Interview Cancellation: How To Cancel An Interview Without Burning Bridges?

12 min readSep 18, 2023


In the dynamic world of job hunting, unforeseen circumstances may occasionally arise, leading to the need to cancel an interview. But. How to cancel an interview in a polite and professional manner? While it is natural to worry about burning bridges or causing inconvenience, there are tactful ways to navigate through the process without jeopardizing professional relationships.

In this article, we will explore various strategies and tips on gracefully handling an interview cancellation while demonstrating empathy towards both employers and yourself. Whether you unexpectedly landed another opportunity or encountered a personal setback, our insightful guidance will ensure that canceling an interview doesn’t leave a lasting negative impression but instead strengthens your overall reputation as a considerate professional in today’s competitive job market.

Is It Bad To Cancel An Interview?

  • Canceling an interview is generally not ideal and can leave a negative impression on the employer.
  • It shows a lack of commitment and professionalism, potentially damaging your reputation.
  • Employers invest time and resources to schedule interviews, so canceling last minute can inconvenience them significantly.
  • However, if you have a genuine reason for canceling and handle the situation professionally, it may be possible to minimize any negative impact.

Understanding the Importance of Proper Communication

Communication is crucial in maintaining professional relationships and avoiding unnecessary animosity. When canceling an interview, it is essential to understand the impact it can have on both your reputation and the hiring manager’s perception of you.

  1. First Impressions Matter: Canceling an interview without proper communication can give off a negative impression by demonstrating a lack of professionalism and respect for others’ time. This could potentially damage your chances with that company in the future.
  2. Consider the Other Party: Being empathetic towards the hiring manager means understanding that they have invested time and resources into scheduling the interview process. Communicating effectively shows your consideration for their efforts and portrays you as someone who values professional relationships.
  3. Maintaining Integrity: Properly communicating your interview cancellation saves time and shows integrity on your part — a quality valued by potential employers. Whether it’s due to personal reasons or other job opportunities, being honest and succinct about why you need to cancel portrays you as trustworthy and dependable.
Two professionals talking sit on a round table.
Proper communication is always important

By prioritizing effective communication when canceling interviews, you display professionalism, empathy, and integrity — traits that will allow bridges to remain unburned even if this particular opportunity isn’t pursued further.

Assessing the Validity of the Cancellation

Before canceling an interview, it is crucial to assess the validity of your decision. Ask yourself if there are any valid reasons that warrant cancelation. Some common valid reasons include a sudden illness, personal emergency, or unexpected scheduling conflict. It is important to consider whether rescheduling would be feasible and appropriate in these situations.

If you have carefully evaluated your situation and determined that cancellation is necessary, consider its potential impact on your professional reputation. Consider how canceling might affect future opportunities with the hiring company or others within your industry. Strive to handle cancellations with professionalism and respect for the time and effort invested by both parties.

Remember that honesty and clear communication are key when assessing whether a cancellation is truly warranted. If you contemplate canceling an interview for less valid reasons, such as a lack of interest or desire for another opportunity, consider exploring other options before making a final decision.

Promptness: The Key to a Respectful Cancellation

Canceling an interview can be nerve-wracking and uncomfortable, but it is important to handle the situation respectfully. One of the most crucial aspects of canceling an interview is promptness. Be sure to communicate your cancellation as soon as possible, giving the hiring manager ample time to adjust their schedule. This not only shows respect for their time but also allows them the opportunity to fill your spot with another candidate.

Considerate Communication

When canceling an interview, choose your words carefully and ensure that your message conveys sincerity and regret. Express appreciation for the opportunity given while also providing a valid reason for cancelation if available (such as unavoidable personal circumstances or unexpected professional commitments). Keep the explanation concise yet clear, avoiding unnecessary details that may overshadow the main message. Lastly, apologize genuinely for any inconvenience caused by your cancellation.

Rescheduling Options

If you are still interested in pursuing opportunities with this company despite needing to reschedule, mention this in your cancellation message. Offer alternative dates or times when you would be available for a rescheduled interview. Demonstrating flexibility and eagerness indicates that even though you had to cancel this particular meeting, you value their consideration and remain interested in moving forward with them.

How To Cancel An Interview

1) Choose the Right Communication Method

Choosing an appropriate and professional communication method is crucial when canceling an interview. Here are some options to consider:

  1. Phone Call: Calling the hiring manager directly shows respect and allows for immediate feedback or rescheduling possibilities.
  2. Email: Sending a well-written email ensures that your message is communicated clearly and gives both parties time to process the cancellation.
  3. Professional Networking Platforms: If you have been communicating with the employer through platforms like LinkedIn, it can be suitable to cancel through these channels as well in a polite and concise message.

Remember, regardless of which method you choose, always keep in mind proper etiquette by expressing genuine regret for any inconvenience caused while maintaining professionalism throughout your communication.

2) Craft a Polite and Apologetic Message

When canceling an interview, it’s essential to approach the situation with politeness and empathy. Here are some tips on how to write a message that conveys your regret while maintaining professionalism:

  1. Be sincere: Start by expressing genuine remorse for having to cancel the interview.
  2. Keep it concise: Be concise in explaining why you need to cancel without going into unnecessary details.
  3. Offer alternatives or assistance: If possible, suggest rescheduling options or offer help in finding a suitable replacement candidate.

Using these pointers will ensure that your cancellation message is polite, respectful, and capable of preserving professional relationships even if you cannot attend the interview as planned.

Remember that cancellations happen occasionally due to unforeseen circumstances; what matters most is how you handle the situation with considerate communication.

3) Suggest Alternative Solutions (if available)

  • Offer to reschedule: If possible, propose a new date and time for the interview. Express your sincere interest in the opportunity and explain any pressing circumstances that have led to the cancellation. This shows your professionalism and willingness to accommodate their needs.
  • Recommend a video or phone interview: If distance or travel is the main issue, suggest conducting the interview remotely via video conference or phone call. Assure them that this alternative method will still provide effective communication and allow for a thorough discussion.
  • Volunteer references or contacts: If you are canceling due to finding another job opportunity, consider referring potential candidates to fill your position. Offering suggested contacts or references can demonstrate your commitment to helping prospective employers find suitable alternatives while showcasing your thoughtfulness toward their needs.
A women typing on her computer illustrating someone preparing for a remote interview
A remote interview can be a practical solution for a reschedule.

By proposing these alternative solutions, you show empathy towards both parties involved and mitigate any negative impact caused by canceling the interview.

4) Express Appreciation for the Opportunity

Here are some ways to express appreciation:

Thank you very much for considering me for the interview. I am truly grateful for the chance to showcase my skills and qualifications.

I appreciate the opportunity you gave me to be considered for this position. It means a lot to me that you saw potential in my application and invited me to interview with your company.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude for granting me this opportunity, as it shows that you value my experience and expertise.

Overall, I am grateful that you allowed me to participate in this interview process. Thanking you once again for considering me as a candidate.

5) Provide a Brief Explanation

Give ample notice

If you need to cancel an interview, it is important to give ample notice. This shows respect for the interviewer’s time and allows them to make alternative arrangements if necessary.

Be honest but tactful

When providing an explanation for canceling the interview, it’s crucial to be honest but tactful. If your reason is personal or confidential, simply state that unforeseen circumstances have arisen that prevent you from attending the interview. Avoid going into elaborate details or making excuses.

Express genuine regret and appreciation

Conveying genuine regret and appreciation in your cancellation message can help maintain a positive impression with the interviewer. Apologize sincerely for any inconvenience caused by your cancellation and express gratitude for their understanding.

By following these tips, you can cancel an interview without burning bridges and leave a professional impression despite being unable to attend. Remember, treating others with empathy and consideration goes a long way in maintaining positive relationships in the professional world.

6) Take Responsibility for the Inconvenience

  1. Apologize sincerely: Begin your cancellation message by expressing genuine regret for the inconvenience caused.
  2. Acknowledge their time: Recognize that the interviewer and company have likely invested time in reviewing your application and scheduling the interview, so it’s important to acknowledge and appreciate their efforts.
  3. Take ownership of the situation: Admit that canceling is not ideal but emphasize that unforeseen circumstances arose that require you to reschedule or withdraw from the interview.
  4. Offer an explanation (if appropriate): If possible, provide a brief explanation for why you need to cancel, such as a personal or family emergency, illness, sudden work assignment, etc.
  5. Express gratitude again: Thank them once more for considering your application and apologize for any disruption caused.

Remember to keep your tone empathetic throughout this section to show understanding and consideration towards the interviewer and company.

7) Offer to Reschedule (if desired)

We completely understand if circumstances change or you simply need more time to prepare. We want to make things as convenient for you as possible. If you would like to reschedule the interview, please let us know at your earliest convenience.

  • We value your interest in our company and are eager to explore how you may contribute.
  • Should another date work better for you, we have various options available.
  • Please don’t hesitate to reach out if rescheduling is something that interests you.

8) Follow Up with a Thank You Note

Once you have canceled the interview, following up with a thank you note is essential. Express your appreciation for the opportunity to interview and apologize for any inconvenience caused by your cancellation. Keep the note brief and to the point, acknowledging that their time is valuable.

How to cancel an interview? One of the steps is to appreciate the opportunity and send a thank you note.
Send a thank you note for the interviewer
  • Start by expressing gratitude: Begin your note by thanking the interviewer for considering you for the position and taking time out of their schedule.
  • Apologize sincerely: Acknowledge any inconvenience caused by canceling the interview and express regret for any disruption in their plans.
  • Keep it concise: Remember to keep the thank you note short but genuine, focusing on showing appreciation without going into excessive detail.

Sending a well-crafted thank you note demonstrates professionalism and leaves a positive impression even after canceling an interview. It shows respect for others’ time and consideration, increasing your chances of maintaining a good relationship with the hiring company.

9) Maintain Professionalism in Every Interaction

  • Be prompt: When canceling an interview, it’s important to do so as soon as you know you won’t be able to attend. This shows respect for the interviewer’s time and allows them to make alternate arrangements.
  • Communicate respectfully: Use a polite and professional tone when contacting the interviewer. Express your gratitude for their consideration and explain the reason behind your cancellation without going into too much detail.
  • Offer alternatives, if possible: If rescheduling is an option for you, suggest some alternative dates or times that could work. This demonstrates your willingness to still engage with the company despite the cancellation.

Remember, whether it is over email or phone conversation, maintaining professionalism throughout this process will leave a positive impression on the employer.

Rebuilding the Relationship after the Cancellation

Unfortunately, interview cancellations happen occasionally and can strain relationships. However, you can take steps to rebuild the connection and leave a positive impression for future professional network opportunities.

  1. Apologize sincerely: Reach out to the interviewer with a genuine apology for canceling. Acknowledge the inconvenience caused and express regret for any inconvenience or disruption it may have caused.
  2. Offer alternatives: Show your commitment by suggesting alternative ways to connect, such as rescheduling the interview, participating in a phone call instead of an in-person meeting, or even offering to provide more information via email if applicable.
  3. Express continued interest: Reinforce your enthusiasm for the position by reiterating your interest in working with their company or organization despite the setback.
  4. Update them on improvements: If there were specific reasons for cancellation (personal emergency, sickness), let them know that you are doing better now and ready to move forward with the application process.

Remember, how you handle cancellations can demonstrate your professionalism and ability to handle unforeseen circumstances effectively — qualities employers value.

Avoiding Last-Minute Cancellations

How to Avoid Last-Minute Cancellations

When it comes to canceling an interview, it’s important to do so with professionalism and empathy. Here are a few tips on how to avoid last-minute cancellations:

  1. Plan ahead: Take the time to carefully consider your schedule before committing to an interview. Avoid scheduling conflicts by double-checking your calendar and ensuring that you have enough time available for the interview.
  2. Communicate promptly: If unexpected circumstances arise and you must cancel, let the interviewer know as soon as possible. Open lines of communication are key to maintaining good professional relationships.
  3. Be honest but concise: When explaining your cancellation reason, be truthful without oversharing unnecessary details or making excuses. A simple statement expressing regret for having to cancel will suffice.

Remember, while emergencies happen and sometimes cancellations cannot be avoided, being proactive in planning ahead can help minimize any inconveniences caused by last-minute changes.

How To Cancel An Interview Via Email?

How to Cancel an Interview via Email?

  1. Be prompt: When canceling an interview, it is crucial to notify the interviewer as soon as possible. Sending a cancellation email promptly shows respect for their time and allows them to make alternative arrangements.
  2. Keep it concise: Craft a brief and straightforward email stating your need to cancel the interview. Start by expressing gratitude for the opportunity and acknowledge that circumstances have changed, preventing you from attending.
  3. Apologize sincerely: Show empathy in your email by offering a genuine apology for any inconvenience caused by your cancellation. It’s important to communicate that you understand the impact this may have on their schedule or hiring process.
  4. Provide context if necessary: If appropriate, briefly explain why you are unable to attend the interview without going into too much detail or providing unnecessary personal information.
  5. Express interest in future opportunities: Convey your continued interest in working with the company despite having to cancel this specific interview appointment. Mention that you would appreciate being considered for other openings should they arise.

Template Email To Cancel An Interview As A Job Searcher

Email to Cancel an Interview

Dear [Interviewer’s Name],

I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to reach out and inform you that I will unfortunately need to cancel our scheduled interview for the [Job Title] position on [Interview Date].

Due to unforeseen circumstances, my availability has changed, and I can no longer attend the interview as planned. I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

I genuinely appreciate the opportunity you have given me, and although it is disappointing that we won’t be able to meet in person at this time, I would like to express my interest in potentially rescheduling or reconsidering in the future if opportunities arise.

Once again, please accept my apologies for any disruption caused by this cancellation. Thank you for your understanding.

Best regards, [Your Name]

Points to Consider:

  • Be polite and respectful throughout the email.
  • Apologize for any inconvenience caused.
  • Express continued interest in future opportunities or potential rescheduling of the interview.

How To Cancel An Interview As An Employer?

Prioritize Communication and Respect

When canceling an interview with an employer, it is crucial to prioritize communication and respect. Clearly articulate the reason for canceling and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused. Offering a brief explanation can help the candidate understand the situation and foster goodwill in case of future opportunities.

Provide Timely Notice

To minimize disruption to candidates, provide timely notice when canceling an interview. Aim to notify candidates at least 24 to 48 hours in advance whenever possible. This allows them ample time to adjust their schedules accordingly or make alternative arrangements if needed.

Offer Alternatives or Future Consideration

While canceling may be unavoidable, consider offering alternatives or future considerations to demonstrate your commitment to maintaining positive relationships with potential hires. Suggest rescheduling options if appropriate, or express interest in considering them for other roles within your organization that may be a better fit.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, handling an interview cancellation with grace and empathy is crucial in maintaining professional relationships and preserving your own self-worth. You may understand the perspectives of employers/applicants and their challenges. By doing that, you can respond in a considerate manner while valuing your time and efforts. Communicate clearly, express understanding, and offer alternative solutions when possible.

Remember that unforeseen circumstances happen to all parties involved, so approaching cancellations with empathy will reflect positively on your character and increase the likelihood of future opportunities. So next time an interview gets canceled, take a deep breath, respond with kindness, and keep forging ahead towards success.




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