Organisations are struggling to hire the right people. For the first time on record, there are more job vacancies than there are unemployed people in the UK. What we are seeing is a candidate-driven market; a war for talent that has deeply impacted the recruitment process. Talent acquisition teams are investing more in recruitment marketing and thinking more about how to engage applicants throughout the entire hiring process.

In this current landscape, with multiple companies vying for applicant attention – and with many jobseekers already in full-time employment, interview no-shows are becoming more common place.

That’s not to suggest that no-shows have not always been a problem – research from 2018 found that anywhere from 20-50% of candidates failed to turn up for interviews. But post-pandemic, the situation appears to be getting worse – with this article from Forbes noting that interview no-shows had increased 18% in the last year.

Applicants failing to turn up for interviews is a problem – it’s frustrating, but more importantly, it’s a waste of time, effort, and resources. It increases the total cost-per-hire, impacting the amount organisations can invest on talent acquisition.

This lack of communication and care from applicants – sometimes called candidate ghosting – is a huge issue for employers, but also one that highlights problems within their hiring process. To address no-shows, employers will need to consider how they can work to improve candidate experience.

Why do no-shows happen?

There are numerous reasons why some applicants may not show up for an interview. It might be that they have been offered another role somewhere else, or they don’t feel they are a good fit with your organisation. Sometimes it could be cold feet, or they have simply got confused about the date and time of the interview.

Whatever the reason, applicants should hold some responsibility for failing to communicate why they will not be turning up. But employers and hiring managers might also want to take some responsibility for no-shows.

Our research into candidate behaviour has previously highlighted that the length and complexity of application process are great turn-offs for applicants. Keeping candidates engaged is crucial to ensure that they will turn up for interviews, and complicated application processes are having the opposite effect.

It is also extremely common for many applicants to never hear back from employers regarding their job applications. Communication must be a two-way street. Recruiters cannot complain about being ghosted by candidates when there are many more applicants who may have not have heard a single thing about their application.

According to Glassdoor, on average, it takes companies 10-14 days to respond to candidate applications. Companies would never wait that long to respond to a customer lead. Such slow response time should not be acceptable for applicants who want to join your business.

Candidates have been conditioned by the behaviours of businesses to see a lack of communication as being normal. In a situation where candidates may be applying for large amounts of jobs and maybe even struggling to keep track of all the roles they have applied for, it’s up to organisations to ensure open channels of communication.

Communication is key to providing high levels of candidate experience. Its also a way for organisations to stand out amongst their competitors in the competition for the best talent. It’s up to employers to break the cycle. But it’s not the only way to ensure candidates show up for interviews. Using an applicant tracking system, there are numerous ways your business can improve interview attendance.

How to prevent interview no-shows

Schedule Interviews Quickly

According to Indeed, job seekers are more likely to show up for interviews if they receive a response from an employer within 48 hours of applying. Being able to move applicants swiftly through the recruitment process means keeping them engaged and not allowing their enthusiasm for the role to diminish.

Using an applicant tracking system, hiring managers are much more able to quickly schedule interviews. The Hireserve ATS has a built-in interview scheduling tool that reduces the burden on recruitment teams, making the process of agreeing an interview much more efficient.

The interview scheduling tool allows interviewers to upload their availability or set blocks of time for interviews. Candidates can then select the slot that works best for them through the candidate portal. Applicants can then also reschedule or cancel their slots themselves if they can no longer make the selected time.

This level of self-service provides improved candidate experience whilst also reducing the amount of time talent acquisition teams need to spend on admin.

Communicate Clearly and Regularly

We have already discussed how a lack of communication is a huge contributing factor to interview no-shows. With applicant tracking software, much of that communication can be automated.

Firstly, the system can be configured to send automated replies to all jobseekers upon receipt of their applications. Automated replies can also be triggered by candidates scheduling their interview with the inter view scheduling tool. You can also use the ATS to send reminders to applicants.

This consistent, automatic stream of communication is key to keep candidates engaged. This level of communication encourages candidates to reciprocate. Nothing is worse for jobseekers than feeling as though their applications have disappeared into a black hole. Automated text or email communication keeps them connected to the hiring process without causing additional strain for recruiters.

Manage Your Employer Brand

In the current climate, candidates will have a lot of options for interviews. Remaining competitive requires building an employer branding strategy and positioning your company an attractive workplace.

This means prioritising employee experience at every stage of the employee lifecycle, from onboarding through to the end of their time with the organisation. An applicant tracking system can transform employee onboarding processes, providing all the relevant documentation and information in one place for new candidates to engage with at their own speed. A strong onboarding process can improve retention of new hires by as much as 82%, demonstrating how crucial it is for employee experience.

Building your employer brand will also help you to develop your ideal candidate persona, allowing you to identify your target candidates and the right channels and job boards to reach them. Using at ATS, you can instantly share your job openings to the right job websites for your ideal candidates.

Focusing on your ideal candidates can help to reduce the amount of scheduled interviews, ensuring that those who are offered an interview are more engaged with your business and less likely to cancel.

Track Recruitment Metrics and get Feedback

You won’t know why an applicant has failed to turn up for an interview unless you ask them.

Collecting this feedback from no-shows could provide valuable insights on how to improve your hiring process. Sending put a survey to all applicants after the interview process will help to identify any recurring problems or issues within your recruitment practices. This feedback will help you to understand if applicants had a negative experience or felt they didn’t fit with the culture of your company.

You can automate this process of sending surveys and gathering feedback, collecting this data using the data and reporting tool in Hireserve ATS.

With this, you can also build data on other key recruitment metrics and KPIs so you can further optimise your recruitment process and hopefully, avoid any further interview no-shows.

Are you ready to upgrade your recruitment? Book a demo to see what Hireserve ATS can do for your organisation.

About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.