How to Cancel or Reschedule an Interview
When you are applying for jobs, the ideal outcome is to be invited for interviews with the companies you have applied for.
However, life happens. Sometimes things can crop up unexpectedly and situations can occur that are out of your control, so attending an interview is no longer possible.
It could be that a family emergency has occurred or a situation has developed elsewhere in your life unexpectedly.
When these things happen, it is important to know how to cancel or reschedule your interview properly.
A well-worded, respectful approach can mean the difference between burnt bridges and a door that is left open for future conversations.
Reasons You Might Need to Cancel an Interview
Wherever possible, it will be better to try to reschedule rather than cancelling. But, sometimes things will happen that mean that you have no choice but to cancel your interview. Situations where it may be best to cancel the interview include:
- Discovering something about the company that doesn’t align with your beliefs, principles or ethical standpoint
- Another job you applied for has made you an offer that you want to accept
- Personal emergencies, such as ill health, childcare issues or car trouble
- An obligation at your current workplace that you are unable to change
- You have simply changed your mind about the job
Why Is It Important to Cancel Politely?
There is an old saying: manners cost nothing. Although this is generally good advice for life, it’s truer than ever when it comes to working relationships.
When cancelling an interview, it is vital to be polite about it. This is not only because it is good manners. An important reason to cancel your interview politely is so that you leave the door open with that employer.
It is crucial to remember that things can change, and nobody knows what the future will hold. There may come a time later on when you would like to apply for another position or may have to work with them in a professional capacity.
Being rude when cancelling your job interview can have an impact on future relationships and may affect whether or not you would be offered an interview down the line.
Cancelling Vs Rescheduling
Cancelling an interview is not the only option. If you really want a job that you have applied for but are unable to attend because of an appointment, ill health or other obligation, then the best option may actually be to reschedule.
Rescheduling leaves the option open for an alternative interview. Many companies will understand the need to reschedule, as long as you are honest and give them enough warning of the issue.
It is always best to notify them as soon as possible. This shows the employer that you value their time.
Why You Might Want to Consider Going Anyway
Before cancelling your interview, make sure that you are 100% sure you don’t want to attend.
If possible, it is always best to go to the interview. This helps to avoid any accidental negative impressions you may give the company when cancelling or rescheduling, especially if the decision to cancel has been made at the last minute.
Even if you aren’t sure that you really want the job, an interview is always a good learning experience and an opportunity to see how different companies approach the recruitment process.
You will have the chance to meet and network with others within the company and this can be helpful in the future, whether you go on to accept the job or not.
If you attend the interview and later decide that you don’t really want the position, you can always turn down the job offer.
How to Cancel or Rearrange an Interview – Steps
Once you have decided to cancel or reschedule your interview, the next question is how to do it.
Knowing the best approach to use can be challenging. It can be a tough decision between wanting to keep things formal and not wanting to come across as being cold.
Where possible, you should always try to speak to the company over the phone rather than via email. However, sometimes it is better to send an email, especially if this has been the most common method of communication for yourself and the interviewer.
There is no set order regarding how to do things and each situation will be unique. These tips may help to guide your process.
It is vitally important that you let the interviewer know as soon as possible that you will be unable to attend the interview – especially if you want to reschedule rather than cancel.
By giving them as much notice as you can, it shows you value their time. They will appreciate your consideration and it is more likely to leave a good impression.
If you need to cancel an interview at very short notice (less than 48 hours), then it is usually a good idea to phone first before following up with an email. It means your message isn’t going to be missed.
By following up the call with an email, you are also ensuring that there is written confirmation of your desire to cancel or reschedule.
You should never cancel or attempt to rearrange an interview via text. This is very unprofessional and is unlikely to be well-received by the employer.
Is There an Alternative?
Do you have another option rather than cancelling? Cancelling an interview should really be a last resort, especially if it is a job you are particularly keen to have or want to reschedule for another time. Make sure that you have tried every possibility before cancelling.
For example, if you find your car is suddenly unusable, consider whether it is possible to ask a friend for a lift or use public transport.
Use a Relevant Email Subject Line
Keeping the subject line relevant will mean that whoever picks up your email will instantly know what it is about and whether or not it needs to be forwarded to someone else. This means there is no risk of it being labelled as spam or deleted by accident.
An ideal subject line would include your name, the date of your appointment and the word ‘interview’.
Keep It Formal
This is a formal letter, so it is important to remember to use appropriate language and tone. Remember that the way you communicate with the company will influence any conclusions they make about you.
Being too casual or using slang would be inappropriate for a professional setting.
You should always approach this task as if you were writing to your current employer or another person whom you respect.
Keep It Short
Employers don’t want to read through endless emails that repeat themselves or don’t make sense. Long emails are likely to be quickly skimmed in order to spot the key points before moving on to the next email or task.
Keeping your correspondence short and concise also ensures that your meaning is unlikely to be misunderstood.
When an employer sees your email, they want to understand the point within the first few lines before deciding on a response. Keep it short, sweet and to the point.
Remember to Thank Them for the Offer of an Interview
It is important to acknowledge the company for taking the time to read your application and offer you an interview.
Whether you are hoping to reschedule or not, being polite and respectful will leave a good impression and can be beneficial in the future.
Give a Reason Why You Are Unable to Attend
You are under no obligation to explain why you want to cancel an interview, but it may help to be honest if you have taken a job elsewhere and are no longer available for work. You don’t have to give detailed information, but companies will sometimes appreciate your honesty.
As always, if you choose to give a reason, remember to be respectful in the way that you approach the subject. If your reason for cancelling an interview is due to personal issues with the company, then it may be best not to say anything.
If You Wish to Reschedule, Ask for an Alternative Date/Time
Asking for an alternative date or time shows the employer that you are still serious about wanting to work for the company.
You could even go one step further and share your availability with them if certain days or times are particularly good for you.
Repeat Your Thanks and Respectfully Sign Off
The end of your email should reflect the beginning in tone and content. By repeating your thanks and signing off appropriately, it leaves the employer with a positive impression of you and underlines the idea that you appreciate the opportunity.
Follow Up With a Call if Necessary
If you have cancelled your interview via email and don’t receive a response, then it may be a good idea to follow up with a phone call a few days later. This allows you to confirm your message was received and that the company will no longer be expecting you.
It is also a good idea to perform a follow up call if you have asked to reschedule the interview. If you haven’t received an email that offers an alternative date, then a phone call can show an employer that you really are keen to work for the company.
It is especially important to follow up on your email if you are cancelling or rescheduling at short notice. It is possible that a last-minute email will be missed, so you want to make sure that the employer isn’t waiting for you unnecessarily.
Reschedule an Interview
Subject: (Your Name) – Rescheduled Interview (date and time)
Dear (Name of individual you have been speaking to),
Thank you for taking the time to read my application and offer me an interview. I have been very much looking forward to attending my interview for (position interviewing for) with (company name) on (date and time).
I am writing to inform you that I am now going to be unable to attend my interview on (date and time of interview) due to an unexpected work commitment/family emergency/an unexpected personal issue.
If possible, I would really appreciate the opportunity to reschedule our interview. I am available for the following dates and I hope that one of them might be suitable for you.
(List your availability)
I apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused and hope that we are able to find a suitable alternative. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Cancel an Interview
Subject: (Your Name) – Interview Cancellation (date and time)
Dear (Name of individual you have been speaking to),
Thank you for contacting me and offering an interview for the position of (job title) on (date and time). I really appreciate you taking the time to read my resume and invite me along.
I am writing to inform you that I have now accepted another position and am unable to attend this interview.
I wished to inform you that my circumstances have now changed and I am no longer available for this role.
I apologize for any inconvenience caused and wish (company name) the very best going forward.
Cancelling an interview is never ideal, but unfortunately it is sometimes necessary.
Whatever your reasons for cancelling or rescheduling, it is important to remember that it doesn’t have to be the end of your relationship with a company.
Taking the right steps to ensure that your cancellation is done politely and respectfully can leave the door open for future applications and business relationships.