No-shows at young people’s job interviews are causing headaches for Japanese employers

This file photo, taken in Nara on May 11, 2024, shows a job site on a smartphone screen. Japan has recently seen an increase in no-shows at job interviews. (Mainichi/Kazugi Yamaguchi)

TOKYO — Job seekers in Japan can easily apply for part-time work via smartphones, but at the same time there has been a notable increase in the number of applicants failing to show up for job interviews without notice, causing headaches for employers.

In many cases, applicants move to a job with a better salary just before the job interview, without informing the employer. It is believed that factors unique to Generation Z, such as an emphasis on efficiency and familiarity with social media, are behind this situation. As a countermeasure, job site operators recommend that companies try online job interviews.

The owner of a ramen restaurant in the city of Nara seemed frustrated as they described their search for a new addition. In January, they registered their company on a major job search site to hire a part-time worker, but received few inquiries. They finally got the nod in March, but still couldn’t fill the vacancy. “Three people were supposed to come for interviews, but they all withdrew. And only one of them informed me. The thinking of young people has been derailed,” they said.

“I had heard of no-shows from other entrepreneurs, but I never thought this would happen to me,” she added. The store owner paid about 100,000 yen (about $635) for a three-month job posting, but in the end they couldn’t find anyone. Due to the staff shortage, they have shortened the opening hours and are managing the restaurant alone.

Multiple applications are seen as a remote cause of the problem

Tokyo-based Recruit Co., which operates part-time job search site Town Work, points out that “people can easily search for jobs online, allowing a single job hunter to apply for multiple positions at the same time.” The company believes this could be one of the causes of the problem.

An online survey conducted by the company among 3,000 people shows that approximately 25% of student workers have applied to two or more companies simultaneously and made progress in the selection process. When asked why they later withdrew their applications, many responded, “I chose the first company I applied with because I wanted to find a job quickly,” or “I found a better job.” Analyzing the trend, a Recruit representative said: “Twenty or thirty years ago, when the people hiring now were students, telephone interviews were mainstream. Recruiting has undergone significant structural changes since then.”

Is ‘fear of phone calls’ a reason to withdraw without notice?

But even if withdrawal of an application is unavoidable, why wouldn’t applicants inform the company? Tokyo-based Mynavi Corp., which operates the part-time job site Mynavi Baito, believes conditions unique to young people that have proliferated in the 2020s are at play. In a survey of about 3,000 people, the percentage of respondents who withdrew from interviews without informing companies was 7.1% in 2023, up from 5.1% in 2021 and 5.9% in 2022. When asked why, many people replied: “It became a hassle to go,” “I misunderstood the place and time,” and “I’m afraid to refuse by phone.”

A Mynavi representative noted, “The number of young people who have become too accustomed to text-based exchanges on social media and lack experience with important phone calls is increasing. As a result, they do not know how to decline.” offers, which causes them to refrain from contact.”

However, Mynavi noted that “people who withdraw without notice are generally in the minority, and most young people still adhere to social norms.” She therefore believes that there has not been a clear decline in morale, but expressed concern that there could be an increase in the number of no-call no-shows among applicants in the future. This has been attributed to broader ‘social structural changes’, which can be seen in the increasing number of parents notifying companies about the withdrawal of their children’s job offers and in people’s use of services to keep their employers informed. to inform them of their dismissal.

Services are also emerging to tackle no-shows

In response, job board operators are launching services to reduce interview no-shows and recommending their adoption. Tokyo-based Dip Corp., which operates part-time job site Baitoru, has introduced a digital transformation service that automates everything from receiving job applications to scheduling interviews on behalf of hiring managers.

A restaurant in the Tokyo metropolitan area that introduced such a system about two years ago rated it positively. “By asking questions like ‘Can you work three or more days a week?’ In advance we were able to ensure that only people who meet the conditions sign up, which improves the efficiency of the interviews. When we responded by telephone, there were many cases of people not coming to interviews, but now it has decreased significantly,” said the restaurant representative.

Mynavi, meanwhile, recommends the use of online interviews to “prevent young candidates who prioritize efficiency from seeing the interview process as a hassle and therefore withdrawing.” Online interviews can also eliminate the struggle to find interview locations. Mynavi also recommends allowing withdrawal notifications via text message, saying: “Text communication lowers the barrier to contact, which can reduce the number of ‘contactless’ withdrawals.”

(Japanese original by Kazugi Yamaguchi, Nara Bureau)