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I am recruiting for a sales partner sort of role for an early stage venture.

Someone on LinkedIn responded to a job post and after exchanging a couple of messages we set up an appointment. They scheduled the meeting using my Calendly link. Sufficiently in advance of the meeting, I messaged them (on LinkedIn) the company number to call on - either by phone or WhatsApp.

At the designated time, there was nothing. Since I didn't have their number, I didn't/couldn't contact them.

The following morning, they messaged on the same WhatsApp number.

Is this acceptable behavior, or a red flag? Should I confront about why they quietly missed the appointment? If yes, what is the best way/angle to ask about it? Or maybe just write them off quietly?

PS: Based on past experience and the context (early stage startup) use of WhatsApp is perfectly acceptable.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    Dec 10 '21 at 9:52
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I would see that as a negative point. Not the fact they did not show, as there could be any number of good excuses for that, but the point that they did not send an apology through the already established channels.

If they could not get a call to work, then I would have expected a short WhatsApp message a minute or two after failing to call, asking for alternatives.

If they could not get Whatsapp to work, I would have expected a short LinkedIn message explaining that.

Nothing of the sort, from someone you want to hire for their good communication skills with customers is a pretty big black mark on their record. If they cannot properly communicate with their future boss, well, that doesn't look good for any other skills they should bring.

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    @phresnel The whole point of the question is that the person did not cancel. They just didn't show. That in my book requires an apology, because it is rude to waste the other persons time in this way.
    – nvoigt
    Dec 8 '21 at 6:09
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    @phresnel Point taken, but ghosting a scheduled appointment with anyone deserves an apology. The interviewee is not a serf to not be bound by the common standards of social interaction.
    – Yogesch
    Dec 8 '21 at 6:10
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    And to be honest, I apologize when I have to cancel an appointment. That doesn't make me a serf, it makes me a person with good manners. Saying "I'm sorry I have to cancel our appointment" costs me nothing.
    – nvoigt
    Dec 8 '21 at 6:21
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    @Yogesh & nvoigt: Ah yes, missing it without notification requires an apology. And then there is saying sorry and saying sorry - in German (as in English), we have different versions thereof, saying "Ich bitte um Entschulding" ("I beg your pardon") is more serf'y then saying "Es tut mir leid, dass es so kam" ("I am sorry this happened"), the latter being something I'd say, too. I guess we both have points :)
    – phresnel
    Dec 8 '21 at 11:47
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    nvoigt: Also, yes I realize the point of this is that the interviewee did not cancel. I was only addressing the apology, which could have been a notification: "that they did not notify ...". Of course, not notifiying about the cancellation of a scheduled meeting is always really bad manners, as it means time was wasted.
    – phresnel
    Dec 8 '21 at 11:52
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Your decision. Sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes things get missed. And sometimes there are perfectly good reasons. Sometimes there aren’t. The fact that you didn’t get their number is your fault, since you exchanged a couple of messages. And you sent the appointment through LinkedIn, which people might not check all the time, so they may not have been aware of the appointment. It’s not an appointment until it is confirmed.

How many applications are you getting? Can you afford to lose out on the candidate, if they turn out to be a good candidate? I’d take it as a negative, but not more at the moment.

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    Good points. Thanks. The appointment was confirmed because it is they who scheduled it on my calendar. Because I am looking to hire only one person, I can afford to miss one candidate if this should be considered unprofessional behavior If they turn out to be good, I would certainly want them. Even if I had gotten their number I probably wouldn't have called, because this is a sales/business-development kind of role, the candidate has to take initiative on their own.
    – Yogesch
    Dec 7 '21 at 5:48
  • They said they couldn't get through my number (on WhatsApp). Sounds strange, but I think I should be less finicky about this sort of thing (background in finance/consulting makes you a stickler for some things) until I have more evidence of unprofessionalism
    – Yogesch
    Dec 7 '21 at 6:04
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You should wait for them to contact you and see what they volunteer on the matter without prompting.

You should also continue to interview other candidates.

A "Sales Partner" should have good communication skills. That is their whole schtick.

I recommend you get, at the very least, a phone number off potential candidates so you can contact them.

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  • And if they do contact me the next day but say absolutely nothing about missing the appointment, what should I take that to mean?
    – Yogesch
    Dec 7 '21 at 8:13
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    @Yogesch - That they were not checking their LinkedIn messages as often as they should have. The positive assumption would be they checked their messages before your message and after the scheduled meeting,
    – Donald
    Dec 7 '21 at 10:39
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    @Yogesch if they treated you that way, they will treat customers that way. Not having a discussion of missed expectations is a big reason why customers don't buy. I recommend asking why they don't say anything and whether they have done that to any customers. Make your decision based on what they say.
    – David R
    Dec 7 '21 at 15:14
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Is this acceptable behavior, or a red flag? Should I confront about why they quietly missed the appointment? If yes, what is the best way/angle to ask about it? Or maybe just write them off quietly?

No, I would just continue on looking for others.

They might had valid reasons to not come but I feel it is on them to inform you of it. And whatever those reasons may be is entirely up to you. If they had a family emergency, for example, like a illness or death, I would totally understand if they didn't come to an interview. But this is assuming they contact you after some time frame like a week or two starting off that they missed the appointment and had a sudden family emergency and wish to re-connect if the job is still on the table.

However, for any other reason, even if they didn't have transportation, I feel is a red flag. If they knew they are having an interview that day, and they know they can't get there for whatever reason, they should have at least informed you perhaps 1 or 2 hours before the time. Since they didn't, I feel that isn't right.

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  • Yes, this makes sense. It wasn't even an in-person interview. I think this reflects either unprofessionalism, or they don't take the application seriously and are just clicking wherever they see an apply button, or think too highly of themselves.
    – Yogesch
    Dec 7 '21 at 18:23
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TL:DR. Don't hire them, but do tell them that they lost the job because of their failure to show up to, or reorganise, the interview.

There are only a few reasons for and against hiring this person -

For hiring - They have skills, experience or contacts that are hard to find. You haven't mentioned this, so I doubt this is the case.

For hiring - You want to take a chance in someone, for example if it is a low paying or high risk role for a good candidate, or you want to mentor someone/train them from scratch.

Against hiring - Poorly managed expectations is bad business. You expected them to be there and they allowed that expectation to fail. This is the essence of professionalism - having clear standards and expectations that are met.

My reason- Feintly committed employees can be a very big drag on an organisation, especially if it is a young or small organisation. It's very easy to want to help potentially good employees who have a hard background (ie a potentially excellent reason for missing the interview like family troubles, health, poverty etc). I know that I've been troubled by this on the past - wanting to help. A hard background doesn't at all mean the employee will be bad. But, if that hard background isn't handled eg communicating changing times or expectations, then you will find it continues to affect your organisation. If they really wanted the role OR were capable, then they would have contacted you before or during the internode time, or tried the WhatsApp link beforehand, or communicated any potential issues beforehand. If you were a very big organisation hiring many people in lower skill roles then you might have to change this attitude, but you aren't.

Telling them why is professional on your part - clearly communicating the expectation. If they understand this expectation then they shouldn't be surprised by the reason. If they didn't understand this expectation then you'll be helping their future.

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