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How Companies Are Incentivizing In-Person Interviews

Recruiters and employers seeking hourly workers are experiencing a sharp increase in interview no-shows, or “ghosting” by candidates who have passed a phone screening and have been scheduled for an in-person interview.

While it seems to be more prevalent in restaurant, retail, and hospitality, it’s happening across the board specifically for hourly job candidates. Recruiters can attract talent, receive applications, conduct a phone screen, and schedule an interview – only to have the candidate blow off the interview and not respond to follow up messages.

Are recruiters doing something wrong? While ghosting after scheduling an interview is poor job seeking etiquette, it’s also not personal. In a saturated talent market, we often hear stories from job applicants who have been ghosted by recruiters or companies. In our current talent market, where we are struggling to find candidates to fill high-volume hourly roles, the script has been flipped.

Why Are Candidates Ghosting Employers?

According to a February 2021 survey from Indeed, ghosting seems to have grown in popularity amongst job seekers over the past year: 28% have ghosted an employer, up from only 18% in 2019. Meanwhile, 76% of employers have been ghosted in the same time frame, and 57% believe it’s even more common than before. Some employers say candidates are cutting off communications early in the hiring process — after an initial phone screen or interview, for instance. But others take it further, with one-quarter of employers reporting new hires “no-showing” on their first day of work.

The same survey reports that how and when job seekers ghost seems to vary. Nearly half (48%) say they ceased communications with the prospective employer, while another 46% didn’t show up for a scheduled interview. A small but noteworthy 7% failed to appear for their first scheduled day. And why are they ghosting? The exact reasons job seekers give for their disappearances vary, from receiving another offer (20%) to dissatisfaction with the offered salary (13%) to simply deciding it wasn’t the right job for them (15%).

It gets worse when we just look at hourly, entry-level positions. 83% of employers reported an increase in entry level new hires not showing up (or calling to explain why) on their first day of work in 2020. While COVID-19 could be the reason, especially for frontline workers, this trend has continued through 2021 for a variety of reasons. Approximately 40% of entry level new hires admitted to ghosting their new job after receiving another offer with a higher hourly wage and better benefits during the wait time between job offer and start date. Which means our time to hire isn’t as fast as a competitor’s.

Related: Four Recruiting Bottlenecks to Avoid in Restaurant and Retail

What Some Companies Are Doing to Reduce Candidate Ghosting

When Tampa Bay based restaurant Sus Hi Eatstation’s nine locations were understaffed by up to 30%, CEO Robert Ly decided to address the interview no-shows by offering cryptocurrency to candidates just for showing up. They’re offering 25 Dogecoin just for showing up for your interview; that’s in addition to their $100 hiring bonus, with an additional $25 for being vaccinated for COVID-19. Forty hospitality businesses in Charleston, SC, held a hiring fair on April 7. Attendees who registered were entered into a live raffle with gas, hotel, and restaurant gift cards as prizes. The first 100 people hired at the fair received a $500 bonus.

Across the restaurant industry, signing and retention bonuses are becoming more common. According to CT Post, cooks at some Connecticut Applebee’s locations were offered a $50 bonus after the first week and $150 after 90 days. In New York City, the Mermaid Inn is offering $500 bonuses to servers hired at its four locations, paid out after three months of “satisfactory employment.” At Portland, Oregon chain McMenamin’s, which is hiring for a variety of positions, including servers and bartenders, just the newly hired line cooks and kitchen managers are eligible for a $1,000 bonus after 90 days of employment.

To attract workers this summer, Omni Hotels & Resorts is offering a range of incentives, including free hotel rooms for summer employees at some properties, as well as guaranteed entrance into the company’s management training program for staff members who stay through Labor Day. New employees will also receive three free nights at the Omni hotel of their choice. All of Omni’s summer hires get a $250 signing bonus plus a $500 retention bonus at the end of the season.

Will offering cash or gift cards to candidates for showing up for interviews work? The short answer is maybe. It depends on the starting hourly rate, benefits, speed of interview scheduling, and even your geographic location. A Florida-based McDonald’s franchise owner offered $50 cash to anyone who showed up for an interview.

Twitter Screenshot.

Blake Casper owns this McDonald’s and about 60 others in the Tampa area. “If we can’t keep our drive-thrus moving, then I’ll pay $50 for an interview,” Casper reportedly told Business Insider. Casper also said that the sign didn’t attract as many applicants as predicted, and that his franchises have had more success with referral programs, text message applications, and signing bonuses.

Like it or not, employers will have to stay sharp and get creative to make hires right now. While no one knows the best method for finding candidates or getting in-person interviewees in the door right now, we do know what candidates want – flexible hours, high pay, good benefits, and high safety standards. Offer the right things, showcase your work perks in your recruitment marketing, and consider trying one of the above methods other companies are using to get less “ghosts” and more hires.