So the phone screen went well, and you really like the candidate. Now it’s time for the in-person interview. You find a mutually agreeable time, everything looks good...and then — the candidate cancels on you!

Suddenly you’re back at square one.

It’s frustrating, but hey, at least the candidate actually emailed you to cancel. What about those other times when they just don’t show up? For small to midsize businesses, the frustration is even greater since owners and managers wear many hats. They may even be doing all of the recruiting themselves.

Record low unemployment  means that candidates have options. And more options means more interview no-shows and cancellations for recruiters. But does it really have to be that way? Here’s the good news: There are steps you can implement today to cut down on this problem.  What are they? Let’s take a look at how to avoid no-shows in recruitment. 

1. Just how interested is the candidate?

Yes, you’re busy and you need to hire someone quickly. However, it’s crucially important that you take your time to find the right person for the job. So the first step is to find out whether a candidate is genuinely interested in the position.

How do you do this? Don’t delay — have a detailed discussion during the phone screen interview. Use this time to make a connection and to learn more about the candidate. Help them understand the job by thoroughly explaining the role and its responsibilities. In return, try to dig into the candidate’s career aspirations, the reasons why they are looking to change jobs, and (of course) their salary expectations.

Above all, listen. Do their answers align with the role and the company culture? You need someone who is going to be a great fit for both.

2. Keep in touch

Excellent communication and engagement are key when faced with the question of how to avoid no-shows in recruitment. Be upfront and ask the candidate during that initial phone screen to let you know if they suddenly need to cancel or withdraw. The sooner you know, the faster you can continue your search.

But you don’t want them to cancel, of course. So follow up your phone screener with an email to remove as much uncertainty about the job as possible: include all the stuff you would want to know if you were the one searching for a job — essential company info, key facts about the role and the next stage of the interview process. And make sure you confirm interviews more than once. Don’t just rely on that initial email. Follow up closer to the time.

What else? Be friendly. Be genuine. Be real. Let them know how much your company appreciates their interest. Let them know who they’re going to be talking to when they come in for an interview. Make that human connection early: This helps build a foundation of trust between you and the candidate, reducing the risk of no-shows for interviews. 

3. Value the candidate’s time

He who snoozes loses, so try to schedule in-person interviews quickly. After all, the longer you wait, the more this increases the chances that another company will beat you to the punch.

The people you are talking to lead full lives and often have tight schedules. Flexibility is key here. Consider getting on their calendar by offering to interview them over video, or outside the office setting in a coffee shop, or even after work hours. How badly do you want to hire this candidate? Sometimes it’s worth going the extra mile.

Sure it’s inconvenient, but the investment could pay off in the end. Flexibility is another way to show a potential candidate that you care. I’ve done interviews at Starbucks before: To avoid no-shows in recruitment, it helps to give the candidate every reason to say yes by making the experience as painless as possible!

And avoid rescheduling interviews unless it’s absolutely necessary. From a candidate’s perspective it’s disruptive and disorganized.

4. Be honest . . . with yourself

Don’t take interview cancellations personally. Instead, view them as an opportunity to learn. Seek feedback from those who dropped out or didn’t show to target problem areas. See what you can do to improve the hiring process at your company. This is a chance to reflect and address the ways you could fully meet the candidate's needs next time.

You can get this information from other sources, too. If there's a trend or increase in drop-offs then you should take a critical look at how your company is perceived externally. Are there negative reviews online written about people's experiences? Is the interview process a two day marathon? Is your salary range aligned to the industry average?

In today’s world you can’t ignore what people are saying online. Instead learn from it, or take control of the conversation by creating your own Company Page where you can share information about life at your company, while responding to feedback and engaging more deeply with job seekers.

5. Don’t give up!

You know the adage, “If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again?” It applies to the recruiting process, too.

Never give up or lose hope — and don’t get so antsy that you hire someone just to fill the position. By stopping the recruiting process too soon you could be missing out on the opportunity to find a truly great match for your company.

Chances are that if you like a candidate, other employers will too. So if you can, create a buffer against no-shows for interviews by picking out a few qualified candidates to bring in for an interview. If you typically narrow down your candidate pool down to three candidates, try increasing that number to five: better safe than sorry.

By implementing the strategies and tactics above, you’ll stand a much better chance of cutting down on interview no-shows and finding the right candidate for a job at your company. The talent is out there — now go get it!