Interview No-Shows

September 26, 2018

Was it something I said?

It seems in nearly every veterinary hospital there is an increasing proportion of people not showing up for interviews or even the first day of work without any notification. We’ve even heard stories of newly-hired staff members going home for lunch and not returning because they didn’t want to work there anymore. No warning. No explanation.

Does this only happen to our clinic?

For our Chronicles September Poll, we asked about the frequency of “no-shows.”

  • 79% reported having people not show for the interview
  • 37% said people didn’t show up for the first day of work
  • 54% reported people leaving during the first week of work without notice
  • 87% now keep track of no-shows in case the person re-applies for a position in the future
  • One person reported having 25-30% of scheduled interviews no show

If you feel like it’s only happening to you, think again. It’s not only common in the veterinary industry, it’s occurring across the United States in a variety of positions.

Is it just one position or across the board?

While many people point to CVTs being the primary culprit, unless it’s measured, you won’t really know. In addition, the percentages should be noted and not raw numbers. It may feel they don’t show as often if you’re interviewing for more CVT positions.

In one case, a clinic hired a practice manager who didn’t show up on the agreed upon start date. However, it worked out as the drug test came back positive.

On the flip side, one clinic mentioned that a gentleman, interviewing for an assistant position, arrived wearing a suit as he aspired to become a veterinarian in the future. He was hired!

There is evidence that no-shows are more common among lower level roles. #1 This makes sense as there are more of these positions in the work force with more people generally capable of filling them.

Why don’t they show?

There is probably no one underlying reason but a combination of many factors that contribute to the overall issue.

Most, if not all, people can agree that just not showing up is unprofessional and rude. Who is teaching manners these days? While basic professionalism is being taught in veterinary and technician programs, it may not be enough. While there is a different attitude with millennials, not everyone no-showing is in this age group.

Other reasons may include being anxious, fearful, intimidated, not properly prepared or working another job. Working candidates may struggle to fit in time to go to job interviews. In many cases, they may sneak out of work or take a long lunch because they do not want to upset their employers. If something comes up at the last minute and they can’t leave their current job, they may simply have to skip the interview. #2

Of course, people may just be lazy or decide to bail because they don’t feel like going. In these cases, the person has actually done you a huge service by weeding themselves out of contention.

Finally, due to high turnover and growing team numbers, there are many positions for CVTs and other staff members (high demand). They can afford to be picky. Many are simultaneously interviewing at multiple employers. #3 If they get hired somewhere else, they cancel your interview, with or without letting you know.

In fact, according to the BLS, the US unemployment rate is at its lowest in 18 years. #4 It is truly a job-seekers market.

What can I do?

Here are just a few ideas. Reach beyond what has been done and be creative in the process. Remember, the rules from a decade ago don’t apply any more. The hiring climate has shifted and so must you.

While talking to someone who just “stood you up” may not seem like a desirable thing to do, it may help figure out why people don’t show up for interviews or jobs. It may help for future hires, especially if they were treated better at another facility.

Based on some reasons mentioned above, you may be missing out on good people because they had a difficult time following through (being anxious, intimidated or not being able to leave current job for interview).

The best candidates are busy and probably have multiple interviews set up. They are focused on their schedule, not yours. Send reminders (more than once) by a method they prefer (such as text or email). Be flexible with scheduling and offer other approaches such as on-line interviews. Be creative and work with the individual to discover the best method to ensure compliance.

Gauge their true interest in your hospital. Delve into their priorities and goals. If it’s a good fit with what you are looking for, then speed up the hiring process. Don’t wait! The candidate isn’t going to wait for you.

Build a good rapport with the applicant. Make sure your clinic and the position come across in a positive light. Identify goals that are in alignment with each other and discuss career paths. Providing a bigger picture of the opportunities and enticing buy-in to the position will assist with the process.

Send a thank you card when the person does show up for the interview. If you are serious about the candidate, and potentially looking at hiring that person, then let him/her know. Times are changing and now it’s the hiring manager doing the thanking!

Finally, this may seem obvious, be FRIENDLY. Find little ways to reduce anxiety and make sure candidates feel welcomed, either on the phone or in person. If your stress shows, it’s going to decrease the likelihood of the person wanting to work in the hospital.

Part of this is identifying your hospital’s culture – is it really as great as you think? Having an appealing facility with happy team members is going to go a long way in attracting good candidates. Then you can be as picky as the people who are interviewing for your positions!

Happy hunting.


#1 The job market is so good, candidates aren’t even showing up for interviews. By Kathryn Vasel. August 17, 2018.
#2 Why People Don’t Show Up For Interviews. March 18, 2016.
#3 10 Tips to Managing Interview Cancellations and No Shows.
#4 Bureau of Labor Statistics.