When you have an appointment for a job interview, and you can't make it, what should you do?
Sometimes life happens—a child or other family member may become ill, you may have a suddenly conflicting work obligation at your current job, your Internet may not be working, or your car might have decided to break down the morning of the interview. With other interviews, you may have simply decided that this isn't the best job for you.
The answer depends on whether you have decided you don't want the job after all and want to cancel completely, or if you want to simply reschedule for a more convenient date and time.
How to Cancel a Job Interview
Regardless of the circumstances, it’s important to let the employer know as soon as possible that you’re not going to be able to make it to your interview appointment. If at all possible, don’t wait until the last minute. Let the employer know as soon as you're aware you can't make it.
The interviewer’s time is valuable, and another applicant can be scheduled in the time slot you’re giving up. You also want to stay on good terms with the employer in case you want to reschedule or if another job opens up with the company that’s a better fit for you.
When You Don’t Want to Reschedule
If you have decided that you're truly not interested in the position after all, and you don't want to go to the interview, it is common courtesy to let the interviewer know that you have withdrawn your candidacy for the position.
Be Sure You Want to Decline the Interview
Think carefully, though, about your reasons for declining the interview—if you aren’t 100% sure whether or not you’d want the job, it’s generally better to attend the interview as a “fact-finding” mission. The only thing you have to lose is some time.
Call or Email the Hiring Manager
Should you decide that there’s no way you’d want the job (or if you’ve decided to accept another job offer), call or email the person who scheduled the interview to let them know that you are not going to attend the interview. Provide as much notice as possible. There's no need to give a reason or an explanation.
There are a couple of reasons why it's important to let the interviewer know you won't make it. First of all, it's good manners. Secondly, if you simply don't show up or give very short notice, you are burning your bridges with the company and won't have any chance of getting hired by them in the future.
Finally, because interviews are business transactions, you need to leave the “conversation” in as professional a manner as possible. Hiring managers can and do share information about their candidate pools with other local employers as a gesture of goodwill—sometimes if they can’t hire a candidate that has impressed them, they’ll forward their name to another employer who might be trying to fill a similar position.
Email Message Example Canceling an Interview
Use this email message template when you want to cancel the interview. Be sure to note that you are withdrawing your application from consideration.
Sample Email Canceling an Interview
Subject: Your Name - Cancel Interview
Dear Hiring Manager Name,
Thank you for very much for contacting me regarding the customer service agent position available at XYZ company. I appreciate your consideration for the job, but I need to cancel the interview that was scheduled for Tuesday, January 15th at 10 am.
I will not be available to interview and would like to withdraw my application for the position. Again, thank you for your consideration.
When You Want to Reschedule the Interview
When you still want the interview, but can’t make it at the scheduled time, email or call the person who scheduled the interview. If you email and don’t hear back right away, make a call so that you know the interviewer gets the message.
It isn’t necessary to go into a lot of detail about why you need to change your appointment time—you can merely say something general like, “I need to reschedule because of an unanticipated family situation.” Suggest an alternative date and time so you can secure another interview slot.
Email Request to Reschedule Message
Use this email message example when you want to reschedule an interview. Let the hiring manager know when you'll be available for a meeting or call.
Sample Email Asking to Reschedule an Interview
Subject: Your Name - Reschedule Interview Question
Dear Hiring Manager,
Would it be possible to reschedule the interview we had set for the customer service agent position on March 15th at 2 pm? I will not be able to attend at that time, but would very much appreciate the opportunity to talk to you about the position.
My schedule is open for the rest of the week, and I'm available whenever is most convenient for you.
Thank you very much for your consideration.
Give Plenty of Notice
Either way, give the company as much notice as possible that you aren't going to show up for the interview. Being considerate of the interviewer's time will be appreciated, even if you don't want the job.
Make sure you will be able to make the rescheduled interview. You might get a pass the first time you canceled, but it probably won’t happen the second time. Here’s more information about how to reschedule a job interview.
Take the Time to Prepare
As you get ready for your rescheduled interview, take the time to prepare thoroughly so that you can ace it. It's not hard to prepare for a job interview, just time-consuming.