What Do You Do When Your Job Candidate Stands You Up?

Yep, it happened again – I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am – I can’t stop myself!

As long as I’m in HR/recruiting I will never understand how a candidate can accept an interview and then not show up – and worst off, not even call to tell you that they are not going to show up.

Is there a worse feeling as an HR Pro?

Embarrassment, to anger, to sadness

You have your hiring team assembled, copies of resumes and interview decks, hot coffee, cold water, and then you wait. At first you start to think something must have happened – car accident, bad directions, alien invasion! – because there is no way the person wouldn’t have risked life and limb to make this interview. You fear for their safety.

Then slowly but surely it starts to hit you that you got stood up – No Call, No Show. The next feeling is a little embarrassment. You have peers and clients you support taking time out to come to an interview you set up, your reputation is on the line – how dare they!

Next comes the anger. I’m going to black list this person from ever getting a job at my company! Hell, we should put a list together of people who do this and share it professionally. In fact, I’m going to start a website for HR Pros to publicly reprimand individuals who No Call, No Show. It will be called www.NoCallNoShowsSuck.com!

I think the final emotion I feel when someone does a No Call, No Show is sadness. In what kind of a world do we live in when someone can’t extend the basic courtesy of calling beforehand and cancelling the interview?

It’s so simple, so understanding, just basic common courtesy – “I know I said I wanted to come, but things have changed and I need to cancel, I know longer want to interview with your company.” Short, sweet, simple, easy. Yet, every single person in HR has had at least one No Call, No Show.

So, how do you make sure this will never happen again to you?

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Making sure it doesn’t happen again

The only way that you can make sure this won’t happen to you (and even then it might not be 100 percent) is to give each candidate multiple outs. The talking points go something like this:

Mr. Candidate, I know you are probably getting calls daily from organizations; your background and experience is very impressive. We would like to bring you in for a personal face to face interview with our team. We want to make this work out for you, etc., etc. etc….(you know the drill – but here’s the important part) I know you probably have multiple irons in the fire. If at any time you decide you no longer want to pursue our position, can I ask one small favor from you? (yes, make it a question, and wait for an answer) I’m going to give you my personal cell phone number; could you please call me and tell me you won’t make it? I have many people taking time out of their schedule to meet with you, and if you decide not to come, I owe it to them to give them this time back for their schedules.”

It’s one paragraph and yes, you have to do it for every single interview. But you won’t. You know why? Because you assume that every person will be courteous, that every person you set up for an interview has no better potentials than yours, that every single person has the emotional ability to put you through rejection.

But they don’t! The above paragraph is letting the candidate know that it’s all right for them to reject you, that you get it and you are fine with it. It’s not 100 percent, but it works about 99.9 percent of the time.

Let candidates know its all right for them to reject you – and you’ll have less rejection!

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


3 Comments on “What Do You Do When Your Job Candidate Stands You Up?

  1. Please don’t stone me to death, but I confess I have once done a no-call no-show for an interview.  I was only mildly interested in the position and had been interviewing for another position I was much more excited about. I was offered and accepted the other position before this interview happened. The day it was scheduled was the day I gave my two weeks notice at my current job. The nervousness of quitting and excitement of the new job caused the interview to completely slip my mind. It wasn’t until my cell phone dinged to remind me I should be interviewing that I realized my mistake. I immediately called (and got no answer, of course, the HR manager was likely in a conference room waiting for me) and then sent an email of apology.

    To HR folks everywhere, please forgive me and other sinners like me! We are so thankful you took the time to schedule our interview and are embarrassed about the egg on our faces for standing you up. 

  2. Hmmm. I suspect that someone rude enough to be a no-show isn’t going to be moved to behave any differently by that speech — and for the 99% of people who don’t need to hear it, it may seem like an odd thing to say. (I know I’d react like, “Do you really think I need to be told that?”)

  3. this still better. what is worse is when the candidate accepts the offer and then does not join the company. Thus wasting everyone’s valuable time and efforts

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