Why Were You ‘Ghosted’?

Martin Yate By Martin Yate June 18, 2019
Why Were You ‘Ghosted’?

​Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column.

I've been very fortunate to have had a progressive career in HR. I graduated from college in 2013 and was hired a few months later to work as an HR generalist for a Fortune 500 company. I was promoted a little over a year later. I then took a job with a midsize manufacturing company as an HR business partner. One year later, I was promoted to HR manager.

I've be
en actively seeking new opportunities and have applied to about 70 companies over the last few months. I've had a lot of phone interviews and have been asked to come onsite by several companies, but I withdrew from their selection processes. I'm a little picky, I guess.

However, some companies have asked me to come onsite or to let them know when I'm available to do so, and then they "ghosted" me. One company even flew me to its headquarters for an interview and then ghosted me.

Those are, of course, the jobs I really want. It feels like I can't get past the phone interview. What's happening?

You can be "ghosted" for many reasons that have nothing to do with you. At the same time, whenever a job search stalls, it's easy to point the finger of blame and not notice the three fingers pointing right back at you. So you are ahead of the game because you are looking inward for what is going sideways and why. Self-awareness is key to success in any important endeavor.

When making a strategic career move, it's a good idea to keep track of activities that lead to good results so you can do more of those, and activities that don't produce good results so that you can learn from your mistakes. Your question references two areas we should address.

Professional Weaknesses

Working professionals often share the same two professional weaknesses:

  • Lack of knowledge and experience in getting job interviews.
  • Lack of experience turning job interviews into job offers.

They're weaknesses because we spend less time on these activities than anything else we do in our work life.

Why Do the Interview

You make two interesting but contradictory statements: "It feels like I can't get past the phone interview" and "[I] have been asked to come onsite by several companies, but I withdrew from their selection processes. I'm a little picky, I guess."

You say you can't get past the phone interviews, but when you do advance, you frequently pull back from the face-to face-interviews—which are the ones that lead to job offers.

You pass this off as being picky, but you applied to those companies, so why drop out now? Perhaps because of what you read about the company online? If that's the case, isn't it better to make your decisions based on firsthand experience rather than on hearsay, especially when that interview experience will help you improve a critical career skill?

To learn how to turn interviews into job offers, you need to build experience in this area instead of getting cold feet. When you do go to interviews, they don't turn into offers, and that could be because your interviewing skills need improvement.

Never turn down a job interview, because each one is a chance to improve your interviewing skills. To strengthen those skills, don't go to interviews to decide whether you want the job or not. Instead, go with two goals in mind:

  • Get an offer. Whether you want the job or not is irrelevant until you're offered the job. Besides, what's the worst possible outcome? Your ego gets a boost, and, if you turn down the job in a professional manner, you have new contacts for future work.
  • Keep interviewing until you have evidence that you are learning to turn a career weakness—in-person interviewing—into a career skill.

Have a question for Martin about advancing or managing your career? From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to YourCareerQA@shrm.org. We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.

Packed with practical, honest, real-world guidance for successfully navigating common HR career challenges, Martin Yate's new book, The HR Career Guide: Great Answers to Tough Career Questions, is available at the SHRMStore. Order your copy today!


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