How To Cancel an Interview Professionally

When you have to cancel a job interview for any reason, there's a professional way to do so. This guide will explain how to cancel an interview properly.

You feel a surge of excitement when you finally land that job interview. You study interview tips and count down the days until you can showcase your talents.

Then life throws a wrench into your plan. You have a conflict because your child is sick or your car broke down. Whatever the reason, you wonder how to cancel an interview without losing your opportunity for employment.

Cancel as soon as possible. Do not wait until the last minute. The interviewer’s time is valuable, and you want to stay on good terms so you can reschedule the interview or apply for a different position in the future.

As many as 90% of job candidates do not show up for their job interview. Businesses report only 10% of applicants return calls or emails to arrange an interview.

Employers find hiring frustrating, so it is imperative you cancel your interview in a professional manner. There is a difference between saying “I can’t come” and professionally canceling an interview.

We are going to share some steps for rescheduling and canceling job interviews that keep your professional reputation intact.

Is Canceling a Job Interview Unprofessional?

When wondering how to cancel a job interview, you may be wondering if canceling at all is considered unprofessional.

If you schedule a job interview and then later cancel, it doesn’t look good. However, when you decide you don’t want the position, not wasting an interviewer’s time shows consideration. Before taking this step, make sure you really want to decline.

Employers experience a high number of potential employees not showing up for interviews. Evaluate your reason for canceling. If you want the job the best course of action is to find a way to attend the interview if possible.

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If questioning whether the position is a good fit for you, use the interview to gain insight into the company. You may be surprised to find it is a perfect fit.

The interview gives you an opportunity to showcase yourself and present your resume. Even if you don’t accept the position, professionals do a lot of networking. Your resume may get handed to another company that fits your needs perfectly.

If you cancel because you no longer desire the position, be courteous and let the interviewer know you are both canceling the interview and withdrawing your application. If you need to reschedule, give them as much notice as possible.

To handle either scenario, you need to decide if it is best to handle notice through a phone call, an email, or both.

What if I Wake up Sick on Interview Day?

It used to be a diligent worker or applicant trudged on through, showing up for interviews and work even when sick. Because of COVID-19, those unspoken rules no longer apply.

If you wake up with body aches, fatigue, a headache, or congestion, you are sick and no one wants to risk contamination. What do you do about your job interview? This is one time when it looks more professional to cancel at the last minute than show up.

While some hiring managers may wonder whether you will call in sick frequently if you receive the position, the pandemic has changed that thinking for most. In this situation, you need to give notice by telephone because the time frame is likely short.

If your call goes to voicemail, leave a message that includes your name, the date and time of the interview, and the position you are interviewing for. Let them know you are sick and do not want to risk getting them or any of their staff ill. Leave your phone number and request a call to reschedule the appointment.

According to the CDC, if you have the flu you are contagious from one day before showing symptoms up to seven days after. Requesting or being offered an appointment a week later is reasonable.

When you do attend the interview appointment, touch only briefly on your illness. Thank the interviewer for their flexibility by allowing you to reschedule.
Do not expand on the illness. Move on to the interview and focus on impressing them with your professional abilities.

How to Cancel an Interview With Email or Telephone

Even if you never plan to work for the company, professional conduct is a must. Your main goal is to leave a positive impression on the company. You never know when another opportunity might open that grabs your interest.

A good rule of thumb when wondering how to cancel an interview is to use the same manner of communication as when setting up the appointment.

Do not delay, provide the company with notice of your cancellation as soon as possible. The time frame between your notification and the interview is a good way to decide whether to place a telephone call, send an email, or both.

With either method, you do not need to give a detailed explanation about why you are not coming. The person you speak with may ask, so be prepared with a short answer. Something simple like “I’ve found a different opportunity” will suffice.

By handling the cancellation in a friendly and professional manner, you prevent yourself from being black-listed if the interviewer networks with other businesses. News about a rude, inconsiderate candidate will flow faster than Niagara Falls.

Do not make any degrading comments about the company or the position to anyone. You want to leave a positive impression. Even if you believe the business has questionable operations or rude employees, keep your mouth shut.

Remember, you gather more bees with honey, not vinegar. You never know when your actions now may affect your possibilities in the future. Your goal is to build professional relationships every step of the way.

Don’t Be a Ghost

Perhaps the number one rule when thinking about how to cancel an interview is not to ghost.

It is amazing to learn that 41% of job seekers think that “ghosting” a company is reasonable behavior. One out of every ten people believes it appropriate even after they accept a position.

Reasons given include accepting another position or deciding the job isn’t right for them. If you’ve never heard the job candidate term “ghosting”, it means disappearing without an explanation.

You withdraw from all communication or contact without justification. This behavior is extremely unprofessional and often happens with potential employees.

Never assume a company will not remember your behavior if you apply for a different position months or years later. Computer records may pull up your name in a matter of seconds. They will have notes on record if you treated them badly in the past.

Let’s take a look at how to cancel an interview with some sample email, telephone, and voicemail messages that leave a positive, professional impression with the company.

How to Cancel an Interview: Sample Email 

Subject: Your Name—Cancel Interview

Dear Mr./Ms. [interviewer’s name],

Thank you for scheduling an interview with me for the position of XYZ at your company. I appreciate your consideration but need to cancel our appointment scheduled for Wednesday, April 13, 2022, at 9:15 am. I will not be available to attend the interview and am withdrawing my application for employment. I apologize for any inconvenience this cancellation causes and thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards,

Your Name

Further Reading

How to send a Thank You email
Impostor Syndrome and the Job Interview
11 Classic Interview Mistakes
How to Prepare for an Interview

Sample Email Confirming Telephone Cancellation

Subject: You Name—Confirmation of Telephone Interview Cancellation

Dear Mr./Ms. [interviewer’s Name],

Confirming the message I left on your voicemail, I am canceling my interview scheduled for Wednesday, April 13, 2022, at 9:15 am.

I appreciate your consideration for the position of XYZ. I have decided on a different career path and am withdrawing my application.

I apologize for any inconvenience this causes and thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards,

Your Name

Note: Even though you left a voicemail, the time you take to go one step further and leave a confirming email leaves a lasting image of professionalism in the interviewer’s mind.

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Sample Email for Rescheduling an Interview

Subject: Your Name—Interview Reschedule Request

Dear Mr./Ms. [interviewer’s name],

If possible, I would like to reschedule the interview for the position of office manager currently set for Tuesday, April 12, 2022, at 8:00 am. Unfortunately, an immovable conflict has arisen at that time, but I am still very interested in the position and greatly looking forward to speaking with you.

I am available for an interview any time that day after 1:00 pm. I am also available all day on Wednesday or Thursday of that same week.

Thank you very much for your consideration. I look forward to your response by email, or you may reach me by phone at XXX-XXX-XXXX.

Thank you,

Your Name

Note: It is imperative you attend the rescheduled interview if granted the opportunity. Some employers will not reschedule and assume that those truly interested in a position will do whatever is necessary to show up for the interview. If you try to reschedule a second time you will likely miss the job opportunity forever.

How to Cancel an Interview: Phone Script 

You: Hello Mr./Ms. [interviewer’s name]. This is [Your Name] and we have an interview scheduled on Monday, April 11th at 3:00 pm for the sales manager position. I need to cancel that interview, if possible.

Interviewer: I’m sorry to hear that. Is there a particular reason?

You: I have accepted another position, but I am very grateful for your consideration and I hope you find the perfect candidate to fill your role. I would like to remain in contact on LinkedIn if you are open to that possibility.

Interviewer: That sounds good. Thank you for letting us know. I hope your new position works well for you.

You: Thank you very much for the opportunity. Have a wonderful afternoon.

Note: When you cancel a job interview by telephone, always be ready to provide a simple answer to an inquiry about your reason for not interviewing. Just remember to never give an answer that negatively reflects on the company.

Sample Voicemail Script to Reschedule an Interview

Hello Mr./Ms. [interviewer’s name]. This is [your name] and I would like to reschedule the sales manager interview currently set for tomorrow, April 11th at 3:00 pm.

I have had a death in my family and need to leave town for a few days. I can be available on Friday, April 15th, or any day the week of April 18th if that works for you.

I apologize for the inconvenience and for calling on such short notice. Thank you very much for your consideration on this matter.

My phone number is XXX-XXX-XXXX. Please leave a date and time for the interview on my voicemail if I do not answer. I will call to confirm I received your message.

Note: Because so many potential employees do not follow through on interviews, a potential employer may refuse to schedule a second interview. If you have a legitimate reason that is not flexible, sharing that information may help secure a second interview opportunity.

What if the Interviewer Cancels on You?

If you receive notice that the interviewer is canceling the appointment, ask if you can reschedule. It may be the interviewer is sick, the position has been filled, the opening put on hold, etc.

Whatever you do, do not let your voice portray annoyance at the cancellation. If the position you were going to interview for is no longer available, ask if they will keep your name or resume on file for future opportunities.

Regardless of the reason given, it is important to be polite, understanding, and thank them for notifying you of the cancellation. Professionalism is important because you never know when they may change their mind or have another opening.

Join Big Interview

Good interview preparation is about practice. It’s not enough to merely read advice. You have to put it into action. Big Interview’s practice tools simulate live interviews in real-time, making you really good, really fast, guaranteed.
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Learn How to Cancel an Interview and More

If you are having trouble landing job interviews, don’t know how to properly prepare for interview questions, or need support in handling job search correspondence, you’ve come to the right place.

Big Interview offers guidance on a wide range of topics. We can help you learn how to cancel an interview, request a raise, change careers, or build your confidence in our 3-day interview boot camp.

Click here to get started by reviewing our in-depth interview prep guides. Let us help you prepare for your next career move.

Alia Sinclair

Alia Sinclair

Alia Sinclair is the former Head of Content at Big Interview and the Editor-in-Chief of Patchwork Mosaic, an online magazine for creatives. She lives in Seattle with her ever-increasing library of books.

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