How to Handle Candidate No Shows (with Templates)

If you need to fill a position, finding the right candidate is often a challenging task. One of the most frustrating parts of looking for new employees is when your candidate doesn’t show up for the interview. How should you handle an interview no-show, and what are the next steps you should take?


This guide covers some tips to help you deal with a candidate who has missed their interview and what to do if someone is late. It also includes some email templates that you can use to contact those no-shows and determine whether they’re worth pursuing.


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What is an interview no-show?

After you’ve read several resumes, contacted a list of potential candidates and scheduled interviews, you’re ready to speak to a few people about filling a new or vacant position. If someone says “yes” to an interview but doesn’t arrive on the scheduled day, you’re officially dealing with an interview no-show. Not only is this extremely frustrating but it’s also wasting valuable time that you could be using to focus on something else.


In many cases, a candidate who missed their interview has changed their mind about the job. It’s likely that they simply made the decision not to contact you to cancel. On the other hand, there could be other reasons for an interview no-show. The person could have a family emergency or was unable to get childcare at the last minute. Regardless of the reason, not showing up for an interview is considered unprofessional behavior.


Before you get angry and give up on the candidate, you can choose to handle the issue in a productive way. Whether you reach out to the no-show is up to you, but it’s still possible that you’re missing out on a potentially excellent employee.


Tips for handling candidate no-shows

If the interview date and time have passed and your candidate didn’t arrive, you may wonder what to do next. Here are some tips to help you handle things when a candidate misses their interview:

  • Stay calm. It’s easy to get upset and angry when someone doesn’t show up for an interview. However, expressing anger isn’t a productive way to entice new employees to work for your company. Try your best to keep your cool and remain level-headed. Take a deep breath and maybe even wait a full day before you reach out to the candidate.
  • Cut them some slack. Your job candidate could have a valid reason for missing their interview. Maybe their car broke down on the side of the road, someone in the family had a medical emergency, or they simply forgot the time of their interview. Whatever the reason, if the candidate passed the other initial screenings and showed genuine interest in the job, it’s perfectly fine to be understanding and cut them a little bit of slack.
  • Remember their potential. If the candidate you’re interested in missed the interview but seemed to have a lot of prior experience or appeared to be the right person for the job, keep those things in mind before you contact them. If you overreact, you could end up losing out on hiring a wonderful employee. Look over the person’s file and think about whether they’re worth pursuing or whether it’s time to move on.
  • Ignore the no-show. You can always ignore the fact that someone didn’t show up for their interview. Contact your next candidate and move forward, accepting the fact that your no-show was not the right person for you.

Why you should follow up with a candidate even if they don’t show up for an interview

Think about the different ways you can handle an interview no-show. Once you decide which method works for you, it’s important to consider the reasons why you should follow up. In many cases, there may have been a simple misunderstanding about the interview date and time. If your candidate spoke to the front desk, talk to your staff and find out what information the candidate was given. It could be a matter of miscommunication or a simple date mix-up. In these cases, you should definitely follow up to reschedule.


Whether it’s a health scare or a breakdown, sometimes emergencies happen that are simply out of our control. Candidates who run into an emergency aren’t thinking about calling you to cancel or reschedule their interview. If the person does eventually contact you to explain, it’s best to reconsider and invite them to come in for an interview at another time.


If you’re angry with the no-show or decide that they won’t be hired, it can actually harm your company’s reputation and brand. This doesn’t mean that you have to be a pushover, but it does mean that you should remain as professional as possible when you follow up. Getting angry or being rude only hurts you in the long run and could cause damage that you can’t see right away.


Email templates to send to a candidate no-show

If the no-show doesn’t reach out to you to reschedule, explain or apologize, you can send them an email to follow up on your end. Here are some templates to use as an email for a no-show interview.


Simple follow-up email

If you were sincerely interested in the candidate, reach out to them via email with a simple follow-up:


Hi Tom,


I noticed you did not attend our scheduled interview on Tuesday. I wanted to follow up with you to confirm that everything is OK. We’re continuing to move forward with our hiring process, and if you’re still interested in the position, please reach out to me so we can reconnect and possibly reschedule.


Thank you.


Rejection email

Perhaps you’ve found another person to hire, or you’ve chosen to move on and would prefer to reject the candidate’s bid for employment:


Hi Tom,


Unfortunately, we noticed that you did not attend our scheduled interview on Tuesday. I hope this email finds you well. We are pressed for time, so we’re moving on with our hiring process. However, if you’d like, we’d be happy to keep your resume on file for future employment opportunities.


Thank you.


Whether you choose to continue to pursue the candidate or reject their bid for employment, keep the email professional and brief.


Candidate no-show FAQs


Why do candidates not show up for interviews?

There can be many reasons a candidate doesn’t show up for an interview. Simple miscommunication or time and date mix-ups are common. Other reasons could include a personal or family emergency, a vehicle breakdown or difficulty finding someone to watch their child while they attend the interview.


What should I do if someone is late for an interview?

If your candidate is late for their interview, try to be as patient as possible. Wait approximately 15-20 minutes after the scheduled time, then call the person to find out if they’re still on their way. If you live in a busy metropolitan area or your office is located downtown, traffic and parking problems are common reasons why someone could be late. If the candidate doesn’t answer your call, leave a brief voicemail inquiring about their status or intentions. If or when they arrive, you can politely inform them that they’ve arrived past the scheduled time. Use their reaction and how they handle the situation as part of your screening to determine if they’re a good candidate for the job.


How do you avoid no-show interviews?

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to be proactive and avoid candidate interview no-shows. First, be as flexible as possible when it comes to scheduling, especially if the candidate is currently employed. The more flexible you are, the better the odds are that the person will show up on time.


Make sure that you have a thorough screening process in place. This informs candidates of your expectations upfront, and it can also help you weed out potential no-shows later. People who are excited and serious about the position will be more than happy to attend an interview for the job.


Consider sending a survey to candidate no-shows via email to find out why they decided not to attend their interview. You can gain insight as to why people don’t show up and what you can do in the future to avoid this situation, which costs your business time and money.

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