How to Cancel an Interview in 3 Steps

Notify the interviewer in a polite and timely manner.
Cara Smith
By Cara Smith 
Edited by Taryn Phaneuf

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There are several reasons why you might need to cancel an interview. Maybe you receive a better job offer, or your personal circumstances change and you’re no longer able to accept a new position.

As long as you cancel your interview politely and in a timely manner, you can often maintain a professional relationship with the employer, according to Forbes.

Here are some reasons why you might cancel an interview:

  • You received and accepted another job offer.

  • You’re no longer interested in the job or the company. 

  • You’re moving and unable to report to the office or workplace. 

  • Your personal circumstances have changed, and you wouldn’t be able to accept a job offer or fulfill the responsibilities.  

But before you decide to cancel an interview, ask yourself: Should you reschedule the interview instead? If you aren’t 100% sure you don’t want the job, opt to reschedule instead of canceling the interview, says Heather Livingston, a career advisor at the University of Phoenix.

“If you have any, any inkling that you still want to work there, don't cancel it, because that's obviously going to remove you from the running,” Livingston says.

Here are some reasons to reschedule an interview:

  • You’re sick, and unable to interview on your scheduled date.

  • You’ve experienced a personal emergency, such as a death in the family, and will be out of town for several days. 

  • Your transportation fell through, and you’re unable to report to the interview. 

  • Your internet is out, and you can’t take a virtual interview from a public library or friend’s house. 

If you decide to cancel the interview, follow these steps.

How to cancel an interview

Step 1: Call the interviewer or recruiter ASAP

First, get in touch with the recruiter or interviewer as soon as possible, ideally at least 24 hours before the interview is scheduled to take place.

Don’t send your cancellation via text message or email, Livingston says. Yes, it’s always tempting to avoid a potentially awkward conversation. But given the sensitivity of what you’re communicating, calling the interviewer is more respectful and professional than texting or emailing. It shows that you want the interviewer to know about the cancellation as soon as possible, so they can adjust their schedule accordingly.

Plus, even the most politely worded cancellation email or text can be read as sounding less regretful than you intended, Livingston says. “It can be misinterpreted and misconstrued, even with the best of intentions.”

Step 2: Explain why you have to cancel the interview

Thank the interviewer for the time they’ve invested in your candidacy, and express your appreciation for being considered for the role. Then, say you need to cancel the interview.

Briefly explain why you need to cancel the interview. You only need to disclose as much information as you’re comfortable sharing, but it can be helpful to provide a reason behind the cancellation. Consider how you’d take it if someone canceled with you because they’re moving cities to take care of a family member, as opposed to canceling because of “personal circumstances.”

If you’re canceling the interview because you accepted another job offer, be honest and say that. You can say something like, “Unfortunately, I have accepted another job offer, but it’s been wonderful learning more about the company and I wish you all the best in your search.”

You don’t have to disclose where you’ll be working. If the interviewer asks, use your best judgment as to whether you want to share that information, Livingston says.

If the interviewer doesn’t answer your initial phone call, leave a voicemail, Livingston says. In your voicemail, first express your apologies and your appreciation for the opportunity. Then, tell them you have to cancel the interview.

After you finish your voicemail, you can send an email or text message (ideally both, if you have the interviewer’s cell phone number) and tell them you have to cancel the interview, according to Forbes. Include your reason concisely, and be sure to express your appreciation for their time and your apologies at having to cancel your interview.

Step 3: Ask to connect on LinkedIn or another platform

Express your appreciation for the opportunity, and apologize again for having to cancel the interview. Ask the interviewer if you can stay connected on LinkedIn, Livingston says.

Then, politely end the call and congratulate yourself for handling an uncomfortable situation.

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