Ghosted? You will have the last laugh...

Kind of a mean post today, but thought I would share regardless given how many people in this industry get ghosted by employers. I'm here to tell you the good news. If you stay around your industry/sector long enough, you will have the last laugh at a bunch of the people who ghosted you. Here are a list of my experiences. Note that some of these literally took a decade to happen.

  1. One of my first equity research interviews. Went in. Interview went great and was then ghosted. First interviewer was fired about two years later. Got another job at a different firm and was fired after another two years. Talked with me at an industry event years down the road and asked me for job leads. Kind of sad. Half-heartedly helped the dude out. Got to know the second interviewer in my years in the industry.  Almost 5 or 6 years later, he offered me a job, I turned it down. Not out of spite, but because I had plenty of better opportunities.

  2. Interviewed for another ER position.  Went in for three seperate interviews. Got ghosted after the third interview.  In the mean time, I got a better job. Firm comes back 4 months later and asks me to interview for a fourth time as a candidate fell through. I turn them down. Analyst is fired less than two years later and I believe is now out of the industry.

  3. Interview with an investment bank. Went really well and got ghosted. Fast forward 5 years again. Same MD recently came to pitch a buy side mandate to our company. Let's just say that he didn't get it.

  4. Ghosted at another investment bank. Firm comes back literally six months after saying nothing and offers me to interview again. I turn it down. Bank continues to pitch our company. Fast forward a couple of more years and the group goes under.

Point of this post is to make WSO users feel better about some of the BS in recruitment behavior. The other point is to remind seniors like myself to always treat juniors with a modicum of respect. If you're interviewing young, smart, and ambitious kids, even if you don't offer them a position, odds are someone will.  And after that, odds are good that they'll be working on the other side of a deal at some other point or they will join the PE firm that you're trying to pitch in near future. Furthermore, odds are, in this business, that you may be up today and in the gutter tomorrow. Just be nice and burn as few bridges as possible even if it's with someone who might be a nobody in the industry today. Seems like common sense to me but obviously, it needs to be said given the experience of many WSO users.

TLDR: Don't be disrespectful to people in the interview process, the world is a small place.

EDIT: Given the comments below, I think some people are misunderstanding my post. I mean "last laugh" as a figure of speech. I don't mean that I'm literally waiting years and years holding onto grudges and waiting for someone's downfall. I could care less - I'm simply observing the outcome years down the road and how paths can cross again between a job candidate and an interviewer. In addition, you can be an interviewer one day in this business and easily find yourself a job candidate the next day. So, approach other candidates with some basic decency. As I noted in the post, I continue to take meetings with some of these MDs, one offered me a job years down the road once we got to know each other better, and I tried to help another one get a job. A person with a grudge does none of those things. I'm simply saying that if you ghost someone today, you're not starting on a good foot should you ever run into that person in the future and it's foolish to do in an industry which is a small world. For some strange (perhaps personal reason), a lot of commenters below seem to be angry at this fairly basic concept. 

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (22)

Most Helpful
  • Investment Manager in HF - Other
Nov 23, 2021 - 12:55pm

I understand what you are saying and think your overall intentions are good, but I think you are missing the mark on a few of these. Your #3 is especially concerning (if you let your emotions about being ghosted impact business decisions - it appears to be what you are implying). 

I would keep it simpler: no need to have a first or last laugh, focus on your success, the other crap doesn't matter. Basically, be rational.

There are many reasons you get ghosted, sometimes HR forgets to follow up, sometimes things get lost in the process, and sometimes people are just a**es; while I firmly believe in responding to every candidate, sometimes mistakes happen. In general, I agree that it points to a disorganized firm (or worse), but you really don't need to take these things personally (similar to rejections). Yes, having common courtesy would be ideal, but it doesn't always happen. I think more focus on becoming successful yourself and not worrying about those people (especially the ones that are crappy people) is an easier way to live. 

I've been rejected so many times in my life I've lost count. Many of those were completely warranted, many times I never heard back, oh well, life goes on.

Nov 23, 2021 - 2:12pm

I understand what you are saying and think your overall intentions are good, but I think you are missing the mark on a few of these. Your #3 is especially concerning (if you let your emotions about being ghosted impact business decisions - it appears to be what you are implying). 

No, that's not what I'm saying. If someone brings me a great deal, I'll look at it regardless, but if you're an MD pitching the same deal as 15 other banks, then I have the option of being a little petty and going with any of those other 14 banks. On this side of the table, that's what it usually looks like.

Also, totally agree on your second part of your comments. Just move on with your life and be successful. That said, if you treat people in the industry with disrespect, don't be surprised if it comes back to you. That's all I'm saying.  Not trying to hold a vendetta against someone. Note I mentioned helping one of the interviewers earlier.

Nov 23, 2021 - 3:14pm

I don't hold grudges but this is common sense. Banking is a relationship business. If you treat someone badly, don't expect to be treated well if you need to go back to them one day.  Human interaction 101.

EDIT: If you're taking away from this that the OP holds grudges rather than the actual message, "be nice and respectul to juniors as it's a small world", you might be a part of the problem. Just be respectful to the people who took the time to reach out and interview. Is that so hard?

Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
  • Investment Manager in HF - Other
Nov 23, 2021 - 7:02pm

You need to have thicker skin and not look at every situation as you getting screwed. If someone is truly a d*ck, fine write them off, but the "don't burn bridges" rule doesn't go away if you think someone treated you poorly, you could be destroying connections with them or their network. Seems like a bad move over what appears like small things (being "ghosted"). 

Nov 23, 2021 - 7:40pm

Wait wait wait here....think this through a little more to its logical conclusion. I agree to a large extent with "don't burn bridges", but who is burning the bridge here? If a candidate tries to follow up with the interviewer twice or three times and gets no response, it is the INTERVIEWER who is burning the bridge. That's kind of my whole point. Never burn bridges even if it's a young applicant who is a nobody right now.  It's a two-way street on burning bridges. Keep that bridge open. Could be as simple as a two-minute email thanking them for their time and letting them know they moved on to another candidate.

Nov 24, 2021 - 7:20pm

If a company or person has ghosted you, you probably don't want to work with them. It says a lot about the way they do business. Sure we can sit here all day and give them the benefit of the doubt, people are busy, blah blah...but the fact of the matter is there are certain standards that make a business successful.

I am not saying you need to burn your bridges but don't write it off as some kind of acceptable behavior. Successful businesses don't do that.

And remember you haven't even gotten a job yet. Imagine what things are like behind the scenes. Do they do that with clients? You don't even work with them yet and they are willing to passively give you the middle finger after you have spent time preparing to interview with them. Not cool. Definitely move on and seek a sense of justice by being a more successful professional then they will ever be.

Nov 24, 2021 - 7:58pm

Seems you take being ghosted personally, and in reality it almost never is. I would understand if this post was made by a student applying for a summer job and hasn't been through many interview processes, but holding grudges years into your career clearly shows lack of emotional intelligence / maturity. The idea of "getting the last laugh" because someone didn't reply to your follow-up is pretty childish.

All an interview is meant to represent is two parties coming together in a professional setting to see if there's a fit - if what you offer matches what the organization is looking for (and vice versa), you're hired. If not, either party has the option to walk away - I want to emphasize that because it's never a unilateral decision. What I find the most petty about your post is you tie your candidacy (or lackthereof when being "ghosted") to the agent, rather than the organization. Let's face it - potential job opportunities don't pan out for a multitude of reasons (better candidates, bad timing, hiring freeze, one of many interviewers didn't like your tie, etc.), many of which are out of your (and more importantly, the other person's) control.

I get there's "professional etiquette", but the world doesn't operate under a strict book of rules and there's no point of losing sleep over it. All you get from getting back at someone is a mental win that lasts 5 seconds - if that's what makes you happy, you do you and no one can change that. I operate with the perspective that life moves on, and if this opportunity doesn't pan out move onto the next one. Have to say I've been pretty happy.

Nov 24, 2021 - 8:20pm

All I'm asking is for some basic emotional maturity that you can respond with a 2-minute e-mail to an applicant letting them know that they didn't get the position. If you don't think that's a normal human thing to do, then I don't need to hear any preaching from you about emotional maturity.

It's not a fun thing to do writing those kinds of emails but it IS almost the definiton of emotional maturity. Don't treat people like disposal objects. And don't throww a hissy fit when you realize that some of those people may not think highly off you when you come pitching a deal to them 5 years down the road. That's a normal human reaction.

There is no person out there who treats others like shit and is emotionally mature buddy. Stop trying to normalize bad behavior.

Also, note that you write about this as if I lost sleep over it every single night. Nope moved on a long time ago. My post is just an observation of what transpired years down the road.

Nov 24, 2021 - 8:29pm

Your post makes a lot of assumptions to the poster and then end by self congratulating your point of view with some sort of sense of self righteousness.

Feedback is one thing. Condescension is another. Find a better way to communicate if you're going to pat yourself on the back for your high level of "emotional intelligence."

  • Managing Director in PE - Other
Nov 25, 2021 - 7:45pm

I wholeheartedly agree with this post (But please note that the following comments are mine alone and not trying to represent ops views). For those of you who want to lick everyone's ass no matter what in this business, you are part of the problem and while it may help you in some instances, it likely won't help in any significant way.  When someone acts like I dick I take notice and others do too, and we def compare notes. It it's funny to watch the smug eat shit, it is what it is. 

There is an extremely low bar in finance for someone to be considered a "good guy" or a "good friend"  it's pathetic.  It's reached the point where this "hes a good guy" bullshit allows total bums to continue to get hired on the street. I'd rather keep a buck and say, this guy is a piece of shit and an interloper. 

Learn who is in your corner and who isn't, the people who are behind you, always fight for them, the rest, eh be honest about them.  

  • Investment Manager in HF - Other
Nov 25, 2021 - 8:15pm

I don't think anyone is disagreeing with this, but ghosting someone (again through HR and potentially at large firms) is NOT a reason to get so bent out of shape. Yes, pay attention to bad people, yes, you don't want to give those people a free pass. But, no, don't get all out of sorts because you were ghosted, you need to be able to handle that better. Ideally it doesn't happen, but it is SUCH a small thing (and this coming from someone who bends over backwards to talk with all candidates as a partner at a firm). 

  • Managing Director in PE - Other
Nov 26, 2021 - 7:03pm

My points are not totally tied to ghosting and I expected your comment - to an extent I agree and HR has some folks by the balls about being careful communicating with candidates so I get it, but it's still poor form. 

Nov 26, 2021 - 3:28am

Natus ea optio esse voluptatibus dolorum. Consequatur nisi deleniti rerum sint fugiat blanditiis quia. Aut aperiam quisquam dolores reiciendis et. Hic occaecati aut voluptates ab omnis dolor.

Eius molestiae corporis omnis tempore cumque. Consequatur ipsam et molestiae quod numquam laboriosam minus. Placeat ratione ut repellat. Inventore nostrum est cum ea.

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

November 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (10) $853
  • Vice President (40) $360
  • Associates (236) $235
  • 2nd Year Analyst (144) $156
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (34) $154
  • Intern/Summer Associate (107) $146
  • 1st Year Analyst (514) $136
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (394) $84