How to Cancel the Interview Without Burning Bridges

Are you an employer who’s looking for the right person to close the vacancy? Or are you on the other side of the issue, being a talent in a seak of the perfect career match? The interview meeting as a step toward the goal is a common thing for both people. However, things happen, and sometimes either of the sides needs to cancel an appointment. How to do it politely and stay in touch with a person for the possible future cooperation? Here are some tips both for employers and employees.

Reasons to Cancel or Reschedule the Interview

Both the company and the job candidate have to think of their reputation when writing a cancellation email. You can’t just call off your appointment because you woke up on the wrong side of the bed. The reasons must be weighty so that the other party understood your arguments and considered further cooperation with you.

Why Employer Cancels or Reschedules the Interview:

  • you’ve already found a perfect candidate for the position;
  • the company decided to postpone or close the vacancy;
  • you need to reschedule due to some emergency - illness, flight delay, huge traffic jam, etc.;
  • some critical meeting has to take place at the same time.

In any of these cases, you have to contact the candidate and apologize for the change in plans. Not all of the situations mentioned above require an interview cancellation email. In case of emergency, it’s better to call a person to make sure he/she received the information. A candidate may be on his/her way to your office, and there is no guarantee he/she gets your email in time.

Why Candidate Cancels or Reschedules the Interview:

  • you’ve received a more attractive offer and are not interested in the interview anymore;
  • some information about the company changed your mind (poor social package, bad reviews, office in the middle of nowhere, etc.);
  • you ask to reschedule the appointment because of emergency (illness, unsolved issues, important meeting, traffic jams and other delays, etc.)

Both a hiring person and a candidate have to be polite and save “the room” for the possible future cooperation. It’s a small world, and you don’t want to spoil your reputation by the disrespectful replies or ignoring. Who knows, maybe you will need this person (or his/her friend, colleague, relative)  in a month or ten, and he/she will think twice whether to do business with you.

The same’s with the candidate: if you’ve ignored your interview without notification, they will hardly call you again even if you’re a highly qualified specialist. Don’t think you’re too awesome to apologize - bad attitude is long-remembered.

Interview Cancellation and Rescheduling Emails: Tips and Tricks

First of all, you need to understand whether you are canceling the appointment or just rescheduling it. The subject line of your email must define it precisely. You can’t cancel the interview and then in a few days write: “Oh, hey, I’ve changed my mind, let’s meet on Tuesday.” No one would take you seriously. Next, do not cancel/reschedule the meeting ten minutes before its actual start. In case of emergency, call a candidate or a hiring person. Don’t forget to apologize.

Here’s what you should include in your interview cancellation or rescheduling email:

1. Subject line: mention whether it’s a Cancellation or Rescheduling.

2. Include the position details - a person (either a candidate or an employer) may have several job interviews, and specifying the one will save his/her time.

3. Mention the reasons for cancellation/rescheduling. There’re some nuances here. If you cancel the interview because you’ve found a better candidate, be very careful and polite to message this to the person. It’s better to formulate it in a way: “We’ve already found a person for this position, but... “ and mention that you’ve saved the person’s CV and contact him/her as soon as the new appropriate position appears. Don’t forget to apologize for inconveniences.

If you are a candidate and you found a better offer, say so. The company may ask you about the details of your another job proposal and offer better conditions if they need you badly. Still, it’s your choice whether to reveal the details.

If the reasons for rescheduling are personal, an employer may not elaborate on the issue - mention the “emergency,” or “personal situation.” However, the cancellation should be explained. The same is true for the candidates - choose the words to tell that the situation is serious but do not send the long read about how your babysitter broke her leg on the party last night, and you have no one to leave your 2-year-old with. It is irrelevant and makes no difference to the fact that you won’t be present at the appointed time.   

4. If you are rescheduling, offer several options for the new interview so that the person could choose. In case of interview cancellation email, do mention the possibilities of future cooperation. Even if you are not interested.

5. Apologize! Whether you are a hiring person or a candidate, in case of cancellation or rescheduling, say you are sorry for inconveniences. Choose the formal and polite tone of voice.

6. Use a neat and professional email signature - sometimes people skim the letter, so the clear signature is vital to understand whether to read the email more thoroughly or close it for good.

7. Send the cancellation or rescheduling email beforehand. It is a good idea to use a tracking tool for these kinds of emails to find out whether they were opened. In case of last-minute emergency, do not send the email, call a person instead. Even if he/she is already on his way or even entering your office, make a call nevertheless and apologize. This will show that you care about the person’s time and attitude.  

Following these tips, you will have a strong reputation and a clear consciousness. Who knows how it can benefit you in the future?

Ostap is a marketing professional (PMM) with 5+ years of experience in the software industry (B2B and B2C). Having worked with email marketing products and services, Ostap has a deep understanding of various email marketing strategies and solutions.