Ghosting post-interviews

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Q:  I recently accepted a verbal offer, after multiple interviews.  I left the company’s office and we were shaking hands, as if was my first day of work.  The recruiter called me when I was on the train headed home.  “An offer is coming!”  They wanted to check at least one reference, and then a written offer would be sent via secure email.  They contacted my reference and he said the same thing as the recruiter.  “Expect a written offer.”  Crickets, nothing.  No response to my calls and my emails.  No offer letter has been received.  Complete silence.  I had told a few close family and friends that I was expecting an offer.  My confidence is shattered.  I am embarrassed that I even told others of this expected new job.  I am devastated.  What do you think of this process?


A: I am sorry.  This sounds like a difficult situation.  It is even more aggravating that no one is responding to your inquiries.  Unfortunately, no response most often translates to no interest and no offer.

I have heard this labeled as “ghosting” or “the black hole.”  It is unnerving and can make you re-think every interaction, including email exchange, live conversation and even what you wore to the interview!

Positive feedback can certainly lead you to assume a positive outcome.  Multiple interviews typically convey a strong level of interest and possibly a written offer.  Additionally, checking references usually means an offer may be forthcoming, but it is not a guarantee.  Although rare, some companies will check references on several final candidates.   However, it sounds like you were given a verbal offer, but never received the written offer, which was expected to be sent via email.  Even if the secure email had landed in spam or junk, surely you would have received a call or email explaining when it was sent.  Though it is disappointing to hear, you may never know what happened.  Another candidate may have been offered the job.  The role may have been put on hold.  A reference may have given the company negative information.  You will probably never fully learn exactly what transpired.  You can try to dissect where things fell off track.  It may not be worth examining and re-examining.

I too would be disappointed in that process.  In my opinion, it is important to close the loop with candidates, even if they are not receiving an offer.  Most offers are first presented verbally and then, shortly after, a written offer letter is presented.  Although rare, even written offers can be rescinded.  It is unusual but it happens.  The “ghosting” experience should never happen.  Even if they emailed you and explained that a written offer was not forthcoming, I believe that it is more acceptable than what you experienced.

I think you should also communicate to your friends that you expected an offer, but you never received one officially.  You can explain that all signs were positive but a written offer was never presented.  There may be friends or family members who have experienced something similar.

It is an unfortunate situation.  Employers take notice; this is not how to treat candidates.  An email, phone call or even a snail-mail letter could have been sent explaining that no offer was forthcoming.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.