How to Cancel a Job Interview
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- Give as much notice as possible when you need to cancel an interview.
- Be honest about why you're canceling, such as receiving another offer or having an emergency.
- Be polite in your phone call or email so as not to burn bridges.
When it comes to job searching, the initial goal is to get an interview. While you may go into this process with the best of intentions, sometimes things change. According to Career Sidekick, only 2-4 applicants are invited to an interview. When you are in this top tier of candidates, you want to take care when canceling an interview.
Preparing for an interview takes time both on your part and on the part of the interviewer. According to USA Today, 20-50% of scheduled interviews are no-shows. Your potential employer is taking the time to interview you and have their team members speak with you, so it is important to be respectful of everyone's time. If you have decided not to attend an interview, let them know as soon as possible.
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Reasons to Cancel a Job Interview
You Receive Another Job Offer.
When you're job hunting, you may submit many applications. There's a possibility you'll receive an offer before completing all of your scheduled interviews. If you receive a job offer you're more interested in, it's okay to cancel the remaining interviews.
You Realize the Job Is Not the Right Fit.
While preparing for your job interview, you may realize that the job you're interviewing for isn't a great fit for you. It could be that you learned more about the company or dug into the requirements further. Whatever the reason, if you don't think it's for you and you're confident you wouldn't accept the job, consider canceling the interview to save everyone time. If you're unsure, consider attending your scheduled interview to learn more. You can always withdraw yourself after the interview.
You Are Sick.
If you are sick when you're supposed to interview, you may want to cancel or try to reschedule. You don't want to risk passing germs onto your potential employer, and if your interview is virtual, you may not be at your best while you're not feeling well.
You Have an Emergency, You Can't Get There, or the Weather Is Bad.
Things happen sometimes. If you have an emergency, you can cancel your interview. Unexpected things like a family emergency, a malfunctioning car, or your childcare falling through are understandable reasons. In these cases, let the employer know that you can't make it and would like to reschedule.
If you decide to cancel an interview for one of the reasons above, the most important thing is to give as much notice as possible. Canceling at the last minute is not a good practice unless circumstances are out of your control. You can ask about rescheduling if you are still interested in the job.
For reasons such as an emergency or illness, the hiring manager or recruiter may be more understanding. If the interview is at the last minute and you don't feel prepared, you can also try to move it.
How to Cancel an Interview by Email
If you cancel an interview outright without rescheduling, an email is an appropriate way to do this. Emails are also acceptable if you can give over 24 hours' notice that you're canceling. If you call and they don't answer, you should follow up with an email.
In your email, thank them for the opportunity to interview, apologize for the inconvenience, tell them why you need to cancel, and offer days to reschedule if you are interested. If you don't want to reschedule, be clear about your intentions of withdrawing your candidacy. Be polite and honest, so you don't burn any bridges. You never know if there will be a future opportunity at the same company.
Example Email (Withdrawing)
Dear [recruiter/hiring manager],
Thank you for considering me for the [role] at [company]. At this time, I'd like to cancel my interview scheduled for [date] and retract my application.
I apologize for the inconvenience. I wish you the best of luck in your search.
Example Email (With Intention to Reschedule)
Dear [recruiter/hiring manager],
Thank you for considering my application for the [role] at [company]. Unfortunately, an emergency has caused me to be unavailable for my scheduled interview on [date].
I apologize for the inconvenience. Is there any availability to reschedule the interview? I'm available on [list 2-3 dates]. If possible, I'd still like to be considered for the [role].
I look forward to hearing back from you.
How to Cancel an Interview Over the Phone
If you can, calling is a better way to cancel in most cases instead of email. Calling will make you look more professional if you want to reschedule. If you need to cancel at the last minute, calling ensures they receive your message. This method is similar to what you put in an email.
When you call, apologize for the inconvenience, give them new days you're available for a reschedule (if applicable), and tell them why you're canceling. They will appreciate your honesty. Talking directly to your interviewer is best, but if you can't do that, leave a message and send a follow-up email.
When leaving a voice message, include your name, what you applied for, when the job interview was, and the reason you cannot attend. Be sure to provide a callback number for them to let you know they got your message.
Example Voice Message (Withdraw)
Hi. My name is [name]. I'm calling in regards to the [role] at [company]. I'm unfortunately unable to make my scheduled interview for [date and time] and would like to withdraw my application at this time. I apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you for your time.
Example Voice Message (With Intention to Reschedule)
Hi. My name is [name]. I'm calling in regards to the [role] at [company]. I have an interview scheduled for [date and time], and I'm unable to make it due to an emergency. I'm still interested in the position and would like to reschedule if at all possible. My phone number is [phone number]. Thank you.
What to Do When an Emergency Causes You to Cancel
If you are unable to give as much notice of canceling because you have an emergency, there are certain things that you can do.
- Reach out to your contact via phone and email as soon as possible, even if it's right before your scheduled interview.
- Withdraw your candidacy if your emergency affects the possibility of working for them.
- Let the company know if your emergency is a single incident and if you'd still like to be considered for the role. They may agree to reschedule if you are honest and apologize. Things can happen, and they're human, too.
Frequently Asked Questions About Canceling Job Interviews
Is it unprofessional to cancel an interview?
No. It is not unprofessional to cancel an interview. When you're considering canceling an interview, you may be worried about how it will look. You don't want to be seen as unprofessional and risk burning a bridge. But people need to cancel interviews for various reasons.
Sometimes things come up, and you need to cancel. Everyone has unpredictable circumstances, and people are understanding. Just be sure to inform them ahead of time whenever possible instead of being a no-show. Not showing up to an interview may demonstrate that you don't care or are not being considerate of someone else's time.
How do you decline an interview without burning bridges?
Even if you have decided to cancel an interview, it doesn't mean you want to ruin your chances of ever working for that particular company. You don't know when things might change. If you want them to be open-minded in the future, there are certain things to keep in mind.
The most important thing about declining an interview is reaching out to the right person to cancel or decline with enough time to do so. Scheduling an interview and then not showing up is the worst thing you can do. People will remember that you no-showed and may not give you another chance.
Should I interview for a job I don't want?
The answer to this one depends on a few factors. There are two ways that you can look at this. On the one hand, you don't want to waste anyone's time if you have confidently decided that a certain job isn't right for you. On the other hand, it's good practice, and the more you interview, the easier it may be to overcome interview anxiety.
It may also benefit you to interview in case you're not sure about the position or if the company has another opening that might be a better fit. If you don't go, you could miss out on other potential opportunities. Still engage with the interviewer and ask questions if this is the case.