Businesses say as many as 90% of candidates don’t turn up to job interviews and some quit soon after being hired. ‘You’re basically hiring anyone that would show up.’

Sad waiter barista
Many new hires don’t turn up for their first shift, according to business owners. Getty Images
  • Businesses across the US say job applicants keep failing to show for interviews.
  • Some say as many as 90% of candidates don’t turn up for their scheduled interview.
  • In some cases, candidates accept a job but they either don’t show up for their shift or they quit.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Paul Horton closed his taco restaurant down in mid-September after being left with just two kitchen staff members.

Horton told Insider he’d spent thousands of dollars advertising jobs at Taco Crush – but that only around 10% of applicants replied after he tried to arrange an interview.

Of those who he scheduled interviews with, only between 5% and 10% turned up, he said.

“You can’t be choosy anymore,” Horton said. “You’re basically hiring anyone that would show up.”

Taco Crush isn’t alone. Other businesses across the US said job applicants keep failing to show up for interviews amid a scramble for staff to plug their labor shortages.

Some companies said the shortage is down to staff not wanting to work – whereas staff say they want better pay and working conditions if they’re going to stick around.

Some of the businesses Insider spoke to said as many as 90% of candidates didn’t show up for interviews, and that some new hires didn’t turn up to their first shift, or that they quit after just a few weeks.

Most of the employers said they didn’t know the reason behind the no-shows or quick exits.

Hiking pay doesn’t work

Yolanda Garcia and Jesse Hoover, who own Cafe Elk Grove in Elk Grove, California, told Insider that they “tend to get a ton of applicants” for job vacancies, but nine out of 10 people don’t show up for their interviews.

“We’ve even had people accept the position, just not show up the next day, no call, no show, no nothing,” Hoover said. “So it’s just basically wasting our time.”

Garcia said the cafe has raised some starting wages from $US14 ($AU19) an hour to $US22 ($AU30) “and they’re still not showing up.”

“That still doesn’t seem to have helped much, in terms of getting people to actually show up for the interviews and then getting people to accept the position,” Hoover added.

It’s a similar situation at a chocolate restaurant in Denver, which has just five workers, down from 16 before the pandemic.

Owner Phil Simonson told Insider he had hiked wages from $US11.75 ($AU16) to up to $US15 ($AU21) an hour with tips in some cases and introduced health benefits, but half of the people who arrange interviews don’t turn up.

Jonathan Bergstein, owner of Maid to Sparkle, a residential cleaning service in Richmond, Virginia, said he’d started offering hiring bonuses of between $US200 ($AU274) and $US300 ($AU410) in the hope that it would make more people show up to interviews.

Bergstein said some people used excuses like family emergencies for not attending the interview. He thought, however, that some of them may have scheduled the interviews just so that they could prove they were applying to jobs to claim unemployment benefits.

Workers quit soon after being hired

Mirna McCormack is struggling to staff her business, Korner Cafe, in Lewisville, Texas. She said that a lot of candidates didn’t show up to interviews, or would quit after around two weeks.

Gary Beggs, co-owner of Abba Staffing and Consulting in Texas, echoed the struggle of retaining employees.

“It takes, in our case, about 10 applicants to get one who’s really interested,” he told Insider. Of these, between 60% and 70% of candidates didn’t show up for interviews, he said.

“It’s shocking how many of them no-show on the first day,” Beggs said, adding that a lot of people were applying passively for jobs that they may not have been interested in.

“The electronic applications make it very easy to apply for jobs,” he said. “People apply for jobs they don’t really care about or aren’t qualified for.”