job candidate is triggering an etiquette land mine with appointment self-scheduling

A reader writes:

I recruit for a number of positions for my organization, and I’ve started using a free online calendaring tool to let candidates see open blocks on my calendar and book times that work for them. It’s a bit less personal, but saves a ton of time on email back-and-forth since all I do is send them the link with a short note expressing my interest in a phone interview.

I have a candidate with a strong resume and personalized cover letter who has used this booking tool to reschedule our interview five times—twice within a few hours of our scheduled appointment—without so much as a quick email of explanation. I think this is obnoxious and unprofessional… and just weird! If we were emailing back forth, I can’t imagine anyone doing this; does she think that because it’s an online booking system, there’s not a person on the other end?

I’m no longer interested in speaking with her, but want to confirm I’m not off-base in canceling our interview on account of this behavior? And if not, should I simply say I’m no longer available to speak with her, or should I gently point out that her behavior is really unprofessional? I simply can’t imagine what makes her think this is OK, so part of me wonders if she actually doesn’t get it!

Oooooh, yeah, that would bug me too. You’ve set that time aside and not booked it for other things, and she’s being cavalier about your time. For all she knows, you weren’t able to schedule another important meeting that day because you were honoring your appointment with her, or you turned down a dinner invitation with a friend because you had a 6 p.m. call scheduled with her.

The fact that it’s technologically easy for her to reschedule doesn’t negate the fact that it has as much of an impact on your schedule as if it were all done the old-fashioned way.

I think you’re right that if she had to actually contact you each time, there’s no way she’d try to reschedule five times, and that the technology — and the fact that it feels more impersonal — is lulling her into not realizing that this isn’t that much different.

I’m torn on whether I’d cancel the interview altogether though. I’d be more likely to if the role required polish and sophistication in dealing with people, or technological savviness. If it didn’t require either of those things, I’d probably just send her a note that said, “I noticed you’ve rescheduled our interview five times. Can you confirm that you’ll be able to keep the current time you’ve scheduled?” (I’d be tempted to add on “it’s causing havoc with my schedule,” but I actually think it’s better to leave that off and see what kind of response you get from a less heavy-handed nudge.)

If you do decide to cancel, I think it’s a kindness to tell her why. In that case, I’d say something like, “I noticed you’ve rescheduled our interview five times. It’s upended my scheduling a few times, and I think at this point we should cancel the call, but thank you for your interest and best of luck in your search.”

(As a random side note, I know some people hate “best of luck in your search,” but I find it a useful phrase that allows you a reasonably soft ending to an email like this.)

{ 269 comments… read them below }

  1. Snarkus Aurelius*

    My guess is that she has no idea that you know she’s done this. As in, she thinks her schedule changes aren’t leaving a paper trail.

    Whatever you do, you should let her know that you’ve noticed and you’re concerned.

    The NYT had an article on how email fueled the ability of college students to email without thinking through things. For example, a student emailed his math professor to ask what kind of notebook he should buy for class. In the olden days, it took much more effort to contact professors, namely doing it in person at specified times, that students either figured it out themselves or found the question wasn’t important enough you warrant trekking across campus to ask.

    1. Chocolate lover*

      Can you by any chance share a link to that article? I’d be interested in reading it. I did a Google search, but I don’t seem to be picking it up. Thanks!

        1. Sarah*

          Urgh, I really dislike this kind of millenial hand-wringing. College students from 30 years ago were, I’m sure, just as unprofessional and inconsiderate as they are today. They’ve had little to no exposure to adult norms and expectations and their brains aren’t fully developed yet- and believe me, that hasn’t changed at all with the advent of email. It’s just that the vector by which they are being unprofessional and inconsiderate has changed.

          1. Honeybee*

            +1. I think so many professors get unnecessarily annoyed at the fact that they’re working with teenagers. I really love working with college students, but one of the things we had to remember is that they’re in college to learn how – among other things – to be adults. You don’t know what you don’t know, and you don’t know e-mail etiquette until someone teaches you. Heck, I can’t even fault some of them for a sense of entitlement; that’s what they’ve known growing up.

        1. SaraV*

          Telling paragraph that this article was written in 2006:

          “Last fall, undergraduate students at Syracuse University set up a group in, an online network for students, and dedicated it to maligning one particular instructor. The students were reprimanded.”

          The article is still quite pertinent, I just found this paragraph slightly amusing.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I was thinking the same thing: that lack of a paper trail is making the candidate think that no one may notice if she reschedules repeatedly. I think that if the software required the OP to accept people’s proposed meeting requests and then sent a confirmation along the lines of “Lucinda has accepted your meeting”, then candidates would be more conscious of the fact that another person is noticing (and planning their time around) their proposed meeting times. The current system seems to leave things open-ended; a meeting response would close the loop and make the appointment time seem more officially final.

      1. AnonaMoose*

        If it’s Doodle, and she hasn’t used it before, she might think that she can make as many changes as she wants and that at date ____, the OP would print out the calendar and tada the end of the process. I really don’t think she gets that it’s sending a note EVERY time.

        I also don’t see why OP is offended. Sure, it’s annoying, but not everyone knows about these tools AS THE ADMIN, merely as the chooser. It’s a bit different in the experience.

        1. Steavy*

          You don’t see why the OP is offended? It’s not like she is cancelling the appointment the day before, she is doing it within hours of the appointment. As someone who has had a job scheduling interviews, I know how annoying this can be. If you are trying to interview someone for a job, rescheduling 5 times shows that the person is not a responsible person or they aren’t that serious about finding a job.

      2. nofelix*

        Yeah this does seem likely to be the issue – a poorly designed user experience means social norms aren’t translating the way they should. The candidate will probably be mortified if they find out.

    3. The IT Manager*

      But that’s just a ridiculous assumption because two of her cancellations were within hours of the interview. Does the candidate think the interviewer only looks at the calendar for the next hour of her day?

      An interviewer might do something like look at her schedule for the day in the morning or even her calendar for the next day at the end of the day and make plans likes reviewing a resume or pulling it up or printing it?

      It’s unprofessional, but it is also scattered and last minute enough that I think cancelling the interview is appropriate. Honestly, LW, do you think there’s anything she can say to you to recover from this? (Frankly even a suddenly ill family member doesn’t excuse not making the time to email and explain why she’s rescheduled 5 times when she had the time to actually reschedule the meeting.) If not, I think it is best that you cancel the interview.

      1. Chriama*

        Eh, if she’s young enough I can see this not being a factor for her. In my second-last year of university I worked part-time in a university office, but the days and times were flexible. After 2 or 3 times where I emailed on the day I was scheduled to work to say I wasn’t coming in, my supervisor had to explain why that was an inconvenience — namely, they put aside work on the assumption I’m going to come in, so if I don’t come in it messes up their schedule. It’s not something that would have occurred to me at that age and level of self-awareness.

        1. Ad Astra*

          I had a similar experience with an on-campus job where I thought “I have plans” was a good enough reason to leave early or not come in. Turns out, that’s not what “flexible hours” means.

          1. Chriama*

            In retrospect, I can’t believe that never trickled through to me. I guess that’s why I’m so sympathetic to the potential interview-ee in this situation. The rescheduling so many times makes me think she’s dealing with anxiety or general disorganization that may not make her a great employee, but the whole ‘not being respectful of interviewer’s time’ is something that I think a lot of young people might be able to relate to, and all it takes is someone pointing it out for them to change their behaviour. I get that someone with several interviewers doesn’t need to go out of their way to correct the behaviour of a single outlier, but I just get kind of a ‘judgy’ vibe here that I think is unwarranted when the OP hasn’t bothered to even mention it to her.

          2. afiendishthingy*

            Yeah, I agree it’s most likely due to inexperience and lack of awareness, and possibly anxiety as well. I would cancel if you’ve got a good sized pool of other applicants with similar or better resume/cover letter who are not constantly rescheduling. If she’s a standout otherwise (which doesn’t seem to be the case) I’d use Alison’s script for confirmation, make that her last chance, and be very cautious about her candidacy.

            You may not have much control over this, but it would be good if once the candidate has requested their time and you’ve confirmed (ideally with a short message like “Looking forward to talking to you on Tuesday! – OP”), if they want to change it they have to request to reschedule, with a mandatory field for writing a message explaining.

            1. Chriama*

              As she is *right now* I think that she’s probably not a great employee. But I don’t know if this is a real issue or just lack of maturity – the latter can be trained. I do think the OP doesn’t owe her a “fair chance”, but I’m just saying that in the right set of circumstances this doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker. I wish the interviewee read ask a manager — that’s where I learned a lot about professional behaviour (definitely not from working for my mom — as a small business owner she’s good about some things but also the *worst* example of certain workplace norms!)

      2. Snarkus Aurelius*

        I agree it’s ridiculous, but I also agree with AAM. This woman wouldn’t be doing it if the correspondence was via phone or email or some form where another human is a witness. This is the only explanation I can think of.

        While people do look at their appointments days in advance or at the start of the day, I bet the applicant didn’t think the OP would notice the daily changes in schedule, especially if she didn’t think the OP was aware of the schedule changes to begin with.

        1. LibrarianJ*

          Yes — I work with college students and they can use a similar online system to set up consultations with us. I see this happen pretty frequently (booking and rebooking, without contacting us, sometimes at the last minute) and can only assume that they don’t think about the human being on the other end arranging their schedule accordingly. Or maybe they DO actually think I don’t check my appointments until immediately before (although to be fair they get a confirmation each time and usually a direct follow-up / greeting from me).

          I hate pointing to the age thing as someone who struggles with being stereotyped and disrespected due to my apparent age…but maybe it really is just a matter of youth or inexperience. In OP’s situation I think my level of patience with this would depend on the strength of her application and/or the number and quality of other applications in the pool. I might take her anyway, but I don’t think cancelling the interview would be out of line. As a candidate, particularly if I were inexperienced, I would probably be initially mortified but then grateful to have my error pointed out to me.

        2. Anonsie*

          Agreed. She may even think that all the open spaces are open interview spots that can be booked at any time by anyone and is thinking of it like an online booking system for a massage therapist or hair salon or something. Sometimes there are rescheduling policies, but I know plenty of places where they don’t care as long as you change it before the actual appointment time because they really do roll in appointment increments.

          1. frequentflyer*

            Yes, she probably thinks all the open spaces are open interview spots and that she’s free to change the time as she pleases, as long as it’s like, 48 hours in advance?

            A little naive but understandable if the candidate doesn’t have a lot of years of working experience… for her sake I hope it’s not a dealbreaker. This is also my first time hearing of such an automated scheduling system and I don’t know, I might just be dumb enough to reschedule like that too (maybe not 5 times though, that’s too much). >_<

            1. frequentflyer*

              Oh no, but now I reread and realized the candidate rescheduled within a few hours of the actual interview itself… this is a Big No-no! I would never do that and would totally understand if OP wanted to drop the candidate.

      3. Van Wilder*

        Agreed! Even if she doesn’t realize there’s a notification every time she changes it, she should know that changing it within the hour is going to be noticeable! Personally, I think this behavior is beyond stupid and I would cancel the interview at this point.

        And what is her mindset? Oh, I’ll just schedule it for Friday and if I don’t feel that I’m ready Friday morning, I’ll just cancel right before? Like it’s a driver’s test or something. Fail.

        1. Dana*

          I can’t get over that it’s a phone interview. It’s not like she’s got to get her suit dry cleaned and put gas in her car or whatever else could cause weird delays if it were in person.

        2. Larold*

          I don’t know, I think that’s a little harsh. I could see myself doing this when I was less experienced. In her mind, the interviewer is probably busy enough that she wouldn’t notice any changes to her schedule as long as they weren’t completely last-minute. (Like when I book appointments online with my booked-solid hairdresser – I don’t feel bad if I need to cancel, because I know that someone else will snap my appointment right up, and the hairdresser doesn’t care as long as someone is sitting in the chair.)

          Maybe she’s a total flake, but maybe she struggles with anxiety, or maybe she’s going through a rough patch in her personal life. She would probably be mortified if she knew that the interviewer was aware of all the changes (and I’m guessing that a quick email from the interviewer after the second cancellation would have prevented the next three from happening).

          1. Larold*

            Err, to be clear, I wouldn’t blame the interviewer if she decided not to give her an interview. I just wouldn’t be so quick to call the candidate’s behavior stupid.

      4. Blurgle*

        > Does the candidate think the interviewer only looks at the calendar for the next hour of her day?

        A thousand times YES. That is exactly what I would have thought at that age.

        When I make an appointment at the Genius Bar using an almost identical system I do not assume the Apple Store has someone waiting specifically on me. I assume someone is going to be there at any time the system allows me to plug in an appointment, whether I show up or not. And if this is a new graduate, this might be what she is thinking.

        Even now, I might not have twigged in to the fact that the OP’s system is to be used the same way as the usual method of making appointments. It’s so unusual – as in I’ve never heard of anyone using anything remotely similar, ever – that I think it needs some explanation on the other end.

      5. PlainJane*

        It also suggests she may not be that interested in the job. Every time I’ve done a job search, I’ve been excited for a phone interview and spent lots of time preparing for it. I’d have doubts about anyone who seemed so unconcerned about an interview.

    4. Elysian*

      Exactly – I think she has no idea you even noticed. I think part of how the OP should handle this depends on how far out the appointment was when it was rescheduled. If the candidate is rescheduling something that is supposed to happen that day, that’s a problem. But I can see a candidate scheduling it for next week, realizing there’s a conflict, and moving it down the road a few days thinking that the OP wouldn’t even have noticed that it had been changed because it was still pretty far out. I think the later is more forgivable.

      1. Elysian*

        Oh I’m thinking I read this sentence “twice within a few hours of our scheduled appointment” wrong – I viewed it as the candidate changed things two or three times within a couple hours, but now I’m thinking it meant close to the appointment time. That’s pretty bad if that happened.

        1. Shan*

          Agreed; I read it the same way at first. I thought they should give her an interview but still address it, since it’s weird and seems disorganized to reschedule five times.

          But on re-read…rescheduling within hours of an interview? Twice? Yikes. It doesn’t matter how you schedule an interview, if you’re changing it within a day or two of the interview time, you need to communicate directly (call or at least email) and have a good reason why you need to reschedule. She didn’t communicate, and since it happened twice, I doubt the rescheduling was due to an emergency. In this case I 100% agree with Alison, and probably wouldn’t give an interview.

      2. Ankh Morpork*

        The LW said that she rescheduled the meeting – not once – but twice within a few hours of the phone interview, so that is a problem. Especially if there are other people who didn’t get that interview slot because she took it – and then ditched.

        Plus – it happened five times! That’s not just something coming up. Is she just pushing it further back every time – or did she ever move it forward? Because if she’s just pushing it back that rings major procrastination bells. Not something you want to see in any candidate.

    5. Kyrielle*

      It’s also possible she thought the meeting wasn’t finalized. The appointment things like this that I’ve dealt with DO send a confirmation when the meeting is finalized, and it’s not until then – so she may have moved the two close to the time of because she thought it “wasn’t happening” and was trying another time. She may just have a faulty model of how the system works. (This doesn’t apply if it clearly tells you that you have the time when select, of course.)

      1. Kelly L.*

        Oh, good point. OP, is there any possibility she thought a response would come back from your company if it was “working properly”?

      2. Ellen*

        I think this is an outstanding point. I can easily see something like that happening to me–I think it’s worth OP’s while to get in touch just in case there was a misunderstanding about the system.

      3. Kairi*

        I also agree with this! I’ve accidentally posted things twice because there wasn’t immediate feedback, so I assumed it hadn’t gone through.

      4. Anonsie*

        Ohh that’s a really good point. Maybe she was thinking of it like those Doodle polls where you’re just checking for available times.

      5. Reverend(ish)*

        This! I had a professor who used Doodle to schedule advising appointing for thesis review, and it was a nightmare. It let multiple people confirm the same time, etc. And I actually did something very similar to the person LW is writing about, and with the associate dean of my academic program (who was reviewing a major grant before I submitted it). The calendar kept rejecting my selection. It finally approved it, but when it cancelled a few hours prior I selected another AND checked with the dean’s staff to see if there had been a tech issue. Turns out, there was a tech problem with the calendar for the school. My meeting was still at the original time, and the entire advising calendar was wonky that semester.

    6. Lily in NYC*

      I agree that she probably didn’t realize that her rescheduling was so obvious, but the fact that she did it only a few hours before some of the interviews would still make me want to cancel. She should have realized that people have to block times for meetings and interviews and that this would be a major inconvenience. To me, fact that she didn’t shows a lack of critical thinking. I’m not sure if I would cancel or not but I’d be tempted.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Oh I’d totally cancel her at this point. What you said plus because this is how she acts when she thinks no one is watching.

        1. Anna*

          I don’t quite understand this particular view. How exactly is she acting when she thinks no one is watching? Like her schedule might change at the last minute and she’ll have to mentally rearrange things? It’s not like she’s nice to animals when there are people around and kicks them when she thinks she’s alone.

      2. Grapey*

        If I’m allowed to choose a time slot, I think I should be able to make it whenever I’d like and reschedule as often as I’d like. Otherwise, it’s on the employee to use software that does what they want, which sounds like letting a customer schedule something only once, or not let meetings be rescheduled within 24 hours of the start for example.

        If I need to spend time preparing for another meeting and don’t want to take an interview, I’ll block time off for that so nobody can schedule something over it.

          1. HarryV*

            I would give the candidate a bit more leeway. This was an experiment on the OP’s part and I can presume not much guide was given to each candidate on how to use the booking system. The presumption is made that if the system allows her to change the schedule, you can. If the OP is not happy that the system allows last min. changes, then the system needs to be updated or just completely throw it out.

            1. fposte*

              There’s nothing special about this system, though. It’s not like emailing people prevents them from changing the schedule, or that their parents have figured out a way to haul them in bodily when they say they’ll visit.

              This isn’t advanced civilization here. Canceling on people when you’ve agreed to share their time, whether they’re friends or prospective employers or hair stylists, is a kind of crummy thing even if you have the freedom to change your schedule.

              1. JS*

                Lots of online scheduling systems won’t let you cancel/reschedule after a certain time or make you call to do it. Actually I haven’t ever used a scheduling system for a business (besides outlook but that’s different) that lets you cancel at the last minute or day of for that matter. They can’t assume especially if the OP admits that this way is less personal. Although no one can make someone show up to something they don’t plan to,that isn’t the issue here. The issue is it looks like there was no meeting confirmation from the system, no follow up saying “call to reschedule”, etc.

                The fact that OP has her full calendar of availability open to everyone automatically puts that power of dictation in their hands. OP is making the process too causal and sending the wrong message about interviewing. Sure we see it differently but not everyone reads ask a manager and there has been many studies confirming automating things previously strictly personal is detrimental. This isn’t a hair appointment it’s a JOB. Should the interviewee realize that on their on? Yep, they should BUT they also should adapt and respond to the company culture they perceive and all open scheduling implicates is that things are super causal and the interviewers time isn’t important.

            2. Artemesia*

              When a candidate shows you they are a PITA believe them.

              If this is a very very junior position that attracts very very inexperienced 19 year olds then maybe a tutorial on civilized behavior is called for.

              But to constantly reschedule appointments, canceling and rearranging them several times near the time they were originally scheduled implies an interviewer who is sitting there with nothing at all to do but wait for the audience with this candidate. How self centered do you have to be to do this 5 times. Once. Okay. Or on the second time, notifying the interviewer that a major disaster has intervened. But to constantly jerk the interviewer around? WHO does that?

        1. OfficePrincess*

          But it’s not about not needing to use the new time slot for something else, it’s about what OP has possibly declined/pushed back to allow for the interview. If I know I have an interview at 2 on Thursday, I have to plan to do all of the other things I need to do as if 2pm on Thursday doesn’t exist.

          1. Koko*

            Or other candidates who weren’t able to book that slot because they didn’t log in looking for a same-day interview!

        2. Lily in NYC*

          This makes no sense to me at all! Especially considering I manage my boss’ calendar. I offer people multiple slots but once you choose one, that’s set in stone unless there’s a conflict that comes up later. And let’s say you can choose a slot – it’s not just about you – those slots are usually being offered to other people at the same time. So no, you don’t get to keep moving your choices as often as you like because there are likely other people involved and it’s absolutely unfair to the people who are originating the meeting to have to keep rearranging things for one person.

  2. fposte*

    I would lean more toward “inexperienced and thoughtless,” but I haven’t met the candidate; I also think that doesn’t necessarily change anything, because those aren’t qualities that put somebody into finalist territory.

  3. jmkenrick*

    I’m not sure what your calendar booking tool looks like. If it’s an Outlook type situation, where it’s clear that you’re blocking time on one-person’s calendar…then, wow, she is either inconsiderate or very naive.

    But many online booking systems are sort of like shooting off suggestions into a void, and they’re increasingly common. I use online booking for my hair appointments, my doctor’s appointments, dinner reservations…I had to schedule a massage for an injury, and used an online booking tool.

    Most of these tools for professionals who essentially reserve their entire day to perform the service that I’m requesting, and it’s typical to allow rescheduling up to 24 hours prior the appointment – this might be the cause of her confusion?

    If you run into this issue again, it might be worth adding a line to your “invitation” e-mail asking people to honor the first time they select.

    Again, if the service you’re using is more of an Outlook-type “shared calendar” situation, then I don’t think the tech is the problem, I think it’s the candidate. But if it functions like an online reservation system, I can understand the confusion.

    1. sunny-dee*

      The only thing I could think of was that maybe she just made a mistake? Like, our calendaring system is really messy, and I have to do things internationally, where, like, my Tuesday evening is Wednesday morning in Australia, and I accidentally book something on the wrong day. I could see her thinking that she picked a Monday when she actually picked Tuesday and then correcting it — but that would be once or twice at the most. I’m hard pressed to find any reasonable reason for rescheduling five times — I wouldn’t do that in a nail salon.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        Yeah, if she can’t figure out how the calendar works after five tries, and other candidates aren’t struggling with it, she still sounds like Not Finalist Material.

    2. Annie Orange*

      I was thinking the same way here.
      Maybe the candidate sees this as kind of a sign-up form, instead of scheduling an appointment that the interviewer will have to make time for. If she thought, for example, that the interviewer had a day full of interviews and she was just signing up for a time to be there, it might make this more understandable.

      1. Cautionary tail*

        Bingo. That was my thought. The candidate sees all these open blocks and is simply signing up for the best block because she has other things going on; since other blocks are open they simply are open. I don’t see this as cavalier at all, just inexperienced. I would send a confirming email and lock it down but not penalize her in any way.

        1. B*

          My thought exactly. If there are tons of open times and I had a meeting pop up I would think, great this time is still available I can move it.

        2. LawLady*

          Exactly what I thought. In fact, just today I was interviewing with firms through my law school’s career services office, and on the day of you can check the schedule posted outside the interviewer’s door and scratch your name out on one slot and sign up on another.

    3. Ad Astra*

      I was thinking of something similar. If the applicant assumes the OP does nothing but interviews all day, so changing from one open slot to another causes no disruption.

    4. Ani*

      I like the idea of either a line in the original letter like what you suggest, or a confirmation letter from the OP of the scheduled time.

  4. Engineer Girl*

    I would revoke it. If a person can’t understand that there is a human being on the other end of the technology then there is a problem.

    1. Steve G*

      I think it depends if it was an hour-long in-person meeting, or a 1/2 an hour phone screen type interview. If it is the latter, I would be much more lenient. In my job search, many companies inadvertently let it be known that there were lots and lots of candidates, and I kind of figured out they were doing phone interview after phone interview after phone interview. Other times, they give me huge swaths of open availability to pick a time for example T, W, TH 8-430. Both of those things make me think that 1) you don’t have any preference for when the call takes place, and 2) you are going to be busy doing a bunch of interviews anyway, so what if I am #4 or #17? You’re probably meeting someone then anyway….

    2. LawBee*

      I disagree. Like the commenter above, it really depends on how the online booking system works – some of them that I’ve used don’t send confirms, don’t update any calendar, nothing. And if the OP isn’t sending out confirms for her interviews, then the applicant probably has no idea that the OP is even seeing them. Five time is excessive, but I can completely see how this would happen.

      It looks like all the OP is doing is sending out a link to the scheduling tool; I didn’t see anything in the letter saying she’s confirming appointments. It’s up to the OP whether she wants to interview this apparently otherwise strong applicant – this wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me. It’s a phone interview, so why not?

    3. JS*

      It’s an increasingly serious problem for society in general. Technology is impersonal by nature so these things are bound to happen. Especially with unchecked technology. If the option is there for her to reschedule at all (honestly there shouldn’t be an option only by email or calling) then that sends the opposite message.

  5. Dawn*

    Snarkus Aurelius brings up a good point- maybe this candidate has NO IDEA that you can see her changing the times like this and would be horrendously mortified to know. Slim hope, but maybe.

    If this is a strong candidate I’d say go ahead and meet with her but definitely bring up the changing interview times and see what her reaction is to get a read on if it’s going to be a dealbreaker or not. However, if she’s just a middling candidate then I’d be more inclined to drop her. I’m a curious person, however, so I’d still want to know wtf either way.

    1. Chriama*

      I suspect she’s not a fantastic candidate or she wouldn’t need to reschedule 5 times. But I don’t think this needs to be a dealbreaker or that it’s proof of anything more than immaturity and limited working experience.

  6. MsM*

    Unfortunately, I’ve done enough scheduling to believe that people really don’t realize this is a problem. Especially if the process is automated: if there’s a free block of time, that means it’s no big deal to just switch, right? Who cares how much effort it took to clear the previous block of time, or what you had to set aside to keep it clear?

    If you’re going to use this on a regular basis, you might want to consider investing in calendar tools that will limit applicants’ ability to make changes. At the very least, I’d set an explicit policy and include it in your instructions to future applicants (e.g. no changes or cancellations less than 48 hours from the appointment without directly contacting you). It does have the disadvantage of not letting you weed out the people who are more concerned with their convenience than yours, but it’ll save you some hassle, and it’ll give you justification to cancel the appointment with anyone who doesn’t bother to read the instructions after the first change rather than the fifth.

    1. Lllll*

      Yes, am I the only one who thinks it’s crazy this calendar system allows others to just delete stuff off your calendar?? Even if others can only delete appointments they themselves set, I think this is a bad system.

      1. JS*

        I think it’s crazy as well! I can’t cancel yoga within a few hours on their system but I can apparently cancel a job interview?! LOL

    2. Anna*

      I would also say that if your calendar tool doesn’t send a confirmation email, you might need to look at that. Or if YOU aren’t sending a confirmation email after you receive notification. I get a feeling the candidate isn’t seeing that it’s set with the OP so she thinks the time is still flexible.

  7. NickelandDime*

    I think I would follow up with her just in case this is a glitch or something you may not be aware of. But if it isn’t, this would bug me. I wonder why she would think you wouldn’t get alerts on this?

    I like the suggestion above about adding a message that if you choose a time, you really need to commit to it.

    1. Kelly L.*

      Yeah, I’m wondering if there’s any weird glitch behind this–and if not, it’s definitely inconsiderate.

    2. Ani*

      When I was younger, I absolutely would not have assumed the OP was getting alerts — ESPECIALLY if I hadn’t gotten any kind of automated alert (confirming that a time had been scheduled, changed, whatever).

    3. Daisy*

      This is what I was going to say, because I had a similar experience recently booking a Skype interview- I kept choosing a time and then getting an error message saying ‘System time out, please try again’. Eventually I just gave up, and then was horrified an hour later to get five automated emails confirming five interview slots. (Obviously I then emailed and explained the problem).

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Oh, I did the same thing the other day with a tech center ticket scheduling system. I put in a request, and it disappeared. So I put in another one, and it also disappeared. By the time I figured it out, I had created three tickets for the same issue, and the system doesn’t let you cancel them. So I had to call the tech department and have them delete the extra tickets.

    4. Oops it might be me*

      I had this problem with a restaurant reservation. I thought it wasn’t letting me book a table for 2, then finally someone called to ask if I really wanted tables at 6:15, 6:30, 6:45, 7:00, AND 7:15. So embarrassing!!

  8. Annie Orange*

    I would still follow up in some way. If this is indeed an Outlook-type system where shes’s fully aware she’s making a specific meeting time, and she’s naive enough to think this doesn’t matter, she may have no idea that you cancelled because of her re-scheduling behavior. It could help her in the future.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Ditto. I don’t consider myself obligated to coach people who apply to me, and I will refuse to coach them out of deal-breaking mistakes (I figure I want my counterparts in other companies to know about this weakness).

      But if it’s something that I think they can learn, and eliminate (and this is), I might well email to say:

      “You’ve rescheduled our interview 5 times now. And a couple of those have happened very shortly before we were to meet. I arrange my day around that schedule, and I consider that to be a firm appointment. For you to change things on very short notice is really inconsiderate. It also doesn’t make you look responsible, professional, or organized.”

      And then either: “Therefore, I am canceling our interview; I have plenty of more organized candidates whose qualifications fit the position. Best of luck in your search elsewhere.”

      Or: “I’m willing to meet with you, but you will need to be here at the interview time currently on the schedule. And be aware that you have made this first impression. See you on Thursday at 1 p.m.”

        1. Lanya*

          I think the “be aware that you have made this first impression” part is a little scoldy/unnecessary.

        2. Justin*

          Yeah just because you have the power to hire me and you’re older, gives you no right to scold me. Just decline and move on if you don’t want to interview me.

  9. Observer*

    I think that right now it would be a bit unfair to cancel. My first thought as I was reading this was FIVE TIMES? Why on earth did you let it go this far? I’m not at all defending the candidate, because this really is ridiculous. But, especially if she’s relatively new to this, it’s easy to see how she might miss that this is a real problem.

    I would send a note – I think Alison’s wording here is excellent. And, if she does this again, absolutely cancel.

    I do think that you are right, though, that this does cast a cloud on this person’s candidacy. I know that this would lead me to look very closely at how she respects people’s time, resources and space. Also, whether she is good about thinking through the likely effects of her actions. It could be she just misunderstood the nature of the system. But, this could also be a red flag, and it’s worth keeping your eyes open for this.

  10. Katie the Fed*

    She’s probably treating it the same way I treat OpenTable. Oooh, reservation in 10 minutes? Better cancel!

    1. stellanor*

      I’m about to leave for a booking at a restaurant that required me to give my credit card info to even make a reservation so they could nail me with a fee if I canceled without notice. Which kind of makes sense since they’re popular and booked up every single night and I was lucky to get a table period.

      You bet your buttons I’m gonna be on time.

      1. Ad Astra*

        I just made an appointment for a spray tan that had the same policy. If you don’t want me canceling an online booking at short notice, you’re gonna need to make that clear.

        1. Tau*

          It’s odd to me that so many people are saying this about online appointments – I treat any I make as as firm as ones arranged in person, and if I have to cancel on short notice for reasons out of my control I’ll probably do it by calling them up and apologising.

  11. BRR*

    I think you should weigh how good the candidate is, the type of manners this role requires (i.e. do they need to frequently make appointments), and the difficulty in finding candidates for this position.

    You should either:
    – Cancel but let her know why.
    – Reach out to cement a time (I’d point out you noticed she kept changing the time and you need to lock something down in your schedule maybe throw in hiring timeline blah blah) but definitley mark this down.

  12. Cristina in England*

    It is not her fault, it is a design problem with the booking process and the commonness of automated booking tools.

    I think it is not clear to her that you can see the changes and that it affects your schedule at all. Because of the proliferation of online booking tools, it probably just seems like they’re all completely interchangeable to her. If I were her I would probably assume the same to be honest.

    I don’t think she is being inconsiderate of your time, I think it is probably the design of the page/form and the process that makes it seem like it is all completely automated. For example, I am not a moron if I try to pull open a push door when there is a pull handle on it, the door is signaling “pull me”. Similarly, if there is nothing personal about the process and all of the “free” blocks of time look exactly that, “free”, and if there aren’t accompanying signals that this is tied to a person, I can she why she would think it was all interchangeable.
    There might be a way you can personalize the process more within the software?

    1. fposte*

      I get that it might not have occurred to her, but I think that’s a level of thoughtlessness that’s a problem–she hasn’t thought through to the ramifications if you’re scheduling with an actual person. Even if she encounters it elsewhere, this would be a sucky thing to do to a hair stylist, too.

      1. Ad Astra*

        It’s something I’ve done to hair stylists before, though I agree it’s not the most polite. But is it sucky to cancel a dinner reservation at the last minute? Not really. Maybe the applicant is thinking of this more like booking a restaurant than booking a haircut.

        1. fposte*

          But…then she’s thoughtless. I don’t see any way of getting around the “thoughtless” obstacle here.

          (You cancel on most stylists I know twice like that, they won’t book you again.)

          1. Grapey*

            I find it thoughtless on the company’s side to use potentially ambiguous scheduling software. If they want to be treated like an actual person, then they should reach out like an actual person.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Wait, are you talking about the OP here? It’s really normal for people to use this kind of scheduling software in lots of business contexts, because it cuts down on back and forth and allows the applicant to choose the time slot most optimal for themselves. Most people I know appreciate that option.

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                Yes, I really wish we used scheduling software in my office. The back-and-forth makes scheduling meetings such a headache.

              2. Blurgle*

                At least where I am, it’s almost unknown in a business setting. If this is the first time the candidate’s ever seen it or had the chance to see it, it isn’t really fair to expect her to get it perfect “the first time”.

                1. catsAreCool*

                  No matter how an appointment is made, it seems like a candidate should understand that rescheduling “twice within a few hours of our scheduled appointment” might be a problem.

              3. JS*

                I agree that it’s normal to use online scheduling systems it just isn’t normal at all for them to be so cavalier and not have crystal clear scheduling policies laid or sometimes not even have the ability to cancel or reschedule at all without calling or emailing, especially a few hours before. Besides, it could be like booking an hair appt without requesting a person, you don’t know who will be styling you then you just know someone will be available at that time. I’ve had phone interviews scheduled where the person who scheduled and the person who called were two different people and they didn’t tell me to expect that.

                I do think it’s irresponsible to treat any kind of job that way however if this is a jr position and the person is a millineal then they have the technology = impersonal idea even more engrained into them. Just because other interviewers didn’t cancel or reschedule this many times before doesn’t mean they didn’t think they had the option to do so.

              4. Justin*

                This is normal for job interviews? I don’t believe that at all. I’ve never encountered this or even heard of it.

          2. Anonsie*

            Depends on what she thinks is happening behind the screen. There are online booking systems where you’re supposed to treat it the way you’re talking about– the person sees this as an appointment in advance and plans for it so rescheduling is annoying for them.

            Then there are ones where all open times are open and the person is available regardless, and when you actually set the appointment for doesn’t make a difference to the person you’re meeting with as long as you do it before the actual appointment time.

            And theeen there’s the possibility of her not getting confirmations and thinking it’s not working, technical errors, misunderstanding this and thinking it’s a Doodle poll and trying to offer multiple upcoming timeslots… I can think of a lot of things.

        2. jmkenrick*

          Well, actually, many restaurants would argue that it is sucky to cancel a dinner reservation at the last minute.

          That’s why it’s getting increasingly common for higher-end restaurants to request credit card information with their bookings, and ticketing options are starting to become more popular.

          But I agree with your point: we’re probably all engaging in some thoughtless behaviors, because we’re unaware of the trouble we might be causing on the other end. Even if OP decides not to interview this candidate, communication about why would be a kindness…and I’m not convinced it reflects on the candidates character in any major way, beyond naivete.

          1. Ad Astra*

            But when restaurants ask you to provide a credit card or doctor’s offices warn you about a no-show fee, they’re being crystal clear from the beginning about their expectations. And typically they just charge you for canceling, not for rescheduling. Since an HR recruiter or a hiring manager isn’t being paid for each interview, it’s not as obvious that these changes would cause a problem the way they would for a hairdresser or a doctor.

            So perhaps the OP needs to include a line like “Please give me at least 24 hours’ notice if you need to reschedule” in her initial email.

            1. Just another techie*

              Especially since, as she was able to do this five times, there were at least five other open blocks in the OP’s calendar, if not more. Given the huge swath of open spots, she might have thought “Oh, OP is doing nothing but phone interviews this week. And all these spots are open — I guess the other candidates haven’t picked their slots yet.”

              I don’t think this candidate’s behavior is great — there’s still a level of not thinking through the ramifications of her assumptions that I don’t love — but OP should have asked what was going on after the second reschedule.

              1. Anonsie*

                I interview people for studies and people TOTALLY do this with me unless I explain why they shouldn’t, and I get why. When I offer them a spot I offer them big swaths of time on multiple days, so when the interview time rolls around a lot of them call me like 5 minutes in advance and ask for one of the other time slots I offered. They are also thinking that I’m just doing interviews and it’s no skin off my nose if it gets moved, they don’t realize a lot of prep has to go into it and rescheduling is a huge issue.

                So now I know I have to be really explicit about that to keep people from doing that. But I also totally understand why people think this is a non-issue for me if I don’t explain it.

            2. Shell*

              I’d argue this is not like restaurants or office appointments.

              I mean, yes, for restaurants, hair stylists, etc. it’s also rude to cancel at the last minute. But the intention of those businesses is to have customers come in the door, perform a service, and then done. They are losing out on potential business during last-minute cancellations, yes, but the intention behind the arrangement is to perform a service for a customer.

              The point of the OP here isn’t just to have people come in the door, it’s to hire someone for a specific role. For a restaurant, time-wasting issue aside, it makes no real difference to them if Patron A comes on Wednesday or Tuesday, all other things being equal (party size, amount of money spent, etc.) But for the OP, she’s trying to fill a position. The focus is entirely different, and she isn’t there to serve the OP. I think it’s totally fair for OP to consider the flakiness a dealbreaker and move on to other candidates.

              I don’t think the onus is on the OP to alert all and sundry that “hey, give me 24 hours notice before you cancel” because again, this isn’t her responsibility. And my cynical side thinks that should such a warning be given, it might prompt flaky people to think “oh, as long as I give notice, cancellations are cool, it’s just like a restaurant” whereas if a person cancelled on me five times for an interview, even with 24 hours of notice each time, chances are I will move onto another candidate–both because I’m tired of the flakyness and because chances are there would be another candidate with a better grasp of scheduling.

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                True, but businesses make decisions based on reservations. How many servers do we need that night? When should we schedule breaks? Who should cover what area? For a hairstylist, when can I grab my lunch? Sweep the floors? Refill supplies? Take a breather? Can I work a haircut in while this person sits with their hair in foil under the dryer?

                And people who cancel at the last minute are also being inconsiderate of other customers who might have wanted to take that spot but couldn’t because it was already taken, so they schedule for a less convenient time. That true in this case, too–it’s possible that other candidates would have liked some of the spots she took but then cancelled. I’m not saying that the candidate here had a moral obligation not to take a spot and then change it, and I’m not saying that you should never cancel a hair appointment at the last minute. Stuff happens. I’m just saying, that kind of thing affects more than just the person cancelling, but many people don’t think about that.

                1. Shell*

                  That’s all true, which was why I said all other things being equal; but yes, realistically, you can’t control for that in the service industry.

                  My point–which I should’ve made clearer–is that I don’t think the candidate should be cut any slack, even if the reason for all this flakiness is that she assumed “oh, it’s just like last-minute cancellation of restaurants/hairdressers/other common service” and didn’t think much about it. You pointed out very clearly why it’s crappy to cancel on people in the service industry; I’m arguing that in this case, it’s even worse to cancel on the OP because the point of OP’s job isn’t even to serve this incomer for monetary exchange. OP is trying to fill a role. It’s very reasonable to consider other candidates who have a better grasp on their schedules, even if this candidate is better on paper.

                  I mean, by the time cancellation #3 happens, this candidate better blow all the other candidates out of the stratosphere and have an excellent explanation for the cancels for me to even want to consider her. We’re now at cancellation #6. Frankly, I don’t care what her reason is; she doesn’t seem like someone whom I can count on to be there on the job.

                2. JB (not in Houston)*

                  @Shell I agree. I’m sure there is some explanation that would make me still consider her, but I can’t think of what that might be. Even the stuff that would excuse it once or twice wouldn’t cut it at this point.

            3. fposte*

              Sure, some have developed that as a response to the flake situation, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to flake on the others or they won’t bounce you if you do.

              Most candidates don’t need to be told this. I don’t see any reason why the OP needs to commit to additional maintenance with the outlier who does.

        3. TootsNYC*

          yeah, if I’ve spoken for a professional’s time, I consider it rude in the extreme to change things on very short notice. They may have passed up other clients, other projects, other ANYthing.

          If it’s farther out? I don’t feel particularly bad. But when you get closer to the time frame, you’re really rude to switch stuff around; and you only have a chance of mitigating that if you speak to them in person.

          But regardless–five times? She’s completely unorganized and unable to keep commitments. She’s picking the time–she can’t meet it?

        4. Honeybee*

          Why would a professional think that scheduling an interview is like booking a restaurant or booking a haircut?

          It’s an interview. Both parties have to prepare in advance for it, so when I schedule it, I would assume that it’s a hard and fast time – or at least that if I need to reschedule I should give some advance notice, and not do so a few hours before it’s scheduled to begin.

            1. catsAreCool*

              Why does the method of creating the appointment affect whether or not the appointment is important? Don’t job applicants generally try to make a good impression on the person doing the interviews?

    2. Steve G*

      But is their a proliferation of booking tools for hiring managers to farm out the scheduling part of their job to a candidate? I’ve never seen that.

      The truth is that the OP is trying to farm out what was always part of their job to people they’ve never even met with, so if there are unintended consequences, you can’t 100% blame the other person. That is part of giving up control of the task. Presumably the time/effort saved by not having to do email of phone back and forths is worth this inconvenience.

      1. OfficePrincess*

        I’m not sure how presenting a list of available options and asking the candidate to pick one is OP farming out part of her job. Sure she’s using calendar technology instead of an email, but it’s still the same thing.

    3. R*

      I also wonder if the tool isn’t alerting her that you’ve confirmed. Is there a chance she doesn’t think you’ve confirmed the time, so is trying to find another spot in the near future? Again, not the savviest move, but not necessarily inconsiderate.

      1. Cautionary tail*

        I wondered the same thing. If she’s getting an automated confirmation then the onus is on you, not her. You need a better system and shouldn’t punish candidates because your company won’t buy a proper system.

    4. Manders*

      My boss wanted to put a system like this in place for clients, and the schedulers had to talk him out of it for exactly this reason. I think something as simple and sending an automated confirmation email every time a change is made might help, but any system like this runs the risk of being misused by people who mean well but don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes.

    5. The IT Manager*

      But even for booking tools it’s not completely interchangeable. If you schedule an appointment with someone who has a whole day set aside to provide a service then they expect their calendar to fill up, and last minute cancellations leave holes in the schedule, prevents someone else from filling the slot, and costs the service provider money. So for something like that that is still very inconsiderate to cancel a few hours before a scheduled appointment.

      1. Grapey*

        If a business is in danger of losing money due to last minute cancellations, I think it’s on them to say (and perhaps use software that enforces) “X hours needed for cancellation, otherwise there will be a $ fee.” Or have them pay a deposit.

        You wouldn’t ask someone to pay to hold an interview slot, so its on the interviewer to make boundaries about when she can hold interviews.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          But that’s not necessary because this 99% of people (in my experience) understand that you don’t cancel interviews willy-nilly. That would be a solution in search of a problem that doesn’t really exist. The candidate in the OP’s post is highly unusual.

  13. Brett*

    My wife teaches private lessons. Every year, she dreads the first part of the year where she has to set her schedule for the rest of the year. Five changes? I think she has seen over 80 changes from approximately 20 students before the first week is over.
    If people think that time is an open block, they will try to move inside those open blocks.

    Which leads to my one question for the OP…. were you emailing confirmation of these new appointment times every time? Without such confirmation, I could see a candidate assuming that this was just a time blocking program like Doodle where they are shifting around to indicate their preferred time blocks until they get a confirmation of the official time.
    (And if, by chance, you are using Doodle, this is exactly how Doodle is most commonly used.)

    1. afiendishthingy*

      My one question is “Have you had problems with other applicants doing this kind of thing, or is she a total outlier?” If large numbers of applicants are struggling I would look at the calendaring tool, and have others you know do so as well, and see if it’s confusing for anyone else and decide what could be changed to make it more intuitive. If it’s just this applicant, though, it’s a huge red flag for her candidacy.

  14. Phil Weber*

    Maybe she’s job hunting while still employed. Perhaps she scheduled an appointment, then something urgent came up at her day job and she had to reschedule. In that situation, I would try to schedule an interview during non-work hours, but that may not be an option on the OP’s calendar.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I don’t care what the reasons were; it was still lame of her not to contact OP directly.

    2. Dana*

      But it’s a phone interview. That much can’t possibly come up where you can’t walk out into the parking lot for a half hour to chat.

      1. B*

        I have that much come up every single day. I am always pulled into random meetings all day which make it very difficult to schedule a phone meeting. As someone mentioned if this is similar to doodle where the blocks of time still show as free it is giving them a false sense that they can switch the times. Truth be told I am not sure I would realize that she was being notified each time or that it is an issue.

        1. Kairi*

          +1 When I was doing phone interviews, I always scheduled them before or after work so that way I wouldn’t miss the phone call. I currently work as an admin assistant, so it’s very possible for me to have my plans change the last second because someone needs my help.

        2. Honeybee*

          Even if it does, though, I think it would be standard to contact the interviewer ahead of time – especially if you are changing within a few hours – and inform her of the emergency.

  15. Lunar*

    I would agree with the people who said that she probably doesn’t realize that it would make a difference except for the fact that the reschedules are happening so close to the appointments. I can definitely see someone making an appointment for a week from Tuesday and then rapidly changing it to a week from Wednesday instead if they realize that they have a conflict, but not a few hours prior to the appointment.
    I wonder if they are rescheduling because they didn’t get a confirmation from you about the meeting (if you don’t send an acceptance or a confirmation email)? Maybe she was thinking “Oh, I never heard back from OP about meeting at 1:00, so I guess they didn’t get the message/can’t make it. I’ll make another appointment.” Obviously it would be better to reach out to you directly to confirm or to just show up to the meeting anyway just in case, but people (me included) often don’t ask questions (especially in interview/application situations) for fear of seeming ignorant.

    1. Manders*

      This is a good point! Since the other candidates aren’t doing this, it could still be a sign that she’s less tech savvy or more shy about reaching out, but if she’s not getting any confirmation of the appointment I can see why this keeps happening.

  16. Ad Astra*

    I can understand why the OP is annoyed, but I don’t think it’s a good reason to cancel an interview with someone you think is qualified. Especially if this is an entry-level or more junior position.

    1. In many calendar programs it’s easy to accidentally select the wrong day or time, which could account for at least one of those changes.
    2. Since the email essentially says “Hey, pick a time slot,” it’s not crazy for the applicant to think it’s fine to change her mind.
    3. She might have a really good reason, like a family emergency, for changing the schedule. If you were scheduling interviews by phone, she would of course call and you’d be happy to accommodate her. You’re not getting a personal explanation because the impersonal system you’re using doesn’t indicate that you need one.
    3. The interviewer is being paid to interview this person as part of her job, while the applicant is spending her own time (possible PTO at another job) and resources to meet with this person. If the time slot is open on your calendar, it’s reasonable to think that you’re available at that time.

    Allison’s wording is perfect. Politely asking her to confirm a date will likely send the subtle message that yes, you’re seeing all of those schedule changes, and it’s a little annoying.

    1. Observer*

      3. The interviewer is being paid to interview this person as part of her job, while the applicant is spending her own time (possible PTO at another job) and resources to meet with this person. If the time slot is open on your calendar, it’s reasonable to think that you’re available at that time.

      The interviewer is being paid to interview more than one person. And, the issue is not using up an open slot, but keeping a slot closed – to the point that the slot is almost certainly unusable.

  17. jhhj*

    I also think it can easily be an understandable mistake (though cancelling a phone interview the day of is not done, the rescheduling using an online scheduling program seems normal). If it weren’t for the “twice within a few hours” thing, I would still interview and ask about it — you’ll probably get an answer like the person mixed something up or didn’t realise they were confirmed or whatever. Even given the rescheduling right before — if they don’t get a confirmation email, I could imagine rescheduling AGAIN to get a confirmation.

  18. eee*

    I agree that knowing the confirmation system would be an important element for me. This is also something you might be able to side-step in the initial email, with language like “please contact me if you need to reschedule your appointment,” so they know you do want them to inform you rather than just changing it in a system. I would probably not do it an hour before the appointment, or even a day before, but I could definitely see myself in an online system skipping around from open slot to open slot, not thinking that I was wreaking havoc with someone’s schedule.

  19. The OP*

    Hi everyone,

    This is the OP — thanks for all the comments! To clarify a few questions about the platform — I use YouCanBookMe. After selecting a time, candidates enter basic contact information, then get a display page saying the appointment is booked, THEN get an email saying it’s booked (along with the details around timing). That said, there is a link at the bottom of the email that lets you cancel or reschedule (auto-generated). If you reschedule, you get yet another email confirming your new time.

    Also — update! I was supposed to speak with this candidate yesterday (finally!), and she rescheduled 40 minutes before our call. This makes it the third cancellation within a few hours of our meeting.

    I’m honestly a little amused at this point… and almost curious to see how many times this can happen!? ;) That said, I love Alison’s suggested wording, and am inclined to see how the candidate responds after I bring up the multiple reschedulings. Her response should give better insight into what’s going on.

    Thanks again everyone!

    1. Annie Orange*

      Please update after you hear back from her!!
      I think this is really strange behavior, now that we have a little more background. I’m really curious what keeps her switching, especially without explaining or reaching out to clarify anything.
      Maybe she has terrible anxiety and it’s keeping her from feeling like she’s able to go through with it?
      But that is a really high number of times to switch it up like that.

      1. jmkenrick*

        I’m betting that it hasn’t dawned on her that it’s one person’s time she’s booking. I wonder if she thinks it’s more like a system that is assigning the interview to an open HR rep.

        That said, this thinking would be a little foolish on her part.

        A separate question is: wouldn’t she be eager to get the interview done & over with? That might be where some anxiety is coming into play.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          Another separate question: After rescheduling so many times, wouldn’t you worry that the interview period has closed?
          It would be easy for the OP to email and say “We have completed interviews for this position. Sorry you were not able to make your appointment times (all 6 of them).”

          1. jmkenrick*

            Right? And it increases the chances they’ll find someone else who is a good match for the position.

    2. Cautionary tail*

      Thank you for the clarifying information. Rescheduling 40 minutes beforehand is a different twist on this. Since the candidate should have been on her way to the interview at that point, is not just inexperienced, it’s rude and insulting and more.

      1. Chriama*

        Not necessarily true that she’s already on her way to the interview, and even if so it doesn’t mean she think that the interviewer is interrupting her day for this. I’d assume she’s pushing it back due to anxiety or something, and OP pointing out that she’s rearranging her day for these interviews will totally mortify her.

          1. Chriama*

            Is ‘rude’ something you can be non-deliberately? I would agree that it’s thoughtless (as in, she’s literally not thinking about the person on the receiving end of her actions), but I don’t think it’s deliberate, so I wouldn’t necessarily call it rude? Is that just semantics?

            1. Parfait*

              Of course you can be non-deliberately rude. I really hope that most of the rudeness in the world is non-deliberate. That makes me feel a lot better than assuming that everyone who is ever rude totally meant to be on purpose.

            2. JB (not in Houston)*

              Based on the inappropriate but non-malicious questions that people get subjected to every day, I’d say yes, you can be rude non-deliberately.

              Are you putting on weight? Why are you divorcing your husband? Are those your biological children? How much did you pay for your house? Are those real?

      2. AE*

        It *seems* rude and insulting, until you get the story for sure. You can’t imbue someone else’s motives based on your own feelings. That would be as unprofessional as not showing up to an appointment (which isn’t what this person is doing, so at least give her that much credit)

        1. Myrin*

          Um, nope, it is rude, no matter the motive. Motives aren’t the deciding factor in determining whether something is rude or not (see JB (not in Houston)’s perfect examples one comment above yours).

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Thanks! And I think your “no matter the motive” point matters on these things. Intent is definitely *a* factor in deciding how to react to rudeness. My grandmother could be really rude, but she wasn’t (usually) malicious, just curious, so I let a lot of things slide. But intent isn’t what makes it qualify as rude or not.

        2. LiveAndLetDie*

          That’s not how it works, though. Finding someone’s actions rude and insulting is *all about* your feelings. Their motive doesn’t matter — if they say something and you are insulted by it, they’ve been rude regardless of how they meant their words to come out.

    3. Chriama*

      The more I hear about it, the more confused I am about your passivity about the whole thing. If she cancels less than an hour before you’re supposed to meet, why not follow up with her? Is there anything in the booking system that indicates rescheduling should only be done after emailing you, or only with <48 hours notice?

      I'm assuming the situation is something like: she's young, immature, and a little flaky. I agree with other commenters who've noted that she might be treating this like a restaurant reservation, and an automated message does not indicate a real human is looking at this. It sounds like this is the initial phone screen, so she's probably imagining someone who gets a pop-up 5 minutes before the meeting and asks a bunch of generic questions, not someone who is planning their day around this interview.I can see why she would assume that any time period is fine and she can reschedule whenever. Thoughtless for sure, but understandable if she's immature (and by immature I mean a young person who hasn't quite developed self-awareness and has limited exposure to professional situations).

      1. Shell*

        Personally, I think this situation is explainable (young, immature, etc.), but I wouldn’t go out of my way to keep this candidate on the shortlist after five–now six!–cancellations. There’s a line between understandable and excuse, and by cancellation #3 I think she crossed it. Her potential anxiety or other possible explanations are not the OP’s problem, and this is not a restaurant or hair stylist. The purpose is to fill a role.

        Actions having consequences is key in gaining more maturity. And in this case, consequences can mean anything from a pointed conversation to outright rejecting the candidate. Frankly, I’d be leaning towards the latter unless the candidate really blows all the others out of the water.

        Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement.

          1. Chriama*

            Actually, that’s fair. The thing that gets me is watching her make so many cancellations and not saying anything. I think I’m projecting on the interview-ee here, but there are a lot of stupid things I’ve done where I really wish someone had told me not to do those things first (see above story about my on-campus job). Totally not the OP’s job, but if you’re going to let her reschedule 6 times anyways (therefore re-arranging your schedule 6 times), what’s the harm in taking 2 minutes to drop her an email? Even an email cancelling the interview and explaining why is better than non-response which is being interpreted as approval – or at least indifference.

    4. Snarkus Aurelius*

      Question. Is she always putting off the interview for a later date or is it a jumble of times getting pushed forward and back?

      The former sounds like there are Issues.

    5. NickelandDime*

      See, I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. Forty minutes before the call? Nope.

    6. The IT Manager*

      At this point I’d be tempted to let it keep happening until – surprise – she actually makes it to the meeting. And then you could just ask her what’s up with all the cancellations and tell her that you’ve moved on to other people because she was such a flake about the appointment. Also consider all the applicants who worry about not responding to interview requests immediately and fear that any delay means the miss out. This is also a sign that this applicant is just not into your company.

      And if the problem is crippling anxiety, well then clearly her anxiety is just too bad at this time for her to get a job where she has to interact with people.

      1. Dana*

        I like this, but I’ll admit I’m a bit vindictive. “But you’re wasting my time giving me an interview just to tell me you moved on…” EXACTLY.

    7. Ad Astra*

      Ooh, 40 minutes beforehand is pretty rough. I’m glad you’re still speaking with her, though, and I’m very curious about how she responds.

    8. Three Thousand*

      If you’re honestly curious about what’s motivating her, I would bet money she keeps getting cold feet and is scared to go through with the interview. She needs to either be forced to go through with it or lose the chance entirely.

    9. Meg Murry*

      Can you change the text in the message so that it doesn’t just have a link that says “cancel or reschedule” but put something above that link about how a change less than 24 or 48 hours before the meeting needs to be done by phone or email not with the link? Or even just remove the option to change or reschedule altogether?

      I know it seems kind of rude for her to be doing this, but I suspect its like other say – she probably wouldn’t do it if she had to call or email an actual human, but being able to just click a link that says “reschedule” is too easy.

      1. MsM*

        It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s either not something you can edit or a paid feature. If so, you might still have to send out your own follow-ups, OP.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Actually, it looks like the “cancel or reschedule” option can be turned off from the YouCanBookMe site – although maybe that is not available for the free option.

          If this is the only person doing this I’d let it go. If its actually more common and this person is only the worst but others do it too, I would remove it and instead put “if you can not make this appointment, please call 123-456-7890 to cancel or reschedule”

      2. Meg Murry*

        Does the system send out an automatic “don’t forget you have an appointment today” message? I feel like the other possibility is she is a flake and not putting it in her own calendar, and then when she gets the email she says “oh crap, I can’t do that today, I have to [work at my campus job, go to study group, go to prof X’s office hours, go on a date, whatever]. Oh look, a cancel or reschedule button, I’ll just reschedule.”

        I worked in a college office where we made appointments with students all the time, but only added it to the Dean’s or whomever they were meeting with’s calendar, not the students. The morning of the appointments, or the afternoon before, the Dean’s secretary would call all the students scheduled for the next 24 hours and remind them of the appointment – usually leaving a message becasue they didn’t answer the call. Then the next morning we’d be flooded with “oh no, I can’t make that appointment today because of XYZ, can I change it?!?” calls. 90% of the time the student wound up keeping the appointment because to reschedule pushed you back usually 2 weeks for the next available appointment and they decided they actually could skip whatever it was they had scheduled at the same time as their appointment.

        I feel like she’s taking the easy way out by clicking the reschedule button, because it’s there and easy. I personally would take it away and just put the phone number down instead. Yes, you’ll get calls from people wanting to reschedule – but probably less than the number who are using the automatic rescheduling feature.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I thought this as well–she’s only responding because she gets a reminder email from the website/service.

    10. Grapey*

      The youcanbookme site talks about features that will help the people that are trying to schedule with you. I.e. “Let your customers reschedule easily!”

      You might want to look for something that is more interviewer-centric that will let you lock down the number of times someone can reschedule, or close off slots that are within 24 or 48 hours.

      1. LBK*

        No, I’m sorry, this is a ridiculous benefit of the doubt to give the candidate. There is no way you read the sentence “easy to reschedule” and think that means you can fling etiquette out the door and cancel at the last minute multiple times. It’s not like the only thing preventing people from rescheduling last-minute before the invention of scheduling apps was that the technology didn’t exist – people didn’t do it before because it’s rude and wastes that person’s time, and if you absolutely have to do it it’s usually accompanied by a sincere apology for the inconvenience. That doesn’t go away just because the technology changes and I’d seriously question the judgment of a candidate who thought it did.

    11. MsM*

      Oh, good grief. Much as I’d love to hear her explanation, I think at this point, you’d be totally justified to send the “After so many reschedulings, I can only assume you’re not truly interested in the position, and we need to keep our time slots free for serious candidates” email.

      1. AE*

        …and she would be correct in assuming that the company runs on assumptions rather than facts.

        I would never admit to making a decision based on assumptions.

        1. MsM*

          And the only fact the hiring manager has to work with is that this person thought it was okay to cancel right before the interview happened. A candidate who genuinely cares about the job will realize that’s not something you do if you want to make a good impression or move on to the next phase of the hiring process as quickly as possible, and will either go ahead with the interview, or reach out as soon as possible to apologize and explain why it was necessary to reschedule on such short notice. This person hasn’t done either of those things, so they can’t be all that concerned if it potentially costs them the job.

          1. Tau*

            Yeah… I had to reschedule two interviews when I was job-hunting a few months ago, one of them the day before the interview, and I was absolutely mortified and apologised hugely. And that was because of a sudden and severe health crisis that meant I was barely able to leave the house… and I *still* got berated for being unprofessional by one of the people I contacted.

            I am seriously bewildered at the idea of cancelling, multiple times, hours or less before the interview, with no explanation given, and expecting no negative consequences from that!

      1. fposte*

        Can’t speak for the OP, but I wouldn’t, because my job is to hire for my opening, not to make sure that every applicant gets every chance possible. I don’t call people with typos on their resumes or missing info in their cover letters, either. I don’t spend time tracking down the reason why somebody isn’t presenting themselves well; I just choose other candidates.

        1. Chriama*

          The weird part about this is that the OP lets her keep rescheduling while disapproving. Why not just reject her after the first couple of cancellations? And now that it’s gotten to this point, why not just let her know why it’s inappropriate? She’s spending a lot of time observing how unprofessional this is and thinking about how to respond, so why refuse to do the one thing that might make a difference for this candidate going forward and just *tell* her that this is inappropriate?

        2. LiveAndLetDie*

          Yes to this. There’s a lot of commentary here that assumes a hiring manager has to give every candidate as many opportunities as possible to present themselves and get an interview, when that just is not the case. No one has the time to give people 2nd and 3rd chances. My question for the OP at this point is “Why haven’t you shut this down yet?”

    12. LawBee*

      Well, then at this point I’d wonder if she actually wants the job. I’d still follow up with her over email (because waiting to see how it plays out for your own amusement if you have no intention of interviewing her is kind of mean), even if it’s to say that you’re moving forward with other candidates.

      For the record, I hate online booking of appointments. It’s so impersonal and cold, even though I understand why they’re used.

    13. Anonsie*

      If I were you, I would definitely email her and ask what the heck. Hopefully, as you say, her reaction will be a clue as to whether she is really that scattered or if there was a misunderstanding somewhere. I would give her the benefit of the doubt until I talked to her just because you never know *shrugs* but if there isn’t a pretty good explanation then yeah, I’d bounce her. At this point I’d ask just out of sheer curiosity even if I did want to cancel the interview entirely.

      Aside from misunderstandings and technical issues, you know what else comes to mind though? I know a lot of people (A LOT of people) who think that if you make an appointment with someone and they don’t confirm a second time within a day or something, then the appointment is canceled. I’ve known a lot of people who assumed that, say, the reminder call from your doctor’s office is actually a confirmation that you still have an appointment, and without it you don’t have one anymore. Or they make plans to meet a friend a week out and if the friend doesn’t contact them at least the day before the plans to reiterate that the plans are still on, that means they are canceled.

      Personally I think this is really, really, really silly but I know a ton of folks who expect double confirmations and give them as well.

    14. TootsNYC*

      40 minutes before? She’s out of contention.

      Can you imagine if she gets the job? Will she show up for work, even?

      1. F.*

        I wonder if she would treat the job as cavalierly, calling off at the last minute, no show, etc. I don’t care how young she is, by the time I was 12 years old and tutoring, I understood that if you gave your word that you would be there at a certain time, you either showed up on time or called with an apology and a darn good reason. It is very disrespectful to the other party to keep rescheduling.

    15. Kadee*

      I think the online booking and reschedule option in the email are lulling her into thinking that she has the option to schedule and reschedule at her heart’s desire rather than viewing it as she should a typical interview. Your sitting back and just watching to see what happens next is confirming that it’s not an issue since you never say anything contrary and you seem okay with her taking up time slots that could be used by others.

      If you want to exclude her from going forward, do so. If you are open to keeping her in the running, send her an email stating that if she’s unable to keep her next scheduled appointment that you’ll have to part ways. Doing nothing seems unkind to me and a waste of your time.

    16. Jay*

      I’m interested in which software works for folks. I’ve looked into YouCanBookMe and I’m currently using Google Calendar Appointment Slots but have had some problems with it. I’d love to know what other folks use and if it works well.

    17. Koko*

      OP, you might try friendly-ing up the language of the automated email so it sounds more like a human wrote it, more like your own typical emails instead of the boilerplate type language I’m thinking your tool probably comes stock with.

    18. LiveAndLetDie*

      40 minutes before the call? This is the third time within a few hours and you’re not booting her from candidacy? At this point I think you’re giving this person far too many opportunities. She has proven to you that she has no respect for your time. What makes you think she will do the job with anything less than the same dismissive attitude?

  20. Sammie*

    OK—Maybe I lack the appreciation of “modern” manners (and kids, today)—but this behavior pretty darn rude.

    1. Salli*

      You’re right – rudeness and unprofessionalism is definitely limited to just “kids” these days..

    2. LawBee*

      darn kids get off my lawn with your tight jeans and your iphones and your beards and flowey skirts

    1. The OP*

      Haha — a friend suggested this yesterday! So tempting to see what would happen! :)

      If only I didn’t need to represent my organization professionally…

  21. lowercase holly*

    i’d give her a pass and assume that the scheduling software was unclear except for this: “twice within a few hours of our scheduled appointment.” that is terrible no matter what type of scheduling system unless she had a serious emergency. but twice? twice? doubtful.

    1. Artemesia*

      Three times now and in each case it would have kept another candidate from using that time, so she has no excuse that ‘well the time was open’ — by canceling at the last minute, she has sucked up two time slots.

      I would have cut her lose in a heartbeat if this happened a third time.

  22. JAM*

    We use these a lot in my industry and while my staff who have meetings scheduled with them are very rigid in their schedules, the people scheduling are not. They much prefer drop ins and they tend to have things come up (e.g. I’d love to keep our contract review but I just found out that I can pitch to win $10K if I stay here an extra 30) so I get it and I get to deal with the headaches.

    My welcome page I’ve set up for my staff specifically has an intro where I explain that meeting times selected are fairly firm and that any cancellations should be done via phone, otherwise I’ll automatically call to verify the issue. This works well- sometimes they are stuck by public transportation and think we can’t offer a 15 minute window since the technology has no option for a way to notify “I’m running late!” While an interviewee should not be having these problems, having the welcome greeting on the page include that information helps people value our time more.

  23. Nobody*

    This is totally rude and inconsiderate, but I, like many other commenters, suspect that it’s unintentional and for whatever reason, she probably doesn’t realize how rude she’s being. It’s a pretty big strike against her, but not quite an automatic reason to reject her. Assuming you can actually get her to nail down a time to talk, what’s the harm in interviewing her anyway? You had some reason to think she was worth interviewing. If she’s outstandingly talented, experienced, and qualified, and provides a reasonable explanation/apology when you ask about the multiple reschedules, could you forgive her?

    I really hate to see people being too quick to jump to conclusions based on one “red flag.” It is quite possible that if you look into the situation more, you will find that the red flag really is indicative of more serious problems, but it’s also possible that what you thought was a red flag was just a fluke or misunderstanding or someone having a bad day. If you don’t bother to find out, you could be missing out.

    1. AE*

      Unless I was scheduling for the same day, I wouldn’t think I was being rude to change the time to one that was better for me. Nobody knows how these things would look on the other end.

    2. afiendishthingy*

      “I really hate to see people being too quick to jump to conclusions based on one “red flag.” It is quite possible that if you look into the situation more, you will find that the red flag really is indicative of more serious problems, but it’s also possible that what you thought was a red flag was just a fluke or misunderstanding or someone having a bad day. If you don’t bother to find out, you could be missing out.”

      But this is so many red flags at this point. And if OP has other comparable or better candidates who haven’t shown red flags, why bother chasing after this person who can’t get it together enough to commit to an interview?

      1. Nobody*

        What do you mean, “so many red flags”? All I see is one — poor etiquette when using an online calendar to schedule an interview, which may be due to a misunderstanding of the situation. The OP indicates that she is otherwise a good candidate, with a strong resume and cover letter. Maybe the OP will interview her and confirm that she’s rude and/or stupid, at which point she can easily remove the candidate from consideration. Then again, maybe when the OP asks about the multiple reschedules, the candidate will apologize and explain herself, and have a really strong interview. It’s not a huge investment to give her a chance and see how it goes.

    1. Three Thousand*

      When an interviewer says it, pretty much any job candidate can figure out it means “I’m not hiring you.”

        1. Three Thousand*

          I think some people might feel it’s so obvious it almost comes off as abrupt, like they might as well have just said “Smell ya later.” Like Parcae pointed out though, there’s no nice way to tell someone you won’t be hiring them, so you’ll get stuck on a euphemism treadmill if you try to do anything about it.

          1. Recruit-O-Rama*

            I have been a Corporate Recruiter for years and years and it think this all comes down to tone. I can say “best of luck in your job search” and it can come off as sincere or as “smell ya later” depending on the tone of my voice. I long ago stopped writing my own rejection emails as our ATS sends out form rejections, but I used to end my rejection emails with, “I wish you the best of luck in your job search” I (almost) always mean it sincerely.

      1. Ellie H.*

        I think it’s easy to come up w/something just barely more personal (“Thank you again for your time meeting with us and for your interest, we wish you the best of luck with your job search.”

        1. Three Thousand*

          When I was job hunting, I know the level of politeness of a rejection would have made zero difference to how I felt about it; as soon as I heard “best of luck” I would feel the sting of it. Which is not to say interviewers shouldn’t try to be polite, just that it’s not going to make candidates feel much better if they are. (Which of course isn’t the interviewer’s problem anyway.)

    2. AnonyMiss*

      I’m not sure… Granted, I’ve been fortunate never to have had a completely atrocious interview experience, so every time I get a rejection email, the “best of luck” part is the only sentence I take personal. I kind of like to think that my interviewer did like me enough to genuinely wish me luck on the job search, even if the position at that organization wasn’t a mutual fit. This is most likely 99.9% all in my head, but it’s a nice gesture anyway. (Unless of course you want to read it in sarcasm font… Good luck with your job search… you’re gonna need it…)

    3. Parcae*

      I think people hate it *because* it’s such a common and useful way to close a “thanks, but no thanks” response to a job applicant. Think of it from an applicant’s perspective: they’ve been job hunting for weeks/months/years, it’s a horrible, demoralizing process, and a series of complete strangers keeps giving them the same bad news in the exact same words. It’s maddening, and pretty soon they’ve developed a reflexive hatred of the words themselves. Hiring managers could try to think of new words to use, but it’s just a euphemism treadmill. There’s no way to tell someone you don’t want to hire them and make them enjoy it.

        1. jmkenrick*

          I think Parcae is pointing out that it’s frustrating to hear, and that’s understandable…but there’s also really no better alternative. She’s not challenging the use of the phrase.

          1. Parcae*

            Yes, exactly. I don’t object to any standard job seeking brush-off unless someone out there is saying “you suck and you should feel bad.” (Possible, but unlikely?) I just think that finding a phrase that everyone will find unobjectionable is a fool’s errand, because even if a phrase were perfect, eventually everyone would start using it, and it would become associated with rejection and despair.

      1. Chriama*

        I agree. I don’t think there’s a nice way to tell someone you’re not interviewing them, but the sentiment comes off as insincere to someone who’s heard it often enough.

    4. AE*

      I have probably said it. If I’ve interviewed someone and didn’t hire them, I probably did see something I liked about them. I just thought someone else would do a better job. I would never wish anyone bad luck!

    5. Luna*

      If I’ve been on a few dates with a guy, and it’s not going anywhere…the text usually ends with “best of luck”. Haha, job searching is just like dating.

  24. Allison*

    I would definitely contact this person directly and ask what’s going on, wouldn’t hurt to at least hear them out before saying “sorry, not interested anymore.”

  25. AE*

    If the scheduler didn’t send an e-mail confirmation would she even know that you were counting on that block of time being used?

    I’d give her the benefit of the doubt…. and a phone call. Without having any explanation from her it’s unfair to assume she’s being rude. If there were blocks of time when you didn’t really want to have a meeting, that’s on you to be more honest with yourself.

    Since you expect a note of explanation, perhaps you should up the calendar to send an e-mail confirmation with a note asking the applicants to call or e-mail if changing the schedule 24 hours before the date/time.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If there were blocks of time when you didn’t really want to have a meeting, that’s on you to be more honest with yourself.

      That’s not the issue. The issue is that the OP is holding that time and not scheduling other things for it.

      Would you call an employer five times to reschedule an interview? People do that once at most, if they have to call )(or email). You would probably find that unacceptable, right? It’s rude for the same reasons here.

  26. Dan*

    Just in general, I’m not a fan of recruiters/HR screening out what are otherwise strong candidates without talking to the HM first. If the person is borderline and also flaky, fine, boot them. But if they’re strong? As an HM, I’d at least want a five minute conversation with you before you remove him from consideration.

    1. HM in Atlanta*

      I don’t necessarily think so. If someone can’t show up for 6 interviews, what is 5 minutes on the phone with the the HM going to change? However are they even going to get this candidate on the phone for those 5 minutes?

    2. TootsNYC*

      But this is flaky.

      So yeah, I want HR to weed out the unprofessional or disorganized people.

      Even if she doesn’t realize she’s being rude–she’s really disorganized. I don’t need that.

    3. Recruit-O-Rama*

      I know what my HM’s are looking for BEFORE I select candidates to screen, that’s part of my job. I screen people out all the time without sending them to the HM to even review, let along talk to, they pay me to do it, even. :)

      1. F.*

        I am also paid to screen out applications, or to put it another way, to select only the best fitting candidates for the position. I am an HR department of one. I absolutely do not have time to even begin to contact every applicant, even by email. And if I do contact you, you had better respond within 24 to 48 hours or I will move on. You can’t believe how many people never call back when I call to schedule an interview.

        1. Recruit-O-Rama*

          I know, right? Im feel like I’m pretty organized and my ATS is awesome, so even though I get hundreds of applications every week, no one sits for more than 3 or 4 days with a rejection email or a phone call. I can’t believe the number of people who never respond. After 15 years of recruiting, it STILL surprises me. The ops people at my company are pleased as punch to not have to do that part of it themselves. All they get are qualified, screened interviews. They love it.

    4. OfficePrincess*

      If I could have HR screen out all the incomprehensible resumes, people who can’t seem to make it to an interview on time, and anyone who is rude during the initial contact I would pass that over in a heartbeat. The “best” candidate in the world doesn’t do me any good if they can’t show up reliably.

  27. Biff*

    I’m another person chiming in to say that I bet this is an issue with your scheduling software, not the candidate. I work in tech and the other day I was presented with a UI that I simply could NOT grok. I’m not technologically illiterate, it was just designed by someone who had assumed it would be used on a mobile platform, and I was using it on a computer. I bet the problem you have here is the reverse — the program assumes a computer user and she is using her phone. It could be that on a mobile device, it appears that she has to reschedule when she gets the reminder.

    I strongly advise you to reach out and talk to her over the phone. I’d be very neutral about it. “I’ve noticed that you’ve rescheduled several times. We’re piloting some new scheduling software and I’m concerned it might be causing you some difficulties or that it might have given you the wrong idea about our interview process.”

    1. F.*

      I would believe this if multiple people were having this problem, but the OP seems to indicate that it is just this one person.

  28. AcidMeFlux*

    MOTHER OF MURPHY…..between the dweebus who forged the MD’s note and this nonsense, I just can’t wait for the open work-related thread tomorrow (it will be Friday,right??) A whole lotta fathead goin’ on here.

  29. Cristina*

    The bigger concern to me with this situation is that it sounds like the candidate isn’t very interested in the job. Whether or not she understands the nuances behind scheduling software, if she really wants to work at this company, she would try to interview there sooner, not later. So her pushing it out would indicate to me that she has other options and that the job isn’t at the top of the list. Just like with online restaurant reservations, if you’re canceling presumably something better (or more important) has come up. I suspect people don’t repeatedly cancel on the French Laundry.

    1. afiendishthingy*

      Right? If someone asked me out on a date, then rescheduled six times, they’re clearly not that into me.

    2. Chriama*

      I could imagine someone with anxiety issues doing that. Still on them to behave professionaly, but if they think no one sees what they’re doing then they could be psyching themselves out and saying ‘tomorrow will be better so I’ll go then’.

  30. Chriama*

    OP I have to say, I think if you have a lot of great candidates then there’s no point in meeting with this one. The multiple rescheduling is indicative of *something* (anxiety, immaturity, thoughtlessness) and you don’t need to take that chance if you don’t have to. If you don’t have a lot of great candidates or her qualifications are outstanding though, I do think that she could still turn out to be a good employee with the right mentoring. If this job wouldn’t be able to provide that coaching for her then don’t risk it. But I still wish you would point out to her how her actions are coming across, so she has this knowledge for the future, especially since you let it go on for so long that she probably doesn’t even realize it’s inappropriate (we take our cues about appropriate behaviour from the way other people respond to us, especially when we don’t have a lot of experience of our own).

  31. silence covered the sky*

    I’m late to the party again, but this was an interesting situation. I feel I’d need to know more about the details before I could make a confident call as to who is “right” and who is “wrong” here, but my feeling is that:

    a) this scheduling system is not well designed and/or well-suited to OP’s needs, and

    b) the candidate is probably not being rude so much as they are playing the scheduling system like a video game. I do not know but I will guess that the candidate is young and has little, if any, experience with office automation systems. And/or their mental model of what is happening on the other end of the calendar system is either highly inaccurate or nonexistent.

    I think it’s perfectly valid for OP to disqualify the candidate because of their inexperience. But I do not think the candidate is being intentionally rude.

    *shrug* I could be wrong. But I really think most of the fault here is with the scheduling system. If you don’t want people canceling 40 minutes before an appointment – then don’t use a system that allows that. I mean: I know you can’t force someone to keep an appointment. But you can certainly build a system that will disallow or discourage the most overt forms of misbehavior.

  32. Min*

    I’m amazed by how many of these comments are putting the onus on the OP to explain to the candidate that there is another human being on the other end of the appointment. This candidate is being incredibly rude and disrespectful of the OP’s time. Why is it the OP’s responsibility to correct that behavior?

    I must admit, I’d be fascinated by this point and I would totally let it play out just to see how many times the candidate cancelled.

    1. LiveAndLetDie*

      This is my view as well! The OP is doing their job and this person is making it exceedingly difficult. It is not the OP’s responsibility to teach the candidate anymore than the “your actions have consequences” lesson that she would hopefully get from having this opportunity rescinded for her cavalier attitude toward the OP’s time.

  33. NoFreebies*

    Normally I’m a hard ass when it comes to poor behavior (whether unintentional or not) but there are plenty of reasons to go forward with the candidate’s phone interview.

    1) The OP let her cancel / reschedule 5 or 6 times without comment, why would the candidate think there was a problem?

    2) If she’s used online booking tools to schedule other appointments, it’s plausible for her to think she can switch to any open time slot. Especially if the system *allows* her do it.

    3) It may be difficult for her to be available with a quiet place to talk for 30 minutes.

    If she thinks the available time slots are open, I can see her intending to keep the appointment but thinking that it’s okay to change it if something else comes up.

    3) YouCanBookMe has 3 paid levels to choose from, the lowest paid level offers “extra rules and controls for your bookings.” Consider upgrading.

    Not sure why I’m feeling generous toward this candidate, maybe because her behavior is so egregious I believe she thinks her rescheduling is invisible and inconsequential.

  34. LiveAndLetDie*

    As someone who does hiring myself, I can understand changing the booking ONE TIME, if something comes up that you cannot avoid — and I would send an explanation with the change if you have the ability (not sure if the software allows it). More than that and you’d better have a damn good reason. If someone is serious about wanting a job they are going to make sure that they get to their scheduled interview on time when it’s booked, not keep shuffling it around like this. I want to know why OP hasn’t told this person they’re out of the running at this point.

  35. Mel in HR*

    I would suggest emailing the candidates after they book a time on the calendar. I’m not a fan of making the process less personal as the whole point is to get to know these candidates and evaluating if they are a good fit. Many times email correspondence has told me a lot about a person’s professionalism (ie- using “txt” lingo, not addressing me properly or at all in the response, horrible grammar/spelling).

  36. Lauren*

    Does your scheduling software allow you to not let people reschedule? Or not let people reschedule within a certain window? Like, if she tries to, she’ll get a notice saying she has to call to reschedule if it’s within 24 hours or something?

    Some people don’t really understand how to use scheduling software like that and truly don’t realize that it’s attached your calendar which is attached to you, a real person who has blocked that time out of your life to meet with them. Perhaps include a note when you send the link out saying “If you need to reschedule within 24 hours, please call me directly at xxx-xxx-xxxx to select reschedule”

  37. amaia*

    I think it’s quite possible that the candidate is either having some problem with anxiety, or is misunderstanding some aspect of the process through severe naivety or technological incompetence.

    They almost certainly should be dropped from consideration at this point, but I think it would be best to politely point out what they did wrong, and offer them a chance to explain themselves if they really, grossly misunderstood something. At least they’ll know for future jobs?

    I’d also like OP to politely ask because I’m curious to hear if there is an explanation. Update?

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