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Many people struggle with the process of cancelling a job interview, whether they have decided that they no longer want the job or if they simply want to reschedule their upcoming interview.
The most important thing to note is that cancelling a job interview is OK, yes, it can be a little awkward but there is nothing wrong with changing your mind about the role or asking for an alternate date.

Job seekers have a number of motives and reasons when it comes to withdrawing from the interview process, but they should always be sure that they definitely do not want to the role; there is a chance that those who cancel in the middle of the job application process will find it hard to get another interview at that company.

Some companies will add a note on their follow up email regarding their interview policy, asking you to contact the recruiter if you find that you do need to cancel or reschedule.

 

Before You Cancel

Think About Your Reasons

There is quite a lot to consider before you rush into sending a cancellation email, at the same time your approach will need to be timely as it is always best to ensure that you give advance notice when cancelling your appointment. It gives the hiring manager and recruitment team the opportunity to contact another applicant and get them to fill in for your slot.

You shouldn’t cancel your interview if you do in fact want the job, but you just can’t make it or it is inconvenient timing. A lot of people get cold feet when they secure an interview and have second thoughts about leaving their current role and potentially upsetting their employer, even if they really want the job.

You should also never cancel because of nerves and anxiety over an interview. Everyone feels overwhelmed when they are interviewing, sometimes even the interviewers feel a little anxious, there are a number of techniques, tips and tricks to help you prepare and stay calm in an interview. Don’t cancel an opportunity you really want because you are nervous.

If you are not 100% sure whether or not you want the role, best practice is to go for the interview as a form of research to help you make your decision. It is better to have the option of accepting a post than not attending an interview and then regretting it, dwindling your chances of securing a post at the same company in the future.

Need to Reschedule Interview

Rescheduling is different from cancelling your interview. A lot of job seekers believe that if they cannot make the interview time that they have to cancel the interview, most of the time employers will be happy to work around you and your schedule.

If you wake up feeling under the weather and know you can’t perform at your best give the recruitment team or manager a call and let them know that you are feeling ill. They would also prefer you to call them and reschedule rather than turn up whilst sick.

Most employers will completely understand, after all, feeling sick is completely unavoidable. If you can’t get the time off from your current role you can ask to reschedule, same goes, of you couldn’t get someone to mind your children or if you have an unforeseen emergency.

If you are giving plenty of notice you should email the hiring manager, or whoever contacted you regarding the interview, and ask for a reschedule. In the event that you don’t receive a prompt reply consider giving them a call as a follow up to check they got the email. If you have left it a little later, it is best to ring the recruitment team directly and let them know that you wish to reschedule.

Rescheduling an interview is never ideal but as long as your reasons are valid and you aren’t simply rescheduling so you have more time to prepare, most panels fully understand that some job seekers will need to rearrange their interview times and dates.

Be sure to give a decent amount of notice when you are rescheduling so you don’t burn your bridges before you even make it to the hot seat, this should also be the case if you are running late for valid reasons.

You should always have a date and time in mind when you are rescheduling that you know you are 100% available and will be able to make it. Some employers will not be willing to reschedule, likely due to time constraints but others may question your interest in the position that is just part and parcel of employment and can’t be helped.

 

Reschedule Email Template

Topic: Interview Reschedule Request- (Your Name)

To (Hiring Manager),

I am contacting you with regard to my scheduled interview on the (Date) at (Time) for the position of (Position Title) at (Company Name). Firstly, I would like to thank you for the progression of my application and an invite to meet with you to discuss it further.

I regret to inform you that, due to a family emergency, I will be unable to attend my interview on (Agreed Date). I would like to express how much of a fantastic opportunity this would be for me and my continued interest in this opening.

Would it be possible to reschedule the interview to another date due to my extenuating circumstances? The following dates would work best for me (List of dates).

I apologise for the short notice and hope you can understand my situation.

I will await your reply.

Many Thanks,

(Your Signature)

(Printed name)

Follow Up

If the prospective employer comes back to you to reschedule and offer you an alternate date send them a follow-up email to express your thanks and let them know that you appreciate their understanding.

If you do not receive a prompt email in return you can call but it will be up to the hiring manager’s discretion as to whether you get another opportunity.

 

Reschedule Call Template

Calling to reschedule may work in your favour if you want to ensure that the panel is aware of how keen you are to work for them and that you are being candid with your excuse for not being able to make the agreed date.

Hi (Hiring Manager Name)

My name is (name). We spoke recently regarding my application for the vacant role at your company.

I hope I haven’t caught an inconvenient time. I’m reaching out to you as I am unable to make it to my upcoming interview for the (position title) scheduled for (Day/Date).  (Give them the reason you can’t make it, but not in too much detail)

I sincerely apologise for the inconvenience I am incredibly keen to meet with you and would love to reschedule where possible. (Tell them the days and times you are available, let them know you are open to other offers if they suit better)

No matter the outcome

No matter the outcome, you should thank the hiring manager for their time and consideration. They might get back to you after they have spoken with recruitment or other members of the panel.

Discuss following up with an email of the times when you said you would be available, so they don’t feel pressured into taking it down while on the phone to you.

Potential Consequences

Another consideration before cancelling a job interview is to think about the consequences that could arise. This could factor in a number of things from damage to your reputation if the information that you cancelled gets leaked to other organisations or if your current employer knows you were planning to interview somewhere else.

You might end up with egg on your face if you cancelled an interview for a role you had wanted but for illegitimate reasons like you are nursing a hangover or you want to go and play golf instead.

Your change of heart could be viewed as unreliability in the professional community especially if the industry you work in is quite a small, close-knit community. As aforementioned you should also consider if cancelling will impact the chances of you landing an interview for the same company in the future.

You might also come up against the same hiring manager or HR team again in different roles and different organisations and they might remember that you cancelled the interview.

If in doubt you should interview anyway, instead of wasting anyone’s time but your own. If you end up getting the role you can always turn it down gracefully.

 

Cancelling the Interview

You are Making the Right Decision

People cancel interviews in the job search process for a number of reasons and it’s OK to cancel for a whole host of reasons but make sure you inform the panel. Don’t be a no-show as word might get around the industry that you just didn’t turn up or you’ll get blacklisted.

If you need further validation, you should cancel your interview if:

You know you wouldn’t be happy in the new role because information has been passed back to you regarding company morals and values that do not align with your beliefs.

This can often be the case when people begin researching a company for interview preparation and realise that they have missed a few key points about company background or partner organisations.

You’ve received a better job offer from another interview and you are sure that it is the right career choice for you.

You have maybe applied for this role as a secondary choice or back up and now that you have secured your first choice you need to let the recruitment team know that you no longer need the interview.

Maybe the career move has eventuated at an inconvenient time for your family or your finances and you can’t justify upsetting the balance of your life at the moment.

Making that decision is difficult and sometimes job seekers apply for their dream jobs but know they might need to take a pay cut and then a financial crisis pops up at home. Making the decision to change career really depends on good timing when you have responsibilities.

How to Cancel the Interview

If you have reached the decision that cancelling is the right move for you then you should try to cancel in the most appropriate way and follow professional email etiquette. Your timing will have to be appropriate if you would rather call. Ringing someone to give them news when they are eating their dinner will just peg you as a time waster.

Who to Address?

This is important, you should contact the person who got in touch with you about your interview in the first instance. They may even have sent follow up details after your phone call that noted who to call in the event that you needed to reschedule or cancel.

Make sure you address the correct person, cancelling an interview is a sensitive practice and your email could end up in employment records. You should have taken the time at least to get an employer’s name or have looked at the last email you received out of common courtesy.

By giving a vague salutation like, to whom it may concern, may prove lack of interest and discount your excuse for cancelling or rearranging your appointment. Take care when writing the hiring manager’s name, it would be awkward to sit across from them and answer questions if you have misspelt their given name.

Give Plenty of Notice

The first and most obvious step is to let the interviewer / hiring manager know as soon as professionally possible. Either by cancellation email or over the phone. If you have largely been in contact with the HR team over email then you may not want to bother them by phoning them, as long as you aren’t giving them extremely late notice.

Make sure your email is properly thought out and formatted professionally. Alternatively, you could ring the hiring manager and let them know of your decision to cancel directly, they probably have a number of candidates to interview so make sure you have your interview details at hand so they can take note.

Be Brief

You should keep your conversation brief and friendly but informative, you don’t necessarily have to give a reason, but you can if you like. Sometimes giving a reason might not be the best idea as it will be evaluated as to whether it is a valid enough excuse for cancellation.

Do not launch into a long-winded explanation about why you can’t make it, or the other job offer you have received which is much better than what this position offered and that is why you aren’t coming.

Be Grateful

Interviews are hard to come by in the current climate so make sure you thank the employer and their team for giving you the opportunity to meet with them.

Be Apologetic

Although cancelling or rescheduling may be beyond your control or be what is best for your career path you should still be apologetic. The company has taken the time to read through your application and match your skills with what they are looking for.

The recruitment process takes a lot of time, so even if cancelling was beyond your control the employer still deserves an apology for your application having taken some of their time and consideration.

End on a Good Terms

Make sure you end the interaction on a good note. Interviews are fundamentally occupational deals and most employers share information between each other, particularly if they cannot hire someone who left an impression on them.

They might get in contact with another hiring company to suggest a job seeker so it stands to reason that they would extend the same courtesy if someone stands out for the wrong reasons too.

 

Cancellation Email Template

Topic: Interview Withdrawal (your name and date)

To (Hiring Manager),

I am contacting you to thank you for your interest in my candidacy for the position of (position title) at (business name). I regret to inform you that due to personal reasons I will not be interviewing with your panel as scheduled on (Interview date).

I would like to thank you for considering me for the role and taking the opportunity to progress my application. I am no longer available for this position. (Give reason if preferred).

I would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused, I hope you fill the position with the perfect candidate as soon as possible.

Many Kind Regards,

(Your Signature)

(Printed name)

 

Call Transcript

If you are opting to call, maybe due to time constraints or you prefer the personal touch you should think through what you would like to say so the details are concise and coherent. Calling is a sign of respect and trust, it often shows that you are genuine and that your reasons for cancelling are sound, even if you aren’t willing to share them.

Hi (Prospective Employer Name) 

My name is (Your Name), We spoke recently following my application.

I just wanted to give you a quick call with regard to our upcoming scheduled interview for the (date) for the position of (Position Title). Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances I will be withdrawing my candidacy from this role and will no longer be interviewing with the panel.

(Give a brief description of why you are withdrawing)

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your consideration of my application and apologise for the short notice. I hope you can fill the position as soon as possible.

Thank you for your time!

Goodbye!

 

Cancel an Internal Interview

Cancelling an internal interview is not recommended as it can cause a lot of in house upset. Not only does cancelling upset the hiring manager but word travels fast and it may alert your current team to the fact that you are considering leaving them.

If you have submitted a job application form for an internal role and are having second thoughts, you should withdraw your application as soon as possible or go through with the interview and then weigh up your options.

This is definitely the rare occasion where declining interview opportunities is better than cancelling them after one has been scheduled.

You need to think of your reputation within your company and if you will be marked as unreliable by a fundamental team of people you will see and must work with on a daily basis. You will have to deal with misconceptions about why you cancelled as well.

If you have taken the leap and agreed to an internal interview to then have to cancel you should do so by calling or scheduling a meeting with the hiring manager and explain why you can no longer be a candidate. They will appreciate the face to face and could discreetly retract your application for you.

You should take great consideration when applying for a new internal role as the interview process can differ wildly and your company will have all of your employment background and references on hand so make the application count.

You do not want to look like you are chasing money and applying for every opportunity that will boost your pay packet. The same way you don’t want to have to withdraw your application that could be taken as disloyalty to your current manager and announce that you can’t be counted on to the whole company.

 

Follow the Process

By following the above steps, you can cancel your interview without burning any bridges or wasting time further. You can withdraw professionally without destroying your own reputation within the industry but remember to only cancel for valid reasons.

A future job opportunity at the same company may arise in the future that you might want to apply for, it will still be on their record that you cancelled a previous interview but it might not be held against your application if you withdrew gracefully and professionally.

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Anthony Cornell

Anthony Cornell is a freelance technology journalist. He reviews educational software and writes in-depth online course reviews from popular e-learning platforms. You can reach Anthony at anthony@learnacourseonline.com

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