Job interview “ghosting” on the rise at some local businesses

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Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 9:13 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Heather Taylor owns Taylor’s Pantry, a convenience and liquor store with gas pumps at the busy intersection of 41st and Minnesota.

She spends money to advertise job openings.

Twenty-two people recently applied for one. Twelve set up appointments to meet the owner. None of them showed up. It left her furious.

This “interview ghosting” has become a troubling trend for at least several local businesses that are already having a difficult enough time finding help in a state with a 2.3 percent unemployment rate.

“It’s a time suck,” Taylor said. “It’s an absolute time waster. You spend all of this time and you’re hopeful as an employer that you finally found someone that is the right fit with your team and then you don’t ever get a chance to talk to them.”

In one case, Taylor said she spent about 80 minutes talking to an applicant online and finding a time they could agree on “that was easier on their schedule and not so much on mine.”

That was one of the dozen no-shows. In her 30 years in the convenience store business and 23 years she’s owned her own, “I”ve never seen such a situation where we have so little unemployment in our city, yet we’ve had not enough staff for businesses.

“I’ve talked to a person who is a doctor. It’s in the medical field. It’s in the convenience store field. It’s in the grocery store field. It’s in every walk of life in our area right now. No one can find enough staff. It’s a problem that somehow we need to combat.”

Taylor took her frustrations to her personal Facebook account and found that she wasn’t alone. Several fellow local business owners responded that they are experiencing the same problem.

She doesn’t know why people don’t show. Maybe they landed another job or lost interest in the one at Taylor’s Panty.

But Taylor wonders if some are receiving unemployment checks and are setting up interviews without ever intending to take the job.

In South Dakota, those receiving “reemployment assistance” fill out an online application to receive their weekly checks from the Department of Labor. They have to show that they are actively searching for jobs and write in two businesses they set up interviews with. But they do not have to prove they actually conducted the interview.

It wasn’t until Taylor brought her concerns to Better Business Bureau of South Dakota vice president Jessie Schmidt that she discovered that something could be done about those potentially cheating the system.

”The Department of Labor does have an opportunity for businesses to communicate to them about individuals that do not make these meetings and no-show,” Schmidt said.

Owners can fill out a “Reporting No Shows or Refusal of Work/Interviews” form from the state labor department’s “reemployment assistance division.” >>

The DOL confirmed this to Dakota News Now in an email:

Individuals receiving unemployment benefits who do not show up for an interview are subject to lose those benefits. If a business suspects an applicant has not made a good faith effort, the business should report it to our Reemployment Assistance Division via the form on our website to investigate.

Fraudulent activity will lead to an inability to receive future reemployment assistance benefits until all fraudulent claims and fines have been repaid. Individuals are responsible for paying back benefits deemed as overpayments due to ineligibility.

That threat could help alleviate the time and money wasted spent on struggling to find employers.

She is fed up. She knows other owners who are fed up. And now, “the gloves are off.”

“No harm, no foul if I send your name to the Department of Labor under this division,” Taylor said. “If you are receiving benefits, and you’re in violation of why you’re receiving benefits, I’m going to submit your name, because we all have to pay for unemployment.

“I pay for that, you pay for that, we all pay for it. We all pay for it.”

Taylor said she has raised wages to be competitive in her field, and with unemployment checks. But if she remains understaffed, she’ll have to adjust her employment schedule.

Since the pandemic started, she knows of plenty of businesses that have had to cut store hours or even close permanently because they couldn’t keep up with staffing.

That ultimately doesn’t just hurt the business, the owners, and the employees. It hurts us all, Schmidt said.

”We all want people working when we go to the restaurant or the fast food place or the convenience store,” Schmidt said. “We don’t want them to limit their hours based on the staffing that they have.”

The message in all this?

”Just don’t waste our time,” Taylor said. “We’re looking for employees that we can dedicate time and energy and money towards.

“I want to create an environment that employees enjoy and they get paid well and they’re part of our team. That’s how all of us employers keep own doors open, and that’s how we all provide services to our customers. If we don’t have employees in order to keep our doors open, what are we all going to do?”

Schmidt said no matter why someone dodges an interview they set up, they should operate with basic human decency and common courtesy.

”If the shoe was on the other foot,” Schmidt said, “and you had an interview lined up, and the employer when you got there said, ‘yeah, sorry, I hired for that position already,’ you know, it’d be equally frustrating on your part.”

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