore? Geez.

  34. anathema*

    Recruiting is a sales game, especially when using external recruiters that only get a fee with a placement. External recruiters are selling their services to the customer, and candidates are only helpful as long as they get the recruiter a chance at a sale. Expect that these types of recruiters will be your best friend until you aren’t helpful to them. It’s not a shot at them as a person, it’s the way the external recruiting industry operates. My little joy is that generally I have a say on which ones my company will use, so ones that are really poor I won’t use when I’m on the customer end.

  35. Tuxedo Cat*

    I understand where you’re coming from. I’ve had this happen twice recently. Two different organizations, too. One was ghosting after a phone screen. Another was after I made it to final rounds. These aren’t the only two that this has happened, but they happened within the past 4-6 months. I figured out I wasn’t hired based on the timeline and then seeing the hire’s profile on their websites.

    It sucks. I would rather they send a generic form letter than hear nothing. But I don’t think you have anything to win and a whole bunch to lose if you say anything.

  36. machiamellie*

    Former recruiter here.

    For one, turnover is extremely high in the recruiting industry. At agencies like Aerotek or Accountemps, but especially with the IT positions, the focus is to get more *clients* to recruit for, not more candidates. When I worked for an agency (only 18 months; I quit over the pressure to make sales), I had to make so many sales calls and follow-up visits per week. They didn’t care how many candidates I had in my pool. It is an extremely high-pressure, high-sales, go-go-go high-energy role. Many people fresh out of college who want to work in HR start here and it can be very lucrative for those with the right personalities, but again it’s not a candidate-focused industry.

    After I worked at that agency, I did corporate recruiting for several years. Turnover is still fairly high for those positions. It’s normal in my area for people to bounce around doing recruiting for 1-2 years at each place. People chase the paycheck.

    So at my last recruiting job, I tried really hard to always get back to candidates, even if that was a “thanks but no thanks” email blast. But we had so many people reply/call to argue our hiring decision that my boss told me to stop. One guy went above my head to my boss to complain about me (even though it was Boss that made that hiring decision), then after Boss didn’t hire him, called the main line and asked to speak to the owner of the company to complain about Boss *and* me. The squeaky wheel gets the grease sometimes – they made the executive decision to only communicate with candidates who were being moved forward in the process.

    1. Shawn*

      Thanks for sharing from the “other side”. It does help us candidates to gain some insight and perspective…and kudos to you for sticking with such stressful work. I commend you!

  37. Bowl of Oranges*

    Right around the time we were getting married, my husband interviewed for and was offered a contract position. He accepted on the condition that he get 1.5 weeks off for our wedding and honeymoon which were already scheduled for the middle of the contract. It wasn’t a super long contract, so he knew there was a chance that would be a deal breaker.

    Apparently, it was because they never responded to him, even after he followed up.

    A year or so later, the same company called him to interview for a very similar position. He passed.

  38. Globetrotta*

    As annoying as it is to never hear back, this is one situation where I don’t know that better late than never applies. I heard back for a different job at current employer NINE MONTHS LATER, well after I had figured it out via linkedin and moved on with my life. I could have grown (almost) an entire tiny human in that time and it felt like it reopened the wound from the initial disappointment.

  39. TheVet*

    I was “ghosted” for over 2 months after an interview. The recruiter responded to my thank you email and…nothing. I wanted to send a terse email back after about a month, but I didn’t because I didn’t want to be That Person. It’s a great job, so I did stalk the title on LinkedIn just to see who they hired over me. Nada.

    Call back for phone interview took 30 days
    In-person interview was 10 days after that
    Sent thank you email that night
    Recruiter emailed an acknowledgement the next day
    Offer call+letter 70 days later
    Started the job 25 days after I got the call+letter

    I accepted because it really was a great job with a great org and more than doubled my salary…and I was really glad I didn’t send that email.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I, too, approach this from the position of “they have multiple candidates, they have non-interviewing-related things happening at work that they need to deal with, it takes time”; especially after I’ve been somewhat involved on the opposite side of this process, and know that it really does take time.

      I have a story similar to yours, but not as uplifting. I had to get out of a toxic job asap. An acquaintance put my resume in at her workplace, Company X. I really liked the job as it had been described to me, and wanted to work at that place.
      A few days later, someone else recommended me to a recruiter who was looking to fill a position for Company Y
      Company Y schedules an interview
      Company Y makes an offer a few days later
      I put my two weeks in at Toxic Job
      By that time, I assumed that Company X had moved on and was not interested.
      On my last day at Toxic Job, literally as I head out the door for my going-away drinks, I get an email from Company X: “they have finished reviewing your resume and would like to see you for an in-person interview”.
      Oops, too late.
      I worked at Company Y for over six years and still am close friends with people I’d met there. No idea what happened to Company X.

      1. Shawn*

        You’d think that companies would realize that they are missing out on some candidates when they drag their feet. It does make one wonder…..

  40. Bookworm*

    This is frustrating!!! This has happened to me more often than I’d like, from recruiters/hiring managers asking me if I’m available to interview (with no follow-up after or only a response to let me know they filled the position without meeting me!) or sometimes an interview + maybe additional steps like a sample task and no response even with a follow-up. One that really hurt was when I met the head of a firm and I thought we had (at least) a pleasant conversation for networking (which was the purpose of that particular meeting) but he never seemed to know anyone at any place I was applying to and never responded to my application when his firm had an opening (and I had experience, too!). This last scenario was a little different but it also really turned me off to networking.

    I’ll admit that I’m not someone who’s been willing to escalate this but there’s always the website Glassdoor! It hasn’t helped me find a job and hasn’t been directly helpful for interviews (more like, “good to know”) but I’ve found it can be cathartic to write about my experience. :D

  41. Also a DC person*

    Ugh you have my sympathies. If it were a company I would recommend leaving a review on Glassdoor regarding their interview process. I recently sat in on a 2-hour interview with 5 different people. Adding commute time, I took 3.5 hours off of work and stayed late in the office to make up from the time I took off. I then went home and wrote all 5 interviewers a customized thank you note tied to our conversations. It’s been a month since and…nothing. Not even a follow up “Thank you for considering us but we went with another candidate” email.

    1. Shawn*

      I guess this type of behavior shows us who we DON’T want to work for at the end of the day but, it still doesn’t make it okay.

  42. Hotelier*

    When I first moved to England (originally from America), I applied for a few jobs and had 3 interviews at different hotels – each one went well, but they never followed up with me after! I sent the standard thank-you email, followed up a week later, and nothing…I even tried phoning a few weeks later but my message was never returned. It’s a shame, because now I’ll never visit those hotels as a guest. If I was interested enough to interview there, you’d think they’d realise that I might be a potential customer as well. Or maybe I’m just petty.

  43. Shawn*

    I’ve had this happen more often than not. I’ve even had some recruiters bold enough to ghost me, and then call me again at a later date to discuss another opportunity. I will usually email them back to let them know the reason I won’t do business with them but, I doubt it matters much to them at the end of the day unfortunately. Good customer service (all across the board) seems really hard to come by these days.

  44. Judith*

    I got an on-site interview, after a 45-minute phone interview, through my own application, both with the same HR person (the on-site involved another person as well). After the interview she walked me to the elevator and, as the doors closed, gave me a thumbs-up. I sent a thank-you email, and we had corresponded several times prior by email as well, including to set up the interview.

    Well, several days later I got an automated thank-you-for-applying-but-we’re-not-using-you from the job site through which I had applied. I would have hoped for at least a personal email thanking me for my time, from the person with whom I had interacted over so many days.

  45. selena81*

    ..Because of that, if you are in a position to be able to speak up and risk the potential hit (and not everyone is), it’s a good deed to others if you’re willing to. If you decide to do it, just make sure you do it professionally and politely, since otherwise you’ll be too easily dismissed. And frankly, no matter how professional and polite you are, you may still be dismissed, until enough other people say something too. Which is additionally frustrating. The whole thing is frustrating…

    This very much.
    I am not a big fan of being insulted on other people’s behalve (because they’ll often hate you mingling in their affaires).
    But if you ever find yourself a victim and feel that you can speak up while others in the same position can’t then you more or less have a moral obligation to do so (within reason: ‘the first woman do X’ should not feel pressured to spend many hours every week as a woman’s activist on top of working on X)

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