Sometimes you leave a job interview and you just know it went well. Maybe that's just how you feel, or perhaps someone on the other side of the table said it and told you to expect a call.
That happened to a person in my orbit a few months back. She had one phone interview that lasted over an hour and seemed encouraging. That was followed by a second hourlong call with the person making the hiring decision, who promised to set up an in-person final meeting "as soon as possible." After that, an email was sent apologizing for the delay. And then, nothing.
Follow-up emails (two, spaced a week apart) were ignored, and two positive interviews turned into a ghosting. That was frustrating for the applicant, who later discovered through her own sleuthing that an internal candidate got the position.
It soured a viable candidate on an organization that is likely to have significant need for more good employees going forward. But it could have been turned into a growth opportunity.
What should you do?
It can be frustrating to expect the hiring process to move forward only to have it stop short. It's worse if you get ghosted, but an unexpected "We're going in another direction" email isn't fun, either.
When either happens, the knee-jerk reaction is to think negatively of the company for leading you on. It may indeed have been doing so, or it's possible that circumstances changed at the last minute.
I once lost a big-ticket job to a person much more qualified than I was who became a candidate at the last minute due to an illness in the family that forced a relocation.
In my case, one of the people who interviewed me told me what happened and ultimately offered me a different position (which I declined). Sometimes, however, you won't know what happened -- but that does not have to mean the end of your journey.
Instead of being angry, take the high road. After it's clear you did not get the job, send a letter to each person you met or spoke with thanking them for their time. Express your continued interest in the company and ask if there's anything you can work on that will make you a better candidate next time.
That won't always garner a response, but sometimes it will open a dialogue. You might find out what happened (the boss' cousin became a last-minute candidate), or you might learn that you have a weakness as a candidate that needs fixing.
If you can show grace in defeat or when you've been dealt a disappointing hand, that shows a lot about you. It's very possible that the company actually did like you, but something unforeseen kept you from being hired. (I once went through a very long interview process at a major technology company only to have the job eliminated before it was offered to me.)
By being a good sport and embracing the contacts you made, you might find you will almost certainly be a candidate for other open positions at that company. You will also be someone whom the people you connect with will recommend when colleagues at other companies ask for candidates.
Not getting a job you think you have landed can be crushing. Stay positive, do the right thing, and your setback can turn into your success.