In dating terms ghosting means the sudden end of all contact and communication without any warning or explanation. Interestingly the term has found meaning in professional settings where employers or employees ghost one another. However, in this instance, Business Insider explains that, “being ghosted when you’re applying for a job doesn’t mean sending in an application and never hearing back — that happens to everyone. It means you applied, assumed the interview went well, and expected to hear good news soon.”
*Teboho Thebe is one such candidate; a Labour Relations graduate who interned at the Department of Employment and Labour in 2017. Although he currently works for his brother’s tiling and ceiling business, he has been applying for job posts and he has been ghosted by a government department. Thebe says he applied for an online post and after completing the online screening, they requested that he submit certified documents and he was shortlisted for an interview. After the interview, he was then told that they’d be contacted after six weeks but the department didn’t follow through on their word.
Thebe says he called to follow up, twice. The first time he was told that the deliberation process is still ongoing. The second time he called, a month later, he still didn’t get any concrete feedback. Instead, he says, “there was a vacancy for the very same position [in another area] and I applied again, and they called me again for an interview”. Thebe says he called the recruiter enquiring about the previous post he’d applied for telling him that he never received feedback and he was told not to “worry about that one, [but to] just apply for this one”. However, three months after the second interview he received a regret letter which stated that there were some discrepancies with the application process and that he’d need to reapply for the post. But the post was never advertised.
This is one of the many stories of young professionals who were ghosted by companies following promising interviews and, in some cases, feedback. But they are left waiting, wondering and overthinking. HR consultant, Kgauta Motsie, says budget cuts and psychometric assessments are contributing factors to companies ghosting. He, however, points out that companies provide training for recruiters on how to conduct interviews and maintain transparency without creating false hope. He also explains that sometimes companies undergo restructuring after interviews where they have to keep that position on hold, but he adds that candidates should be made aware of this development.
Motsie advises against putting all your eggs in one basket even after a promising interview. He says, “you are allowed to follow-up [either with the company or the agency] after a given timeline” to find out the progress of your interview. Motsie says he thinks that even though companies promise to keep in touch after the interview, it’s possible that another candidate performed better than you but they still want to put you on their database in case a similar position opens up to avoid lengthy interview processes.
Motsie emphasises the importance of feedback after an interview to save the candidates’ time, preparation by the panel a few days before and for candidates to pay attention to and give relevant answers to competency based questions.