Guide: How to Cancel an Interview Gracefully with samples

by Sianna Shah

How to cancel an interview

Have you ever found yourself in the tricky position of needing how to cancel a job interview? You're not alone.

Whether it's due to accepting another offer, personal emergencies, or simply a change of heart, cancelling an interview is a reality many face but few discuss. The stigma around cancellation often leaves candidates needing help proceeding without burning bridges.

This blog will guide you through the nuances of cancelling an interview with professionalism and tact. 

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Step-by-step guide on how to cancel an interview

Steps on how to cancel an interview

  1. Decide Promptly: As soon as you know you want to cancel the interview, decide quickly to give the employer as much notice as possible.
  2. Choose the Right Medium: Depending on how communication with the company has been going, you can cancel via email or Phone. Email is generally preferred for its formality and for providing a written record.
  3. Be Polite and Concise: Clearly state your intention to cancel the interview. You don't need to provide a detailed reason, but you should offer a brief explanation. Thanking the interviewer for the opportunity and their time shows professionalism.
  4. Suggest Rescheduling (If Applicable): If you're still interested in the position but need help making it for a legitimate reason, suggest alternative dates or times for rescheduling. However, if you've decided the position isn't a good fit, it's best to be honest and not suggest rescheduling.
  5. Prompt Follow-up: After sending your cancellation notice, be prepared to respond to any follow-up from the company. They may have additional questions or require further information.

How to write a thank you email after interview

How to cancel an interview without burning bridges

There are several ways to cancel an interview, each suitable for different situations and personal preferences. Your chosen method should balance professionalism with the urgency and nature of your reason for cancelling. 

The best method to cancel an interview—whether via phone, email, or through a recruitment agency—depends on your specific circumstances, the level of formality in your communication with the company or recruiter, and the urgency of the cancellation. Here’s a comparison to help you decide:

Email Phone Call Recruitment Agency
Record Keeping Provides a written record. No written record, unless followed by email. Agency keeps record of communication.
Preparation Time Time to carefully compose your message. Immediate, less time to prepare speech. No preparation needed; agency handles it.
Urgency Suitable for non-urgent cancellations. Immediate communication for urgent matters. Depends on agency's promptness.
Personal Touch May seem impersonal. Personal touch can express sincerity. Less personal as it goes through a third party.
Visibility Risk of being overlooked in email. Direct, ensures message is heard. Risk of delayed communication.
Nervousness Less nerve-wracking, more time to think. Can be nerve-wracking for some. No direct confrontation required.
Clarity Clear message if well-composed. Risk of miscommunication if nervous. Clarity depends on agency's communication skills.
Direct Gratitude Can express thanks, but may feel less sincere. Allows for sincere gratitude expression. Gratitude conveyed by third party.
Timing Risk Low; email can be sent anytime. High; risk of calling at an inconvenient time. Low; agency manages timing.
Personal Responsibility Direct responsibility to communicate. Direct responsibility to communicate. Outsourced responsibility to the agency.

Our Recommendation

  • For Formality and Directness: If you've had considerable interaction with the hiring manager and feel comfortable, a phone call is highly recommended. It's direct, personal, and shows a high level of professionalism.
  • For Convenience and Clarity: If you prefer to have a written record of your communication or cancel well in advance, an email is suitable. It allows for clear communication and is less intrusive.
  • Through Recruitment Agency: If a recruiter arranges your interview, it's best to go through them for the cancellation. They can advise and handle the situation professionally, maintaining your relationship with the agency and the potential employer.

Ultimately, choose the method you believe will be most effective and considerate under the circumstances, considering the nature of your relationship with the interviewer or recruitment agency.

Questions to ask at the end of an interview

How to cancel an interview via email?

To cancel an interview via email, you must remain professional and courteous throughout your message. Here's a step-by-step guide and a template to help you write an effective cancellation email:

  1. Subject Line: Start with a clear subject line so the recipient knows the email's purpose immediately. For example, "Interview Cancellation - [Your Name] for [Position Name]."
  2. Greetings: Address the email to the person who scheduled your interview or your primary contact at the company, using their proper title (e.g., Mr., Ms., Dr.) and last name.
  3. State Your Intent Early: For clarity, it's best to mention that you're writing to cancel your scheduled interview.
  4. Brief Explanation: Provide a brief reason for the cancellation. You don't need to go into great detail, but a simple explanation shows respect for their time.
  5. Express Gratitude: Thank them for the opportunity and the time they have already invested in you. This helps maintain a positive relationship.
  6. Optional: Suggest Rescheduling: If you're still interested in the position but cannot do the original interview for legitimate reasons, you might suggest rescheduling. However, it's best to omit it if you are no longer interested in the position.
  7. Close Politely: End the email with a polite closing, your Name, and any contact information not already included in your email signature.

Examples of email templates you can use

Email Examples

Scenario 1: Accepting Another Job Offer

Subject: Interview Cancellation - [Your Name]

Dear [Employer's Name],

I hope this Employer'snds you well. I must cancel our [Position Name] interview on [Date and Time]. After careful consideration, I have accepted a position elsewhere that aligns closely with my career goals and aspirations.

I have sincere gratitude for considering me for this opportunity and for the effort I put into arranging our interview. I greatly respect [Company Name] and your work, and I hope we cross paths under different circumstances.

Thank you again for your understanding, and best wishes for your continued success.

Warm regards,
[Your Name]

Scenario 2: Personal Reasons

Subject: Interview Cancellation - [Your Name]

Dear [Employer's Name],

I regret to inform you that I must cancel our interview for the [Position Name] scheduled on [Date and Time] due to unforeseen personal reasons. This decision was not made lightly, and I apologize for any inconvenience it may cause.

I am very appreciative of the opportunity and your consideration. [Company Name]'s dedication to [something specific about the company or position] is genuinely admirable, and I was looking forward to the possibility of contributing to your team.

Thank you for your understanding and kindness during this time. I hope to reconnect under different circumstances.

Best regards,
[Your Name]

Scenario 3: Realizing the Position Isn't a Good Fit

Subject: Interview Cancellation - [Your Name]

Dear [Employer's Name],

Thank you for the opportunity to interview for the [Position Name] at [Company Name]. After further reflection on my career goals and the job description, this position may not be the best fit. Consequently, cancelling our scheduled interview on [Date and Time] is best.

I sincerely appreciate your understanding and the time you've already invested in considering my application. [Company Name]'s commitment to [specific aspect of the company or its mission] is commendable. I hope to contribute to your efforts in a more suitable capacity.

Thank you again for your consideration. I wish [Company Name] all the best in your ongoing and future projects.

Kind regards,

[Your Name]

How to cancel an interview via Phone?

Cancelling an interview via Phone requires a blend of professionalism and courtesy, just as with an email, but it allows for more immediate and personal interaction. Here's a guide on how to canceHere'snterview over the Phone:

  1. Prepare Your Points: Know precisely what you'll say before you call. You should be clear, concise, and ready to provide a brief reason for the cancellation.
  2. Find a Quiet Place: Make sure you're in a quiet environment where you can speak clearly and won't be interrupted.
  3. Call at an Appropriate Time: Try to call during business hours, and consider when the person you need to speak with might be less busy.
  4. Start with a Greeting and Identification: Begin the call by introducing yourself and mentioning the interview you're referring to. For example, "Good morning, this is [Your Name]. I am calling about the interview scheduled for [Date] for the [Position Name]."
  5. State Your Purpose Politely: Tell them that you are calling to cancel the interview. Be direct but polite about it.
  6. Provide a Reason (Briefly): You don't have to go into detail, but providing a brief reason for the cancellation is courteous. For example, "Due to unforeseen personal reasons, I'm unable to attend the interview" or "After careful consideration, I've decided to pursue another opportunity that aligns more closely with my career objectives."
  7. Express Your Gratitude: Thank them for the opportunity and their understanding. This maintains professionalism and leaves a good impression.
  8. Mention Rescheduling (If Interested): If you're still interested in the position but can't interview for a legitimate reason, ask if it's possible to reschedule.
  9. Thank Them Again and Close Politely: End the call by thanking them again for their time and understanding, saying, "I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused."

Here are two examples:

Example 1: Direct Cancellation

"Hello [Interviewer's Name], this is [Your Name]. I hope you're doing well. I'm calling regarding the interview scheduled for [Date and Time] for the [Position Name]. 

After much thought, I have decided to cancel the interview. [You can insert a brief reason here, such as: "I've been offered a position elsewhere that aligns closely with my career goals," or "Due to unforeseen personal circumstances, I am not able to proceed at this time."]

I am writing to express my sincere apologies for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for the opportunity and consideration you've extended. I have a great deal of respect for [Company Name] and hope we can stay in touch for future possibilities. Thank you again for your understanding."

Example 2: Cancellation and Request to Reschedule

"Good morning/afternoon [Interviewer's Name], this is [Your Name]. I'm contacting you regarding our interview for [Date and Time] for the [Position Name].

 I was very much looking forward to our meeting. Still, unfortunately, [insert reason here, e.g., "I've had a family emergency arise" or "I'm dealing with a sudden health issue"] that will prevent me from attending the interview as planned. 

I am still very interested in the position and would like to find a way to reschedule the interview for a later date. I understand this is inconvenient, and I apologise for the short notice. I truly appreciate your understanding and flexibility. Please let me know if it's possible to find another suitable time. Thank you very much for your consideration."

How to cancel an interview "through a recruitment agency

Cancelling an interview arranged through a recruitment agency involves a slightly different approach, as you're communicating through a third party. Here's how to navigate this process:

  1. Contact Your Recruiter Directly: As soon as you decide to cancel the interview, contact your recruitment agent directly. Given the nature of their job, recruiters prefer a phone call for immediacy. Still, an email could also be appropriate, especially if you need a written record of the cancellation or if it's outside business hours.
  2. Be Honest and Prompt: Explain your reason for cancelling as clearly and honestly as possible without going into unnecessary detail. The recruiter will appreciate promptness and honesty since it affects their relationship with the employer.
  3. Provide a Reason: While you don't need to divulge extensive personal details, providing a concise reason for the cancellation can help maintain a good relationship with the recruitment agency. For example, "I've accepted another offer that aligns more closely with my career goals" or "Due to unforeseen personal circumstances, I cannot proceed with the interview process at this time."
  4. Express Your Gratitude: Thank the recruiter for their efforts and the opportunity. Acknowledging their time and assistance helps preserve a positive relationship for future opportunities.
  5. Discuss Next Steps (If Applicable): If you're still interested in exploring other opportunities through the agency, let the recruiter know. They can keep you in mind for future positions that match your skills and preferences.
  6. Follow-Up in Writing (If You Called): If you cancel over the phone, following up with a brief email confirming your conversation is a good practice. This ensures there's a written record of the cancellation and your reasons.

Example of an email

Subject: Interview Cancellation for [Position Name] on [Date]

Dear [Recruiter's Name],

I hope this email finds you well. I must cancel my interview for the [Position Name] position scheduled for [Date]. 

[Provide your reason here, e.g., "After careful consideration, I've decided to accept another offer that aligns closely with my long-term career goals."]

I am conveying my decision as soon as possible to minimize any inconvenience to you and [Company Name]. I sincerely appreciate your understanding and all the effort you've put into arranging this interview. 

[If applicable: "I am still very interested in exploring other opportunities, so please keep me in mind for future openings that align with my skills and experience."]

Thank you again for your support and understanding.

Best regards,
[Your Name]

Remember, recruitment agencies understand that circumstances change, and being professional in communication helps maintain a positive relationship with them for future opportunities.

Conclusion

Cancelling an interview doesn't have to be a negative experience. You can maintain a positive relationship with potential employers by handling the situation promptly, professionally, and gratifiedly.

Remember, the key is communicating clearly and respectfully, keeping the door open for future opportunities.

 

 

 

 

 


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