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6 Tips For Dealing with Last-minute Candidate Dropouts
Hiring and Recruitment

6 Tips For Dealing with Last-minute Candidate Dropouts

Guest Blog
July 20, 2023

When it comes to recruiting new hires, you'll always have a number of questions that remain unanswered until the very last minute. For example, if a candidate calls in sick for a scheduled interview or fails to show up at all, you face a dilemma: should you go ahead and fill the position or wait?

To make matters worse, if one candidate cancels on you before the interview starts, another may well do so afterward – compounding your problems further still.

It doesn't matter whether these dropouts occur during the interview process or even after the individual has been hired. The cost for your organization is always high because you have lost time, money, and effort in pursuing a candidate who has no intention of joining your team.

In many respects, this issue reflects poorly on all recruitment professionals involved in the hiring process in which you can use a training video – not just those at the interviewing stage. It also presents an immediate challenge: how can you prevent such last-minute dropouts?

Here are some tips that may help you deal with the situation effectively:

1. Explain the consequence of dropping out last-minute

During the recruitment process, recruiters and hiring managers must always leave some room for movement. If they don't, they'll seriously damage their chances of finding suitable candidates – and risk losing out on those who may well turn out to be very strong performers.

However, that doesn't mean you should allow people to slide; you must maintain control throughout all stages of the process by setting clear requirements and expectations from the outset. By doing so, you not only reduce the chance of any misunderstandings but also protect yourself against explaining why such incidents happened in the first place.

For example:

  • Tell them how important it is that they meet their appointments – and that there will be no exceptions.
  • Provide candidates with an idea of what could happen if they can't demonstrate the required levels of commitment.

2. Give candidates every chance to confirm their attendance

Clarity is often crucial in any hiring process, but it's particularly important when it comes to communication around interview appointments. If candidates fail to show up at the last minute, there's always a temptation for others within your organization – and even your team – to think that something must be wrong with them.

After all, if somebody turns down an opportunity to come and work for you, why should you spend time thinking about them any further? What you must remember, however, is that this individual may have a valid reason for not attending – and whatever it is, there's a good chance it will be more serious than their mere forgetfulness.

Make sure to:

  • Always provide candidates with clear information on what they need to do – and how they need to do it – if they want to confirm their attendance.
  • Give them as much advance notice as possible, so they have sufficient time to make alternative arrangements.
  • Allow them some leeway in terms of timings if the appointment falls during peak hours or at a difficult location.

3. Give a clear explanation in your job descriptions

You need to create a clear job description for every role you advertise. However, what you say isn't always as important as what you don't mention – particularly during the early stages of the hiring process when very few people apply for specific vacancies.

If there are restrictions on working hours or geographical location, state this upfront so that candidates fully understand whether they can meet your requirements before they apply. Make sure to explain how you use interview appointments and whatever level of commitment applicants have as part of deciding factors. This can help minimize situations where candidates suddenly drop the interview within the last minute.

4. Maintain active communication with candidates

This means more than just updating them on the progress of their applications or such an employee monitoring software. You should also consider informing them about other available opportunities that may be suitable to their skills and experience, especially right at the beginning of the process when very few people have applied for your roles.

It's not just recruitment agencies who have an opportunity to do this either; employers can always share information with applicants via email or social media platforms whenever possible. Use every piece of communication as an opportunity to explain where they are in the hiring process, so you don't lose out on potentially strong candidates needlessly.

5. Create an exciting candidate experience

Candidate experience is becoming increasingly important in the modern recruitment process. A lot of companies focus too much on what they can get out of the hiring process rather than what they can offer their applicants, so it's vital that you change this mindset if you want to see more people applying for your open roles.

Don't be afraid to provide them with a unique candidate experience while they fill out your application forms and while they wait for updates from your organization. If your brand personality aligns with theirs, there should be plenty of opportunities to make a lasting impression – and a great many reasons why they'll want to work for you.

6. Follow up with every candidate

Following up is one of the essential parts of the recruitment process, even after all the successful applicants have been announced.

At this stage, you need to communicate with everyone who applied to let them know whether or not they were successful in getting an interview appointment. Make sure you do so politely and respectfully, no matter their response to your initial communication.

After all, announcing lots of vacancies doesn't mean you should skimp on following up afterward because it sends a clear message to applicants that you're not particularly interested in what they have to say. If you want the best people applying for your open roles, don't be afraid to send additional messages after the first one – but always keep it brief and don't expect a response from everyone you send them to.


The recruitment process is an integral part of the overall impression of your applicants. Even if they don't manage to get through your hiring process, there's always a chance that they'll be interested in working for you again someday, and it all comes down to how well you take care of them throughout the hiring process.

The best recruiters know exactly what their candidates want and tailor their messages accordingly. They keep track of people referred by other candidates and find out whether or not they're still interested in becoming a part of their team before making any moves so as not to lose such strong connections.

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