August 17, 2018

The job market is so good, candidates aren't even showing up for interviews

Chandra Kill had scheduled face-to-face interviews with 21 candidates to fill some job openings at her employment screening firm. Only 11 showed up.

"About half flaked out," said Kill. "They seem so excited and interested, and then they don't show up or call and you are left wondering what happened. A year or two ago it wasn't like this."

With the US unemployment rate at its lowest in 18 years, and more job openings than there are people looking for work, candidates are bailing on scheduled interviews. In some cases, new hires are not showing up for their first day of work.

"We are in a unique situation where there has definitely been a shift in the employment world as far as supply and demand," said Susie Willingham, director of talent acquisition at CareHere, a health care company.

"We are all fishing from the same pond and people have choices now and have the opportunity to really explore different positions and roles and levels of compensation. And with that choice, you have people changing their minds midstream - it can be very frustrating."

She estimated that approximately 1 in 10 candidates aren't showing up for interviews, and that no-shows are more common among lower level roles.

To get called in for an in-person interview at Kill's company, candidates had to go through an hour-long online assessment and a 15-minute phone interview. So they are pretty far along in the process by the time they get invited into the office for an interview.

While there's nothing wrong with accepting another job offer, bailing on an employer without notice could have lasting effects.

"The world is small," said Johnny Taylor, president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management. And even if you think you don't want to work at the company, hiring managers move around. "You are compromising yourself. You don't know how this will show up to hurt you later."

He added that he's heard of a candidate being flown out for a job interview only to skip that part of the trip.

"I expect that if I send you a plane ticket and block off two hours to meet with you, you will show up." As a result, he said some companies are having candidates agree to reimburse for travel costs if they take the trip but flake on the interview.

In an effort to curb the problem, recruiters have been changing their tactics and moving through the hiring process faster. If they have a qualified candidate that seems like a good fit, they work to get them in for an interview the next day.

To be fair, either party in the hiring process can disappear without a word. Recruiters can also fail to follow up with candidates after an initial reach out or interview, especially during times of high unemployment.

"We all need to be respectful of people's time," said Willingham. "We need to keep both lines of communication open and be honest with each other. It might not be the right opportunity today, but there's no reason to burn a bridge."

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