What to do with participant not turning up for scheduled interview, neither replying to messages?

Hello all,

I have been using Calendly to allow participants to book interview at their convenient time. Already three people in same day didn’t turn up, even messaging them through Prolific seems unresponsive. They neither return their submission nor reply.

I always use Prolific platform to contact and remind them of their appointments. It’s an easy interview procedures and requires only audio call. They also give consent beforehand and read all the description before arranging an interview but still seems like some of them do not turn up and it just wastes my time.

Hi Hoss,

I faced the same situation last month. I think it is expected that crowdsourcing participants have a low show-up rate. Mine was good for the first few days, but later the show-up rate was less than 50%.

I was using bonuses to pay participants such that even if they don’t show up, I don’t have to reject their submissions or pay them. The base payment is very low for signing up.

One strategy I thought about is to set the base payment very high and made it clear that we have to reject their submissions if they don’t show up and don’t return the submission. But this strategy might cause other issues.

I hope this is helpful.


Thank you for your response. I must admit that my budget is really limited, but I have already conducted six interviews, which is a positive sign.

Yesterday, just two of the three interviews I had arranged showed up. Today I also had three interviews, but two of them didn’t show up and one changed at the last minute. It’s annoying because I could have given the same time to someone else who would have shown up. This would have saved me time, but I’m not sure why they plan a time and then fail to show.
They have a good number of free days and hours in Calendly to pick from, but nonetheless. I’m hoping to complete the data collection process soon.

I am not sure if the following would be a good solution or not, but it is something we are about to try. Instead of having participants set up appointments, we open the study to just one participant at a time on Prolific. Participants have detailed information in the description about what the study involves and then decide in that moment if they want to join the study or not. If yes, they go into Gorilla (the platform we are using, but you could just as easily do this for free in SurveyMonkey), read the consent form, decide if they want to participate or not. If no, they are asked to return their submission, and if yes, then they click ‘Yes’ and it takes them to the next page, which gives them the zoom link to join the experimenter. So, as soon as the experimenter opens the study on Prolific, they need to be ready on zoom for when the participant joins, but hopefully that is not too long. Then, only when they finish with that participant do they open up another spot.

Although the idea is sound, it will take a while. You should be aware that many of the participants are regular people with jobs and other obligations. When a new survey appears, participants are always excited to see it and click on it right away to enrol in the study. They then spend time reading and filling out other forms. There is a good likelihood that most of them will return the submission because most of them will be at work or otherwise engaged. For them, this takes time. Some people simply start the survey and don’t return until after some time has gone, so it will take time for you. How do I know? Google reddit prolific and you get to read their stories.

What worked for me was that I increased the study spots to 20 because I needed to interview 15 people. I knew that some people would disappoint me and not show up for the interview and it was true, six people didn’t show up for the interview but I still met my goal, as i got 14 of them. After telling the other six to return their submissions, I just added one more participant. I met my quota in this manner.