This is the right way to cancel an interview

So you want to say no to a job interview after you’ve already said yes.

Job seekers cancel interviews for a whole host of reasons, but it’s best to be confident that you don’t want the job if you do decide to cancel your interview.

Is It Unprofessional to Cancel an Interview?

Canceling a job interview doesn’t exactly look good. But if you’re confident that you don’t want the job, making a wise decision for your career and not wasting anyone else’s time isn’t necessarily unprofessional. And, of course, there are ways to cancel an interview more professionally.

So while canceling a job interview might be awkward, you could save both yourself and your prospective employer a lot of time by weeding yourself out of the recruitment process.

When You Shouldn’t Cancel an Interview

You shouldn’t cancel an interview if you actually want the job or if there’s still a chance that you want the job. If you need to reschedule the interview, however, that’s a different story.

In other words, don’t cancel the interview because you fell ill, you couldn’t get the day off from your current job or you had a family emergency; rather, ask to reschedule. Likewise, don’t cancel the interview just because you’re running late because you didn’t account for traffic or overslept, couldn’t find a babysitter, were overtired, or something else that could have been avoided had you planned ahead.

Potential Consequences of Canceling an Interview?

  • You will look unprofessional if you cancel an interview for a job that you do indeed want for reasons that are illegitimate. 
  • Your unreliability will be a point against you.
  • You might not get a second chance at interviewing for that position or with the company in its entirety.

When You Should Cancel an Interview

As mentioned, there are tons of reasons why people cancel job interviews. It’s OK to cancel an interview if you’re confident that this is not a job that you’d like to work, and if you’re willing to risk your chances with the company for which you’d have been interviewing as they may not think to rely on you next time.

Life happens, skeletons fall out of the closet, and people change their minds. Here are just a few scenarios in which you should cancel an interview:

  • A better job offer popped up that you’ve accepted.
  • You heard some news about the company that doesn’t align with your values, so you know you can’t be associated.
  • You decided you can’t afford the career move — whether that be because of the new commute, a move you might have to make, a pay cut or a loss of benefits.
  • You have other obligations that you decided to prioritize, such as a family or another passion.
  • You simply just changed your mind.

It’s also important to note that if you’ve been complimenting any of the aforementioned reasons not to take the job if offered it, you do have the option to politely decline the interview before ever accepting it and having to back out later.

How Do You Politely Decline an Interview?

To politely decline an interview, even after you’ve submitted an application, you simply have to respond letting the interview or recruiter know that you’re no longer interested. While you don’t owe them a reason, you can simply say that a better offer has popped up for you or you’ve decided to make a different career move for yourself that’s more fitting at this time.

Just be sure to thank them for their time and consideration, and feel free to add if you’d like to keep in touch for any future openings that might be a better fit.

How to Cancel an Interview

If you’ve decided to cancel your job interview, you’ll want to be sure to follow some steps to be sure you’re as professional as possible. So how do you withdraw a job application? Follow these three guidelines.

1. Let your interviewer know as soon as you know either by email or phone.

2. Be brief about your reason — you don’t owe anyone an explanation, but it’s kind to explain yourself without oversharing.

3. Bear in mind that anything can happen in the future, so make sure not to bash the company or burn any bridges

Depending on how you’ve been communicating with your interviewer, you can reach out to them either by email or phone. If most of your communication has been via email, you don’t necessarily want to bother them with a phone call. After all, just because you got the interview doesn’t mean that they were definitely going to hire you — so you don’t want to waste any more of their time. But if you’ve been talking over the phone and have had very few correspondences over email, then it’s probably best to give them a quick call. This way you can confirm that they’ve received your message and you’ll come off as sincere as possible.

Email Template

Hi [employer/interviewer name] / Dear [employer/interviewer name],

I’m reaching out to inform you that, unfortunately, I will be canceling our interview for the [job title] position that we had arranged for [date and Ttme] at [interview location]. Thank you for considering me for this role, but I’ve decided to remove myself from consideration.

[Brief explanation of why you’re canceling, such as you’ve reevaluated the career move, without oversharing.]

I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding in advance.

[Your name]

Phone Script

Hi [employer/interviewer name],

I wanted to give you a quick call to discuss our upcoming interview for the [job title] position that we had arranged for [date and Ttme] at [interview location]. Thank you for considering me for this role, but I’ve decided to remove myself from consideration.

[Brief explanation of why you’re canceling, such as you’ve reevaluated the career move, without oversharing.]

I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and hope to keep in touch if there’s a better fit for us in the future.

What if You Don’t Want to Cancel But Can’t Make It Anymore?

If an unforeseen situation arises and you don’t want to have to cancel your interview, you might have the option to rain check. You can ask your interviewer if it’s okay to reschedule the job interview given your circumstances.

Is It Bad to Reschedule an Interview?

While rescheduling a job interview isn’t ideal either, it’s not necessarily unprofessional depending on your situation. There are times when you should never reschedule — like when you’re hung over, you didn’t plan ahead, you forgot, something more fun came up, or you were unprepared in some way. But if you’re rescheduling an interview because you had a serious health issue, a work obligation you couldn’t get out of, or a personal or family emergency, your interviewer should understand.  So long as you’re professional about it, your prospective employer will likely respect your needs.

Just like with canceling an interview, be sure to follow basic decency so that you don’t burn bridges. You never know if you’ll want to work for that company in the future, or who might be connected to who. Always be courteous, give as much time as possible and, when rescheduling, have a back-up date in mind.

This article first appeared on FairyGodBoss.