How to Cancel a Job Interview Professionally?

Last Updated on October 5, 2022

As cool as it is to get a job interview, perhaps even for your dream job, you might have to cancel. Sometimes things come up, an emergency calls, or you get a better offer that means you don’t need to interview for the original job.

How do you cancel a scheduled job interview and all the work behind it, both respectfully for yourself and for the hiring manager?

While you could just not show up and blow the job off altogether, you should act with professionalism and cancel the job interview correctly. Here’s how to do that so you can walk away from the job and no one gets hurt by the cancellation. 

Who Do You Message When You Cancel a Job Interview?

cancelling a job interview

Ideally, you’ve been involved with someone from HR or a job recruiter who has been working with you during the process and has also scheduled your interview as well. If you have been dealing directly with the employer, the best bet is to communicate with whoever invited you to the interview

If you need to cancel, your best bet is to call or email them. For second and third interviews, if you’ve been given the contact information of someone higher up in the company, such as a hiring manager, contact them.

A good rule of thumb is that if they have invested their time into meeting with you, you need to give them a direct update about your job and if you cannot make it.

Let the Interviewer and Employer Know

First, let the people involved in the interview know about the cancellation as soon as possible. Their time is valuable, and if other people are waiting for the same job, they might be able to schedule in a candidate who can fit into your time slot. Let them know as soon as you find out you can’t make it and apologize for not being able to make it.

You want to be as respectful as you can. If you are simply rescheduling and still want to apply for the job, then you want the employer to still think highly of you. This is a great way to show your maturity and business skills whenever things don’t go your way, and it also can show off your communication skills as well.

If you are not interested in the position at all, then let them know that you have declined your candidacy through email. Be respectful, thank the interviewer for their time, and provide as much notice as possible.

You don’t need to give a reason or explanation, just thanks. Again, this allows you to move on without burning bridges and also shows good manners and maturity. 

Plan to Reschedule if Applicable

Sometimes job interviews aren’t cancelled because of you not wanting the job, but simply because things have come up that you can’t avoid.

Problems can happen on your end, and that means that you need to be aware of how to handle them. Send an email or call (more on that down below), and make sure to reassure the interviewer that you are still interested.

You don’t need to go into a lot of detail about why you are rescheduling and can simply say something as vague as ‘an emergency came up.’ Then give the times and dates that you are available for a rescheduled interview, and ask for the same information from your interviewer.

This will allow everyone to schedule a new job interview and hopefully go through with it this time.

Most employers will allow you to reschedule if you handle it right. Again, how you communicate with your employer and reschedule your interview can be a sign of how you will handle emergencies in the workplace. A good demeanour can make your employer more likely to do business with you.

Call Vs. Email for Cancelling a Job Interview?

The age-old question of business, do you call or do you send an email? Well, whenever it comes to cancelling a job interview, you should do both. If you are cancelling, whether you reschedule or not, you need to give your employer the most notice possible as soon as possible.

That often means sending an email first, and if you don’t hear back within 24 hours, then call your employer to ensure that they got the message and are properly notified. 

No matter which method of communication you decide to use, be brief, courteous, and professional. If you include the reason why you are declining the interview, then only share a few brief sentences and not a sob story. Additionally, be thankful for the job and thank the interviewer and anyone who helped you out through the hiring process.

Not only does being courteous show off your good manners, but it also helps you if you ever decide to reapply for the same job in the future or work with the same company later on. Your professional network is also maintained as well.

Some hiring managers and interviewers talk to one another, and they will certainly talk about how customers and potential customers made them feel. 

Finally, during your email or call, be sure to be detailed about the interview itself. Share your name, the date, time, and location of the interview, and the position you planned on interviewing for as well.

A hiring manager needs to handle several different types of positions with lots of employees, so having all your information up front allows them to plan how they will respond.

How Do You Cancel a Second or Third Interview?

Sometimes you might make it through the first phase of the hiring process and have a stellar first interview. However, if you need to cancel the second or third job interview due to unforeseen circumstances, these require a bit more tact to get through.

You’ve likely built up a pretty good relationship with your employer and you don’t want to set fire to all of those bridges, so you need to handle this cancellation carefully.

First, you need to provide a bit more detail about why you are cancelling. The employer and the hiring manager have gotten to know you a bit more over the course of a few interviews, so make sure you take it slow when cancelling or rescheduling.

Make sure to provide a bit more detail in your emails or even consider giving them a phone call and talking to the people involved.

Again, this is going to help you not burn any bridges and allows you to maintain a good relationship with the people you have met. If you ever need to come back to this job or this company, then you might want to have some friends in your corner. Proper manners when cancelling is the best way to do it.

Is Cancelling a Job Interview without Rescheduling Unprofessional?

While you might be worried about looking unprofessional by cancelling a job interview, especially if you don’t intend to reschedule it, don’t be. People cancel interviews all the time, and some don’t reschedule. Most employers aren’t going to be too hurt by it because they understand how the job market works. 

People change their minds, make mistakes, get better offers, or get caught up in emergencies. So if you cancel the job interview, then you don’t need to feel guilty about it, don’t stress out. However, you do need to make sure you aren’t ghosting the company and simply not giving any notice and then not showing up. That is unprofessional!

Make sure to give notice, be clear and concise, be thankful, and apologize for any inconvenience. That’s the professional way to handle cancelling a job interview.

You can also cancel the interview with short notice if a real emergency comes up. This includes having a family emergency or a medical issue the day before, or maybe another opportunity you want to pursue came into your inbox this morning. Just make sure you give notice, even if it is short. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Use a Template

Finally, if you are really struggling with cancelling a job interview without feeling like a total jerk and you want to do it right, don’t be afraid to use a template. There are dozens of email templates and call scripts that you can use to flesh out a respectful email that still allows you to cancel and/or also reschedule your job interview.

If you find yourself stressing out about the cancellation, then make sure to use someone else’s words for it! Find a template and then modify it to suit your needs, and you can be sure that it will be effective.

You Don’t Have to Work Hard to Cancel a Job Interview Right

You might have to send an email or make a phone call, but most employers understand that things happen and that job interviews have to either be cancelled or rescheduled.

As long as you are respectful, clear, and thankful in your communication with your employer, then you will be able to cancel the job interview while walking away with no burned bridges! 

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