By Debbie Holden 17 Oct 2019 5 min read

Should I cancel my job interview?


After weeks, perhaps months of searching for a job, the interviews are finally beginning to roll in. If you’ve got more than one, you might feel pretty amazing right now. 

At some point before the interview though, you might realise that you can’t, or don’t want to attend. 

We ran a survey recently with jobseekers in the motor trade to ask if any of them had ever cancelled a job interview. Out of 660 jobseekers, 11% said yes. 

Not being able to attend an interview can happen for many different reasons – if you’ve realised it’s not the job for you, then ultimately, it’s better that you know this now, so you don’t waste yours or the recruiter’s time participating in the rest of the process.

It’s true that cancelling an interview doesn’t look great, particularly if you’re not 100% sure you might need to revisit the company at a later point. You should never cancel an interview if you actually want the job, or if there’s the slightest chance you’re still interested in it. In this instance, you should reschedule as opposed to cancelling altogether. 

However, if you’re sure that this is the right move, then here are a few tips on how to cancel. We’ll also go through some of the reasons to or not to cancel, just in case you haven’t quite made up your mind…



Why you should avoid cancelling an interview

Cancelling an interview should never be an option if you’re still interested in the job. If you were ever to approach the company in question again, you will likely be remembered for deciding not to attend the interview. They would likely assume they were not your first choice and choose to consider a candidate who appears more passionately about them. 

If you’re late for an interview, always call up the employer to let them know. Don’t cancel it if you know you won’t make it on time – it’s very likely that they will either be happy to squeeze you in at a later time, or that they are happy to reschedule. Whatever reasons you have for cancelling, ask yourself is it truly the best option? Particularly if you have another job interview dangling in front of you – you could end up holding out for that job, and not being successful. If the other job you applied for is your first choice, simply reschedule the one you considered cancelling instead, so you have a back up. 

The consequences for cancelling an interview? Well you could end up looking highly unprofessional for one, and your unreliability will be a point again at you if you ever choose to apply to the same organisation again in future. That’s if you’re lucky enough to get a second interview – they might have already tossed your CV…


Good reasons to cancel an interview

There are good reasons, however, why you should cancel an interview. If you’ve had a better job offer for example, and you’re certain the other roles in your pipeline don’t compete, the interviewer will understand this.

In fact, 50% of job seekers who told us they;d cancelled an interview in the past said it was because they were offered another job.

Be honest with the interviewer about this – the motor trade is a competitive industry. If you’re what they consider to be top talent, they might fancy making you a counter offer to stop you from veering off – they’ll be keen to meet with you so that they can compete for you.

You might have heard some bad things about the company you’ve applied for, for example, a terrible company culture, bad overall reputation for their service, amongst other things. If you’re unsure that you’ll be happy there, this is definitely a reason not to attend the interview. Perhaps you feel the recruitment process has been sloppy, and there’s been a lot of waiting around on your part. If you don’t think they’ve taken you seriously as a candidate, move on. 

Other factors that might mean cancelling an interview might include having other obligations or genuine emergencies that will take up a larger period of your time at present, like problems with a family member, for example. Remember, you’ll be talking to another person on the phone. We all understand how difficult life can be at times.

You may have simply changed your mind. Perhaps you applied on a whim without researching much into the company or the role. Be honest that you don’t think you are the right fit for the job and wish them luck finding a top candidate. 

For some, the job you have applied for might be in another city, or even another country. Difficulties surrounding moving like money, family or other factors can all affect your decision to go ahead with such a huge change in your life. If this happens, it’s something an employer will understand. They might even be able to help you with your concerns – al you can do is be honest with them.

Now that we’ve been through reasons why you should/shouldn’t cancel an interview, let’s look at the best way to do it:


How do I cancel my interview?



The first thing to consider when cancelling an interview is whether you are giving the recruiter enough time to plan ahead. Cancelling an interview within a reasonable timeframe could allow the recruiter to interview another candidate in your original slot. So consider their needs if you decide it’s not the job for you, and give them a head start on finding someone who is. Giving at least 24 hours’ notice is a good start.


Call the interviewer

The working day is busy, and we all know that emails can’t be manned at all times. Consider how busy your interviewers’ day might be, and if you have their contact details, call them to cancel the interview instead of emailing them. Emails can easily get lost, and you will also receive a delayed response. Approach the situation with the urgency it deserves to allow your interviewer to make other arrangements following your cancellation. Don’t worry if they don’t answer the phone, simply leave a voicemail out of courtesy and move on. Then, proceed by putting together a small email reiterating the points above to the employer. It might go like this:

Dear Mr Harper,

I would like to thank you for accommodating me during your recruitment process, and I wanted to say I’m truly grateful for the opportunity you’ve provided me to interview for your company, for the role of Bodyshop Manager – 8596040.

Unfortunately, my circumstances have changed and I have been offered a job that I simply cannot turn down. I hope you understand that my feelings are that this is an opportunity not to be missed.

I would like to apologise for any inconvenience I have caused you following this news, but I do wish you all the best for the future in finding the right candidate for this position. Thank you once again for your time, I wish you well. 

Best wishes,

Gordon Pollitt



Apologising for inconveniencing another person is polite and considerate. Although it’s very likely the interviewer will understand, you’ve probably caused them a bit of extra work in finding someone else to interview, so it’s always good to acknowledge this, even if it;s not your fault. 


Thank them

Again, as far as consideration goes, you should thank the employer for taking the time out to speak with you and arrange to meet with you. It’s not easy to recruit top talent, they’ll have gone to a lot of effort to find you, and then fit you into their busy working day. 


Be honest about why

Although you won’t need to go into too much detail about why you’re cancelling your interview, try not to exaggerate or elaborate on why you won’t be attending. Yes, honesty is key, and if you reason is something as simple as accepting another job, that’s fine. But indulging in personal aspects of your life will make you appear unprofessional, and can put your credibility at risk. So hit the brakes and be brief when explaining why you’re not attending. 


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