Getting ghosted in a sexual context is one thing – at this point it is almost expected from time to time, says the jaded New Yorker. However, I have been hearing more and more stories from completely talented friends who have experienced being ghosted on professionally, in the interview process. This almost seems more personal than the kind where you're naked for periods of time in an unfamiliar apartment which may or may not have an incontinent cat. I have had two experiences of professional ghosting that have burned a seething hole of anger in my brain, and they are in the same folder as the few times a dude dated and dodged.
It was, oh, 2008 and I had just graduated from a small Catholic college upstate with a degree in journalism. I was Lifestyles Editor of our campus newspaper, co-founded a fashion magazine that ran bi-annually, and had a laminated press pass complete with Myspace photo that I kept in my wallet. My saint of a mom would drive me 5 hours to the city for unpaid internship interviews at a moment's notice, so I could fulfill my dream of working in fashion making no money among people who would have Louboutins shipped to the office only to throw them like trash under their desks.
I had nailed down an interview with the daughter of a major fashion icon who was starting her own creative agency. Her name alone gave me goosebumps, and I knew I could impress the hell out of her. This was 2008, that weird cusp of time when some people had smartphones but it wasn't expected. We emailed to meet in the morning at a coffee shop in the West Village, and I printed out my resume and put together the best damn portfolio a 22-year-old could.
I waited in that coffee shop for two hours, palms sweating, forehead sweating... basically everything sweating because I was nervous as hell, it was Manhattan in August, and I was wearing what college told me was an "interview outfit." She never showed.
It wasn't until we, much later, drove back to our hotel in Jersey and I checked my email using the lobby PC that I saw that she had changed the location, and thought I hadn't shown. I emailed back, she agreed to meet the next morning, we extended our stay, and I got ready for Sweaty Day Number Two.
The next morning, she did show up, breezy and gorgeous, glowy in the heat. She had forgotten her wallet, but ordered an iced tea anyway, apologizing to the barista as he fumbled on his words and said it was fine. Up until that point, I didn't know that not paying for things because you forgot your wallet was an option. I have since never tried it, but my hair isn't as shiny as hers was. She was genuinely impressed by me, maybe shocked that I was prepared and driven – she kept commenting on how mature I seemed.
Before she left, she pulled out her wallet and gave me her card (her wallet... the one she said she forgot). Weeks went by with no email, and finally I caved and contacted her. No answer for another week – then one single fired-off email that literally said, "Don't you want a job that pays?"
I responded, then nothing. Had I been any less mentally stable, I would have jumped off the highest dorm building, or hung myself with an H&M scarf she probably wouldn't have touched. I luckily nailed an amazing position a few weeks later with NYLON, so I think I dodged a major, manicured bullet.
That was years ago, and I chalked it up to her being a ditzy socialite who honestly I think just wanted someone "cooler" to work for her. Then, after two unpaid internships, one barely-paid position, and years in an impressive managerial position, freelancing throughout, it happened to me again.
It was now 2014, and I was in search of a copywriting position at either a magazine or brand. I had landed an interview with one of the country's biggest luxury fashion houses, and didn't skimp when it came to the professional yet stylish interview outfit. It went amazingly, the interview was almost two hours long, and I bonded hardcore with their fashion director. When they asked to have me back, my first thought was "Damnit, I need a new outfit." Shoutout to my mom and Zara, for helping me out on that one!
Second interview, nailed it. Third interview, nailed it. Then it was time to do "a small project." Said small project involved conceptualizing and writing an entire look book, watching a few videos on the current line, and essentially writing an essay on the brand. It was, by no stretch of the imagination, small. However, it was really fun and something I would have enjoyed doing, and it was done well. Whatever happened to hiring someone based on their personality, experience, and just a good feeling? I checked my work about a dozen times, had a friend in the industry look at it as well, sent it in, and waited.
And...weeks went by. I sent numerous follow-up emails, and total crickets. I never heard a thing. Since then, I have heard so many similar stories from people, going in for multiple interviews, doing actual work, never to hear from them again. I just think it literally takes three seconds to send an email being like, "No thanks." We need closure, in all relationships!
Now being happily employed and as busy as I wanna be, I can look back and laugh at these experiences with a general "wtf attitude," but at the time, it was super frustrating and I took it personally. All relationships take mental space, physical time, copious amounts of caffeine, paper cuts, and heartbreak. Papercuts and Heartbreak – the name of my imaginary emo band.
So what's up, guys? Have you ever been professionally ghosted?