After polishing your resume, sending your application through the applicant tracking system (ATS), and refreshing your inbox more times than you can count, you’re scheduled for a job interview! But as the big day arrives, something happens that upends your plans, and now you have to figure out how to cancel a job interview without losing the opportunity or burning any bridges.
While canceling a job interview should be a last resort, it does happen. This guide will teach you how to cancel an interview the right way.
When You Should and Shouldn’t Cancel a Job Interview
Sometimes life happens, and you have to cancel your job interview. However, “life happening” isn’t enough of a reason to present to a recruiter or hiring manager. Good reasons to cancel your job interview are:
- You’re sick
- A family member is ill
- You or a family member was in an accident
- A death in the family
- You’ve accepted another job offer
- You’ve been accepted to school (and will attend full-time)
- It’s a second or third interview, and you’re absolutely certain this is not the job for you
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That said, many other things happen in life that may make you want to cancel an interview but aren’t appropriate reasons to do so. Some of those are:
- You’re hungover
- Your friends want to hang out
- It’s a great day to go to the beach
- Concert/movie tickets just came your way
Why You Should Reschedule a Job Interview Instead of Canceling It
While there are acceptable reasons to cancel a job interview and most recruiters and hiring managers will understand, whenever possible, it’s better to reschedule your interview instead of canceling it — unless you plan to decline the job interview entirely.
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Rescheduling demonstrates you’re still interested in the job and doing your best to manage the situation. Canceling the interview could send the message that you’re no longer interested in the job, which may not be the case.
How to Cancel a Job Interview
So, if you find yourself in a situation where you just can’t make it, here’s how to cancel an interview as professionally as possible.
Be Sure You Want to Cancel
First, be 1,000% positive (yes, 1,000!) that you want to cancel the interview. You may not get another chance to interview with the company for this role. Realize that by canceling, there’s a chance you’re closing the door on the opportunity.
Bernadette Pawlik, senior partner at Pawlik/Dorman Custom Search and recruiting insider and career strategist at Coffee & Consult, says that the single best way to handle canceling a job interview is to be professional. “When you treat a recruiter as a professional (even if they aren’t as professional), if you understand that their [reputation] is on the line if you cancel, you have made a bond.”
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While bonding with your recruiter (or hiring manager) might seem unimportant, Pawlik points out that “That bond can become another opportunity [for you] as that recruiter’s career progresses.” Treating the recruiter professionally will help them remember you in a positive light, and when that recruiter has a role that’s a good fit for you, they just might reach out to you before starting a larger candidate search.
When you realize you can’t make the interview date, contact your recruiter or the hiring manager as soon as possible! If nothing else, it gives them time to adjust their schedule, and they might have more flexibility to fit your interview in at a later date.
Apologize for the Inconvenience
They say that time is money, and when you consider the time and money a company spends on recruiting, you don’t want to make it look like you’re wasting either.
Include an apology for canceling your job interview when it makes sense. Acknowledge that it’s an inconvenience and thank them for being understanding and flexible.
Give a Brief Explanation
You’ll want to include a brief explanation of why you’re canceling. Excessive details aren’t necessary, with one exception.
“If you believe an offer from another company is imminent (and by imminent I mean you have a verbal offer and have discussed a starting date), tell the recruiter and ask if they would like to continue or wait until you have an offer,” says Pawlik.
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How to Cancel a Job Interview Examples
You can ask to cancel your job interview one of three ways — by phone, email, or text. However, Pawlik says you may want to consider canceling via all three methods. “Recruiters are constantly on the move and you want to show the respect and understanding of their role by erring on the side of overcommunication.”
No matter what method or methods you choose, here are some example scripts to help you cancel your job interview.
How to Decline a Job Interview When You’re No Longer Interested
Despite all your application efforts, you may decide that this job is not the right one for you. Here’s how to decline a job interview when you’re no longer interested in the role.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview for [name of position]. After some consideration, I’m no longer interested in the role. Good luck in your search, and thanks again!
How to Reschedule an Interview
Of course, canceling an interview should be your last choice. Here’s how to reschedule an interview, instead of canceling it.
Thank you for the opportunity to interview for [name of position]. I’m really excited about the job, but unfortunately, I need to reschedule our interview. I’m so sorry for the inconvenience, but [brief reason here: I’ve come down with a virus and don’t want to expose anyone]. Please let me know what date or dates work for you to reschedule.
Thanks so much,
How to Cancel a Job Interview When You Have Another Offer
Sometimes you need to turn down a job interview because you have another job offer, but you’re not 100% sure you’ll accept the other offer and want to keep your options open.
Thank you for the opportunity to interview for [name of position]. I am excited about the position, but have a verbal offer from another company. Do you want to continue the interview process? I completely understand if you don’t.
How to Cancel a Job Interview When You’ve Accepted Another Offer
Accepting another job offer is a very good reason to cancel a job interview. Here’s how to do it.
Thanks so much for considering me for the [name of position]. However, I’ve already accepted another offer. Good luck in your search!
Get ready for your next interview with these tips and tricks:
- How to Answer: ‘Why Do You Think You Are Qualified for This Position?’
- How to Answer: ‘What Motivates You?’ in a Job Interview
- 15 Questions to Ask the Hiring Manager (and 5 to Skip)
- How to Answer: ‘What Are Your Reasons for Leaving a Job?’
- How to Answer: ‘Tell Me About Yourself’
- Interview Questions, Answered: ‘What Is Your Greatest Strength?’
- How to Answer: ‘Why Are You Applying for This Position?’
- 11 Common Interview Questions for All Careers
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