9 Insanely Practical Tips That Actually Help With Candidate No Shows

This is how I feel when a candidate doesn’t show up for an interview:

First I feel annoyed, then angry. A little later my anger turns into disappointment as if it was my fault. As if I haven’t done a good enough job building our brand or even selling the position. Finally, my disappointment turns into righteousness. I end up telling myself: “I work my ass off trying to promote our brand and vacancies. SO IT’S NOT ON ME! IT’S THE CANDIDATE’S FAULT!”

Have you ever felt a bit like this? Kind of a rollercoaster wouldn’t you say? And in fact, not very professional… The reality is that it’s not about me, our brand or the position. It’s not about the candidates being unprofessional. The reality is: IT’S NOT OVER!

Here at Movinhand we are very aware of the fact that no matter how the interviews are scheduled, an interview cancellation or no-show is an incredibly frustrating experience for any hiring manager.

When you consider all the time spent leading up to an interview, a no-show means more than just a missed opportunity to meet. It is a waste of time, money and effort.

At Movinhand we believe that, in many ways, the dating world can be similar to recruiting and interviewing. You meet someone, you either hit off and decide to see each other again, or it’s just not meant to be. Of course, there is always the possibility to be stood up on a date or an interview. The question that is more important is: what are actionable ways to improve either proactively or after the no-show?

The first and most important point is not giving up after the 1st no-show. I cannot stress how much this has improved our numbers here at Movinhand. Going back to my intro, I know how frustrating a no-show is. And who wants a candidate who does not show at least the basic decency of canceling the interview. We think to ourselves, ‘this candidate is either clueless or simply obnoxious’. We translate a no-show into a clear sign of unprofessionalism.

We recruiters seem often to forget the simple fact that many candidates have not interviewed dozens of times in their lifetimes. Especially the young candidates are often very fearful and intimidated. The no-show is often not a result of indifference but in fact the opposite. After years of following up with candidates that have stood me up, I have come to realize that more often than not it is a result of a last minute pressure freak out… Their initial mistake then propels into a vicious circle of bad manners. They become really embarrassed after a no-show, so they simply stop replying to emails to avoid facing up to the issue…

I would advise to get straight back on the horse and go after the candidate. They have gotten this far which means they are interested. And you have given them an interview which means they are qualified. Statistically, you’ll spend much less effort turning this candidate around than going through another 30 leads to get a qualified applicant to this stage of your hiring funnel.

I would advise that you go even further by letting the issue go completely, not mentioning it again. Simply pickup from where you left of and schedule the interview again as if the no-show never happened. You may now be thinking:”this guy is such a pushover!” That may be true but I turn a no-show into a hire one out of three times… How’s that for a pushover?

Before nailing the above don’t even read further. This is non-negotiable. The war on talent has heated up once again since early 2015 so, if you’re not willing to swallow a bit of your pride, your numbers will certainly suffer.

Whether experienced professionals or college grads, job candidates today are focused on one thing: finding the company that gives them the best feeling.

Now, here’s 9 tips on how to cut no-shows in half:

1. Understand the candidate’s salary requirements from the get-go

You may not have mentioned a salary in your job description. So get their salary expectations asap. If the candidate’s request is too far out of range, they won’t want to interview for a job that offers less than they are currently getting or being offered elsewhere. So start by eliminating candidates with significantly higher salary expectations. Don’t expect to convince these… The frustration and waste of time put into these compared with the off chance you convince a candidate once in a while to reduce their expectations is not worth it…

2. The same thing is true of relocation

Are they truly willing to relocate? How committed are they to that decision? Learn as much as you can about what are deal-breakers for candidates to ensure that only candidates who are truly willing to work the job, where it’s located, for the travel expenses offered.

3. Focus on a 3-day interview lead time

Candidates are no longer willing to wait long for interviews. The best candidates are also often busy people. They may already have a job or may be interviewing for a few positions in parallel. As much as wasting your precious time is frustrating, their time may also be limited.

4. Invest time in building rapport with a candidate

You can earn their trust, learn about their career goals and how those goals align with the current opportunity. If applicable try to integrate a point on their career path so you can provide candidates with a bigger picture of where this current position might lead them.

5. Describe the interview process to them

Let your applicant know what to expect. Inform them as to how long the interview is expected to take. Tell them who they will be meeting and interviewing with throughout the process. This gives the candidate a clearer picture of what is going to happen and it offers her a chance to prepare.

6. Send a calendar invite

When the interview is scheduled and agreed upon by both yourself and the candidate, send along a calendar invitation. Applicants are constantly on-the-go. If they have an interview scheduled in their calendars (on their smartphones), they will be reminded of the interview. The calendar invitation is just another reminder. This also will greatly reduce the excuse of “I forgot” or “I thought it was next Thursday”.

7. Try to set the interview time in the afternoon

Most interviews are scheduled during work hours, so their inability to get off work might be a cause of their “not showing.”

8. Stick to the scheduled time

We know that stuff happens. However, once you have your interview date and time scheduled, we recommend trying your best to stick to it. An applicant may get the impression that you are being flakey and/or not taking the interview process seriously. In return, they may also decide not to take it seriously either!

9. Text candidates a couple of hours before the interview

Millennials especially communicate by text message.

In summary, since early 2015 we are clearly in a candidate driven market. Candidates now have far more power during the job search. High demand for specific skills means applicants can be more selective about the roles they apply for.

All of the above are tips to hack at the problem of no-shows. The higher level point is that we are forced as recruiters to tighten up our hiring funnel. We cannot live on with a time-to-offer at an average 60 days. While 63 percent of offers are now being made within six weeks of the first interview (up from 59 percent at the end of 2014), still time to fill remains too high. One of the ways to do this is to no give up on no shows easily.

If there’s one thing to takeaway is that even after a no-show, continuing to pursue the candidate as if it never happened can significantly improve your results. Sidestep your pride and their embarrassment and focus on filling the position. The easier you can make the hiring process and the more you understand the candidate, the greater the chances are that you’ll build a reputation for providing a great hiring experience and reduce the number of cancellations and no-shows.


Originally published on blog.movinhand.com.