How to: Cancel an interview | cancelling interview

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There’s only one thing scarier than an interview: cancelling one…
Whether you can’t attend an interview because you got another job, or unexpected circumstances have gotten in the way of a role you’re still keen on pursuing – cancelling an interview is sometimes the only option. But with recruiters’ time at a minimum, letting them know the bad news (and not burning bridges) can be tough.
We’ve already covered some good reasons to call an interview off, but to make sure you’re doing it in the right way, here are a few tips on how to cancel an interview:

Give (at least) 24 hours’ notice
Newsflash: interviews aren’t the only thing you have to be punctual for.
If you really need to cancel one, it’s absolutely vital that you do it as soon as you find out you can’t attend. This is because recruiters are often short on time, the slot you miss could be used to interview another candidate. And since the interviewer has had to dedicate a space in their calendar for you to unexpectedly stand them up – the least you could do is give them the opportunity to allocate it to something else.

Remember: leave it too late, and you could end up sabotaging your professional reputation, and put your chances of any potential future opportunities at risk.

Use the phone
We hate to break it to you; but a text doesn’t always cut it – especially if you’re cancelling an interview. To ensure you’re able to give a personal and professional message, try calling first. Not only will you be able to able to get an immediate response, you’ll also be approaching the situation with the urgency it deserves. Emailing may seem like a valid choice – but these can get lost or sent to a junk folder, not to mention read the following day if the recipient has a long list of messages to get through.

Additionally, if you’re looking to reschedule, a back and forth phone conversation is a much more efficient way to set a new date that works for both of you.
And if they don’t pick up? Don’t panic. Leaving a voicemail and/or emailing to ask them get back in touch is a great way to cover all bases.

Is it too late now to say sorry? Maybe for JB, but not for you. Because let’s face it, cancelling an interview isn’t something you should approach too casually. To acknowledge the inconvenience you may be causing, always take the time to apologise – even if it’s not your fault.

For example; your car might’ve broken down unexpectedly, but that doesn’t mean you should use your phone call as an opportunity to rant about how your mechanic’s sub-standard work has affected you. Be humble, considerate, and apologetic, and you’ll be far more likely to get an equally polite response. And if you don’t want to reschedule, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say sorry. Always thank the employer for the opportunity, apologise for your inability to attend, and tell them you’ll be in touch if your circumstances change.

Give a good reason
When it comes to explaining your reason for cancelling, not everything will make the cut. Although honesty is important, you should also maintain a good level of professionalism. So aside from making sure your reason warrants a cancellation, you should avoid going overboard with detail too. 

This means giving a good, honest reason (e.g. you got another job) – then avoiding the temptation to exaggerate or elaborate. Not only could indulging in personal aspects of your life make you look unprofessional – it could also put your credibility at risk.
For example: I have to deal with a family emergency: believable. My Grandma was abducted by aliens: unbelievable. If you’re not sure whether your reason is valid, here are five good reasons to cancel an interview.

Finally, following up isn’t just for after an interview. If you’re keen on rescheduling (or already have) – send a follow-up email to reiterate your interest in the company and the role, and apologise again for the inconvenience your cancellation may have caused. Because although your original phone call may have been totally sincere, there’s no guarantee the employer doesn’t still have hard feelings. After all, you had to let them know you couldn’t come, but you don’t have to send a follow-up email.

Show them you’re interested enough to make the extra effort, and they’re far more likely to consider you in the future.

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