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How to Cancel a Job Interview: Tips and Examples

Whether you’ve woken up ill or accepted another job, you may need to cancel a job interview. These tips and templates will help you do it the right way.
by Vanessa Gibbs | Aug 17 2022

There are times in life when you need to cancel a job interview. Maybe you’ve been offered — and accepted — another job, maybe you’ve changed your mind, or perhaps you’re ill or have a family emergency.

Whatever the reason, you need to cancel the interview and you don’t want to burn any bridges. But how exactly do you do it? 

Below, we’ll dive into how you can cancel a job interview professionally, what to say in different circumstances, and we’ll give you copy-and-paste templates to use for yourself. 

How Do I Decline an Interview After Accepting it? 

Here are our top tips on how to cancel an interview. 

1. Give the Interviewer as Much Notice as Possible 

Whatever your reason for canceling, try to give the interviewer or hiring manager as much notice as possible that you won’t be attending the interview. 

Emergencies like a sick kid or canceled train happen, but aim to let them know as soon as you know you can’t make it.

2. Make it Clear Whether You Want to Cancel Forever or Just Postpone 

This will depend on your circumstances. If you’ve accepted another job or changed your mind and don’t want this job at all anymore, let the interview know you’re withdrawing your application. 

If, on the other hand, you can’t make the interview because of an illness or similar reason, but would still like the job and the opportunity to interview for it, make that clear. You may be able to interview at a later date. 

3. Cancel the Interview Instead of Not Showing Up

Even if you’ve accepted another job, be sure to still let the interviewer know you won’t be turning up to this interview. 

If you simply don’t turn up, you’ll be burning bridges with the company and interviewer. 

Not only does that reduce the chance of getting a job with them in the future, you may get a bad reputation, and you never know who you may come across later in your career if the interviewer changes jobs. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do. 

4. Explain Your Reason, But Don’t Over Explain 

You don’t need to provide a reason for why you’ve canceling or postponing an interview, of course, but it helps. 

Hiring managers are human, too. They understand that people get sick, their cars break down at the last minute, or they accept another job. 

However, you don’t need to over explain yourself. The interviewer doesn’t need to know you’ve been vomiting with a stomach bug all night or how you’ve accepted another job that pays $10,000 more. 

A simple one-or-two-line explanation will do. 

5. Apologize for the Inconvenience 

This doesn’t need to be a long-winded apology. But if you’re still interested in the job and simply need to postpone, be polite and respectful in your cancellation email. 

Apologize for any inconvenience, especially if it’s a last-minute cancellation. 

The hiring manager will be much more open to rescheduling and not holding this against you if you’re polite and apologetic about the situation. 

6. If Postponing, Offer Suitable Dates and Times 

If you do want to postpone the interview, let the interviewer know when you’re next free and provide some dates and times. 

Be as flexible as you can with this. You don’t know how quickly the company wants to hire for the role, so you don’t want to ask for a new interview date weeks away. 

Canceling a Job Interview Examples   

How to Cancel a Job Interview Last Minute

Whether it’s a broken down car or you’ve woken up with a migraine, you may have to cancel an interview you have later that same day. 

If you’re canceling very close to the interview time, send an email and consider calling the front desk of the company to ensure your message gets through to the interviewer in time. 

Email template: 

Hi [interviewer’s name], 

I have an interview for the software engineer role at London Technology Co. today at 10 a.m. 

Unfortunately, I can’t make the interview due to a family emergency. Is it possible to postpone the interview until tomorrow or one day next week? 

I’m available anytime between September 12 and 15. Please let me know what time and date suit you best. 

Thank you for your consideration and apologies for the inconvenience. 

All the best, 

[Your name] 

How to Cancel a Job Interview Due to an Illness 

However tempting it may be, don’t attend an interview if you’re sick. That won’t score you any points with the interviewer and could make them or other people you interact with sick themselves. 

Plus, you won’t be performing your best when you’re ill, so postponing to a time when you feel better will give you a better chance of getting the job. 

You can explain that you won’t be able to make the interview due to an illness — though don’t go into the gory details.

Whilst most hiring managers will understand you having to postpone the interview once, you may not get a chance to postpone it a second time. So, be sure to pick a time and date when you think you’ll be over your illness. 

This is easier said than done, of course. But don’t postpone it by one day if you’re sick in bed with the flu. Give yourself enough time to recover, prepare for the interview, and be on top form when the time comes. 

Email template: 

Hi [interviewer’s name], 

I have an interview for the software engineer role at London Technology Co. on September 9 at 10 a.m. 

Unfortunately, I can’t make the interview due to an illness. Is it possible to postpone the interview until next week? 

I’m available anytime between September 12 and 15. Please let me know what time and date suit you best. 

Thank you for your consideration, and apologies for the inconvenience. 

All the best, 

[Your name]

How to Cancel a Job Interview Due to a Family Emergency  

Explain that it’s a family emergency — although just like with an illness, you don’t need to go into the details — and ask to postpone to another date or time. 

Email template: 

Hi [interviewer’s name], 

I have an interview for the software engineer role at London Technology Co. on September 9 at 10 a.m. 

Unfortunately, I can’t make the interview due to a family emergency. Is it possible to postpone the interview until next week? 

I’m available anytime between September 12 and 15. Please let me know what time and date suit you best. 

Thank you for your consideration and apologies for the inconvenience. 

All the best, 

[Your name]

How to Cancel a Job Interview When You’ve Accepted Another Job 

Be sure to mention you are withdrawing your application and that you won’t be available for another interview, rather than asking to postpone it. 

You can mention you’ve accepted another job or simply state you’re withdrawing without providing a reason why (although you may be asked). 

Email template: 

Hi [interviewer’s name], 

I have an interview for the software engineer role at London Technology Co. on September 9 at 10 a.m. 

I need to cancel the interview, however, and would like to withdraw my application as I’ve accepted another job. 

Thank you for the opportunity to interview for this role. 

All the best, 

[Your name]

How to Cancel a Job Interview Over the Phone 

Most of the time, an email is best so you have proof of the cancellation in writing. 

However, if you’re canceling very last minute, it can be useful to phone the interviewer or company’s front desk to ensure the message gets through to them in time. 

Follow the same rules as above: be polite and apologetic, give a brief reason, and ask if it’s possible to postpone. 

Depending on how the phone call goes, you can offer dates and times for a new interview and agree on when you’ll do it. 

Phone script: 

Hi [interviewer’s name], 

It’s Vanessa, I’m interviewing for the software engineer role with you at 10 a.m. today. 

I wanted to give you a quick call as I need to cancel the interview due to a family emergency. Is it possible to postpone the interview until tomorrow or next week? 

Apologies for the inconvenience. 

Is it Unprofessional to Cancel an Interview? 

While it’s not ideal to cancel a job interview, emergencies and illnesses happen. As long as you’re polite, prompt, and professional, the hiring manager should understand and they should hopefully be able to give you another date and time for your interview. 

However, you should avoid canceling a job interview when: 

  • There’s a chance you still want the job: If you’re having doubts about whether you want the job, it can be tempting to save yourself the stress of the interview and cancel it. But, not only are interviews good practice for future jobs you do want, you may learn more about the company and job role and decide it is for you after all. Even if you don’t want the job, you can always do the interview and turn down the job if you’re offered it. 
  • You’re not prepared for the interview: Don’t cancel a job interview simply because you want more time to prepare. You may not be offered an alternative date and you want to avoid canceling unless you really have to. 
  • Something better comes up: Interviews are never fun, so when a friend invites you to see the latest Marvel movie at your interview time, there may be a part of you that’s tempted to cancel. Avoid the temptation, do the interview, and hit the movie theater afterwards. 

Ideally, you want to avoid canceling a job interview, especially last minute. But life often has other plans and the flu or a broken down car often happen at the worst possible times. And sometimes you simply need to cancel a job interview because you no longer want the job. 

There is a way you can cancel without burning any bridges, though. Be polite, apologetic, and give the hiring manager as much notice as possible. Plus, make it clear whether you want to cancel and withdraw your application, or whether you simply want to postpone and still be considered for the job. 

 

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