‘Ghosting’ in the workplace: How it can have lasting impact

What is ghosting?

The term, or phrase, of ghosting is relatively new when it comes to the workplace. Put simply: Ghosting is when someone will suddenly break off all forms of communication without any reason. To make matters worse, it usually means that person will not get back in touch.

In the workforce, it could mean a few different things. Coming from a staffing company at Robert Half Technology & The Creative Group, we’ve seen it all, including: 

  • A job seeker doesn’t show up for the interview and won’t return your calls or e-mails;
  • The job seeker makes it past at least one interview, but never responds to an offer that follows;
  • The job seeker accepts the job, but then fails to show up for work on day one;
  • A company shows interest in a candidate, but fails to acknowledge that person after the interview. 
Christina Giglio


The first question most people have when it comes to ghosting is simple: Why? The answer is not so simple. Our experience shows that, in a tightening labor market, it happens because candidates have multiple offers. They might receive one offer, then get a better one, accept the second and forget about the first. Some just don’t like to deliver bad news — rejecting an offer or an interview can be uncomfortable — so they opt not to deliver it at all. Other candidates might not have extensive experience and don’t understand the ramifications of ghosting a potential employer.

It is important to note ghosting is not just a move a candidate will pull. We’ve seen plenty of companies ghost a candidate. Perhaps the interview didn’t go as expected, yet the company fails to deliver the news that the candidate did not get the job. Or the company thought it would be extending an offer to a candidate and then the funding isn’t available for the position. Instead of delivering the news, it simply disappears.

The impact of ‘ghosting’

Ghosting can have a serious long-term impact on both candidates and employers. For starters, it can really prolong the hiring process. If a company needs to fill a position fast and a promising candidate disappears, it can be costly. From both sides, it is simply unprofessional. If you are a candidate, you never know when the person you ghosted might reappear during your career. You don’t want to be known as the person who fled the interview or offer without any explanation. And, for employers, your brand reputation is always on the line. Ghosting someone can put your company’s name at risk — especially with job sites such as Glassdoor.

A resolution

No matter what industry, it is always important to remember to be courteous. Whether you are a hiring manager or a candidate, set expectations and deliver on your promises. Overcommunicate in the beginning of the process to ensure expectations are set and neither party is left wondering when it will hear from the other. Closing the door on a person or a company isn’t easy, but if done respectfully and gracefully, it helps build a formidable reputation for both parties.

Christina Giglio, regional vice president, Robert Half Technology and The Creative Group.