Talent Acquisition

10 Tips to Managing Interview Cancellations and No-shows

As the war for talent has once again heated up, candidates are no longer willing to wait long for interviews. Many are simultaneously interviewing at multiple employers. If they get hired somewhere else, they cancel your interview.

Some simply do not show up and do not call. Frustrating, right?

Not to mention costly, as some hiring managers travel to conduct selection interviews. But, before you pull your hair out, take a moment to consider the candidate’s point of view.

The best candidates are busy people. If they are currently employed, their time for interviewing is limited. They may have multiple companies vying for their attention. You are just one of many. On the other hand, young candidates may be fearful and intimidated. They are focused on their own schedules and assume that you have plenty of people to consider. Why would you care if they don’t show up? You’ll just move on to the next person on your list, right?

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

It’s important to note that the best way to prevent cancellations and no-shows is to truly invest time in building rapport with a candidate, selling the job opportunity to the candidate, and gaining a firm buy-in from them regarding their interest in working at the company. By building rapport with a candidate, you can earn their trust, learn about their career goals and how those goals align with the current opportunity. It’s equally as important to be able to articulate what the career path is in the company, so you can provide candidates with a bigger picture of where this current position might lead them.

Another thing that makes a difference is truly understanding the candidate’s salary requirements and how that relates to the position being offered. If the candidate’s request is too far out of range, do they still want to interview for a job that offers less money? If so, it needs to be vetted with the candidate, otherwise you risk having them decide at the last minute that the pay cut won’t work.

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 deal-breakers for candidates to ensure that only candidates who are truly willing to work the job, where it’s located, for the salary offered, are the ones who interview.

In addition to that, here are ten practical tips to help reduce candidate cancellations and no-shows:

  1. Reduce interview lag time – Work with hiring managers to schedule interviews as soon as possible. Try not to go beyond two weeks. Don’t let someone else be faster than you.
  2. Coach hiring managers on the importance of not rescheduling interviews – Rescheduling gives candidates the impression that their time is not valued. They will interview where they are clearly wanted.
  3. Set expectations up front with candidates – Find out if they are interviewing elsewhere. Open a dialogue to gauge their true interest level in your company and what factors they weigh as priorities when considering and accepting offers. Ask them to notify you if they need to cancel or withdraw from consideration and provide contact information to do so.
  4. Provide flexible, upcoming interviewing schedules – The best candidates receive many interview offers and often have tight schedules to work around. How can you make the process easier? Can you interview on Zoome? Phone? Offer after-hours or weekends? Offer flexible, pre-determined interview options to get on their calendar right away.
  5. Keep communicating with candidates – Schedule an email or text message campaign so that candidates hear from your company with interesting information every few days before the interview. Also, provide candidates with answers to questions, interview prep, what to expect at the interview, etc. And reinforce why your culture is a great place to spend their careers.
  6. Confirm interviews more than once – Email and phone candidates to confirm their intention to attend the interview. But don’t just confirm. Welcome them as you would a guest. Let them know how much you appreciate their time and interest.
  7. Text candidates – Millennials especially communicate by text message. This is an effective way to confirm and also to solicit feedback if they do not show.
  8. Build a stronger bench – If you usually present three candidates and find that you are experiencing a high rate of cancellations or no-shows, consider presenting five candidates to make up for it.
  9. Find out why candidates are dropping out – It may be hard to do, but if you can survey those who canceled or failed to show, you’ll gain valuable insight into what factors are playing into this phenomenon. Was a recruiter rude? Did the timing just not work? Were they treated better somewhere else? Did they feel unprepared? Ask questions and report on them on a regular basis.
  10. See the silver lining – Ultimately, candidates who fail to show or call may not be the most considerate or dependable employees. Be thankful that their behavior showed up early and prevented you from a potential bad hire.

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.

Author: Katie Calhoun is Strategic Director at, where she provides strategic direction to both her clients and teams with a strong focus on the client’s individual and business goal requirements.

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