How to Cancel a Job Interview (Examples Included)

How to Cancel a Job Interview (Examples Included)
How to Cancel a Job Interview (Examples Included)

16 March, 2021

By Mike Simpson

You’ve done it. You created an amazing resume and cover letter, capturing the attention of the hiring manager and landing yourself a glorious interview. The only problem is, while you initially said “yes” to the meeting, now, you need to back out.

Maybe you landed another job before the interview arrived, or you discovered a little tidbit that shows that position isn’t really for you. In any case, now you have to figure out how to cancel a job interview properly, ensuring you don’t accidentally burn any bridges along the way.

In the end, canceling an interview can be a bit tricky. Luckily, you’re here, and we’ve got your back. Come with us as we take a deep dive into how to cancel an interview.

Basics of Interview Cancellation

Alright, before we get into the nitty-gritty of canceling an interview, let’s take a step back for just a second and look at a couple of critical points. It’s important to understand what canceling actually means, including the impact it can have on your prospects and career.

Wait, doesn’t canceling just mean telling the hiring manager you’re not coming? Well, yes and no.

When you cancel your job interview, you are saying that you won’t attend. However, what you’re also saying, albeit possibly indirectly, is that you’re not interested in the job. Canceling an interview isn’t the same as trying to reschedule. Instead, it’s much more like a rejection.

Why does that matter? Well, for one, no one likes getting rejected, including hiring managers. For another, when you outright cancel, you’re effectively shutting a door, at least for a while. It’s usually a decision you can’t simply walk back.

Now, it’s also important to understand that the impression you make when canceling matters. If you handle it the wrong way, not only are you giving up this opportunity, but you may be giving up on ever working for that company. Yikes, right?

Oh, and it can get worse. Just like with candidates, hiring managers have large networks. A bad impression with one might as well be a bad impression with them all. If word gets around that you didn’t handle this well, you might be closing the door on more opportunities than you realize.

To put it simply, a hiring manager will remember if you’re rude or dismissive, and they might hold that against you. Plus, they may tell other hiring managers about their experience with you.

Luckily, it can also work the other way. If you nail your approach, you can actually up the value of your stock. You’ll establish yourself as a professional who can navigate complicated situations. That’s good stuff.

Now, which approach is right for you may depend on a few factors. Why you’re canceling can come into play, as well as how you decide to cancel.

You might need a different strategy if you’re canceling because you got another job than if you learned something about the company you didn’t like. Similarly, you won’t use the same method if you’re emailing the hiring manager instead of calling them. More on all of that in a second.

Canceling a Job Interview

When you’re working on how to cancel a job interview, a strategic approach is best. So, without further ado, here is a step-by-step guide you can use to cancel an interview.

1. Choose Your Approach

In most cases, you’re going to use one of two approaches: email or phone call.

Usually, whichever method was used to schedule your interview in the first place is fine. Besides, you may only have the hiring manager’s email or phone number because that’s all they shared when they reached out, and that’s okay.

Just understand that a phone call means you’re opening the door for an actual conversation. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, it can be a little challenging. You don’t always know how they’ll react, and you’ll have to ride out the discussion no matter how it goes. But if you already have a decent rapport with the hiring manager, it can be a good choice.

It’s also important to note that, even if you call, you may still have to send an email. Some companies prefer written records of those requests, so you might get asked to reiterate what you shared via email.

Does that mean you should just default to emailing? Well, that may not always be ideal either. If the hiring manager doesn’t check their email regularly or accidentally overlooks your message, they might not know you canceled.

Even if 41 percent of job seekers think ghosting a company is reasonable, hiring managers well never (and we mean never) agree with that. If they don’t see your email, they could think you no-call/no-showed, and that’s no good.

So, what should you do? Well, if you have an email address and phone number for the hiring manager, you can always go with both. Reach out by phone first and, if needed, follow up with an email. If you’re call goes to voicemail, then you can send an email right away as a backup.

MIKE’S TIP: Worried about talking with them on the phone when you cancel? Then place your call after business hours. You can increase your odds of being sent to voicemail, allowing you to leave a message instead of having a conversation. Do be aware that there’s always a chance they’ll answer, so be ready to talk just in case.

Is there ever a time when you should cancel in-person? More often than not, the answer is usually no. If you don’t work at that company now, canceling in person would mean scheduling a meeting with the hiring manager to do it. So, you’re requesting a meeting to cancel a meeting. Not a good move.

If you work at the company or in the building with the hiring manager, dropping in unannounced or letting them know while passing each other in the hall is a bad idea. That may seem rude or unprofessional, as you’re essentially blindsiding them. In the end, your best bet is usually just to stick with phone calls and emails.

2. Express Your Appreciation

Being invited in for an interview is a big deal. If you want to make a good impression, your first step should always be to thank the hiring manager for the invitation and express your regrets that you won’t be able to attend.

3. Cancel Definitively

While being straightforward may seem overly blunt, it’s better than there being any confusion about your intentions. If you hedge, the hiring manager may assume you want to reschedule instead. Then, if they offer, you essentially have to reject them again, and that’s not ideal.

Instead, be abundantly clear that you want to cancel. In fact, use the word “cancel” just to be safe.

4. Offer a Simple Explanation

Now, you don’t have to divulge a ton of details when you’re canceling an interview. However, giving the hiring manager a simple reason is usually polite. Plus, when used properly, it helps remove any doubt about your intention not to attend.

When you share a reason, be incredibly concise. Many reasons are common and understandable, so you don’t have to say a ton.

For example, with the average hiring process taking 12 to 54 days, depending on industry, saying that you accepted a job elsewhere is enough. Hiring managers know you may have other resumes out there, so you don’t have to go into greater detail.

5. Request to Stay in Touch

If the reason you’re canceling has nothing to do with the company or opportunity itself, and you might be interested in working for the hiring manager down the line, don’t slam the door shut. Instead, try to leave it cracked a bit by requesting to stay in touch.

In most cases, this means asking to connect on social media. With that approach, the hiring manager ends up as part of your network, so you can stay in touch and reach out when you’re looking for a new opportunity later.

Just keep in mind that the hiring manager can say “no.” If they do, respect their decision; it’s the polite thing to do.

6. Wrap It Up

When it comes time to close out your message or conversation, end as you began, with a resounding “thank you.” After that, simply sign off.

Cancellation Mistakes

As with all things job search, making certain mistakes when you’re working on how to cancel an interview can come back to bite you.

One of the biggest ones is waiting until the last minute. Ideally, you want to reach out as soon as you know you won’t be attending. That means, if you have that figured out days before your interview time, that’s when you should reach out.

A last-minute cancellation usually seems rude, as well as disrespectful of the hiring manager’s time. While certain situations can make a last-minute cancellation unavoidable, that approach should only be used when absolutely necessary.

Another misstep is badmouthing the company when you’re canceling. Even if you found out something about the business you didn’t like, and it’s the reason you won’t be attending, leave that detail out of the discussion. After all, things there may change one day. But if you insult them now, that bridge may be burned forever.

Finally, don’t cancel if what you really want to do is reschedule. Those are two different goals, so you’ll want to use a different approach is rescheduling is really what you’re hoping for.

3 Examples of Job Interview Cancellations

As mentioned above, when it comes to how to cancel a job interview, your approach matters. You’ll want to go about it a little differently depending on whether you’re emailing, calling, or leaving a voicemail. That way, you’ll come across as a polite professional, which really should be your main goal.

So, if you aren’t sure how to tackle it, here are three example job interview cancellations, each based on a different approach.

1. Email

Dear [Hiring Manager],

Thank you for considering me for the [position title] at [company name]. Regretfully, I am reaching out to inform you that I need to cancel the interview that was scheduled for [date] at [time].

I genuinely appreciate the invitation to interview, but I am removing myself from consideration. At this time, the role isn’t the right fit for my career, so I am pursuing other opportunities.

I apologize for any inconvenience this cancellation may cause and appreciate your understanding in this matter. If my career plans shift in the future, I will certainly reach out. If you would like to connect on LinkedIn, I would be happy to do so.

Again, thank you for considering me for this opportunity.

Sincerely,

[Your signature]

2. Phone Call

Hello [Hiring Manager], this is [your name]. I’m reaching out to let you know that I need to cancel my interview for the [job title] opening that was scheduled for [time] on [date].

I appreciate your consideration, but I’ve accepted a new job elsewhere, so I am no longer seeking out new opportunities.

I wish you luck finding a great candidate for this position and hope that we can keep in touch on LinkedIn. Thank you again for your time.

3. Voicemail

Hello [Hiring Manager], this is [your name]. I’m calling to let you know that I need to cancel my interview for the [job title] opening that is scheduled for [date] at [time]. While I appreciate the opportunity, I am no longer seeking out new opportunities. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and hope you are able to secure an excellent candidate quickly. Thank you again.

Putting It All Together

Now, you should have a solid idea of how to cancel a job interview should the need arise. Just use the tips above to your advantage. That way, you’ll make a great impression, ensuring you keep the door cracked and your reputation intact.

Good luck!

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