A few years ago, I was the store manager of a specialty candy store. As one might expect, one of my many responsibilities was the hiring and retention of staff. The positions I had available were only part-time, and of course everyone and their mother was hiring at the mall that summer, so finding people to come in and interview with me was a lot harder than it could have been. Even when people did interview, getting them to show up on their first day if I did extend them a job offer was sometimes even tougher. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been ghosted by new employees or interviewees.
Before I start in on the rest of this post, though, I have a confession to make. I, too, was guilty of some heavy ghosting. There were many times where I did not call people back to tell them that I was moving on with different candidates or that they weren’t right for me. That was my bad. There’s no excuse for it. Sure, I was dangerously crunched for time every second of every day, but they did take the time to come and talk with me and I did not return the favor. To those who may have been ghosted by me, I’m sorry.
It is becoming more and more common these days, on both ends of the spectrum. At my current job, my bosses had several interviews scheduled over the past few months. As usual, many didn’t show up for the interviews. One guy they ok’d right away and passed him on to the district manager for a final interview. That took a little time, as she was on vacation, but the guy patiently stuck around and seemed eager for the job. He eventually did get his third interview and was offered the job. He passed his background check, my store manager got his personnel packet printed out and ready to go, and he and I both eagerly awaited him on his first day.
He never showed. The manager called and left him a couple voicemails over the next couple of days, but he never responded and after the mandatory three day waiting period, he was terminated in the system. He will never work for Vitamin Shoppe or any sister company ever, despite a wealth of experience in the supplement industry. I later found out from a friend of mine that the guy had gone back to work for GNC. Good for him, I guess. I just wish he would have told us instead of burning a huge bridge like that. His loss.
Over the years, I’ve applied to countless jobs. The vast majority of those never got back to me. They did not even give me the common courtesy of a generic form letter thanking me for applying. I feel that this is a bullshit attitude for companies to have. I get that time is short, and that not get many people are brave enough to tell an applicant “no.” Having been one, though, and yes I am not the best person to be saying this based on my above confession, but you need to kind of have a backbone if you’re going to be a hiring manager. People take time out of their busy lives (especially if they’re unemployed) to fill out longer and longer applications, take any number of aptitude tests, and upload pages of documents even though the same information is usually required to be manually entered into the application itself. And I’m only talking about the online applications. If we count the ones you have to fill out by hand and actually physically hand in to a manager, that adds even more effort to the mix. Blatantly ignoring the applicant and not even giving them the common courtesy to give them any sort of response is just rude. It shows that you don’t care much about potential employees and might not only permanently turn them off from considering you in the future, but might also lose you their business if they are a customer. It’s just unprofessional.
Applicants, same thing applies for you. Like I said, hiring managers do much more than just hire (not counting HR recruiters, whose primary job IS to recruit and interview). They take time out of their lives to interview people, and if they do push you up to the next step it usually involves and even greater investment in time and energy, which usually takes away from other required paperwork, inventory counts, customer service, sales, or whatever other goals they have to meet. You should be honored if they want to give you a shot. Ghosting them is a huge waste of their time, and the consequences are shitty. Not only have you burned a bridge with them, but a lot of times if it’s a corporation you are blacklisted in the system for good. God forbid you have the rare manager with a photographic memory. People do switch jobs, you know. I went from managing at the mall to managing for a different franchise owner downtown Grand Rapids. Someone who ghosted me at the mall tried applying for my new store. Did I interview them? Nope, and I told the owner about her and he made a note on her application to never consider her because of her past actions. Nothing personal, but we don’t have time to waste on people with commitment issues.
People just need to start holding themselves to high standards and respect themselves enough to either follow through with a commitment or politely decline the opportunity. That’s the only sure-fire way to ensure that the practice of ghosting does not become the norm in today’s business world. People are better than that. They need to start acting like it.