Five good reasons to cancel an interview

Cancelling an interview can be a pretty awkward experience…

No matter how much you really want a role, sometimes extenuating circumstances can get in the way of making it to an interview. But if you want employers to be understanding, there’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to let them know.

To make sure you don’t burn any bridges, here are five good reasons to cancel an interview:

  1. You can’t get there

Let’s face it, transport isn’t always reliable.

Whether you go by plane, train, or automobile (or you know, something that’s not in the title of a film), there are many unforeseen factors that can interfere with your journey.

And unless you’ve just invented the very first lightning speed transportation device, they’re almost always out of your control.

So if your car’s broken down last minute, you’re stuck in traffic, or a train has derailed just in time for your interview – don’t panic. As long as you let the interviewer know as early as possible, and you’re honest and professional, they should be happy to hold on a little longer – or even rearrange.

Interviewers are human too. And for all you know they might be stuck on the same train…


  1. You’re not feeling well

If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to ruin your chances of getting the job, it’s throwing up on the interviewer’s shoes.

So if you’ve come down with something that closely resembles the plague (and/or another dramatic sounding illness) – don’t be a hero. Call and reschedule instead.

Turning up to an interview sick could also risk you passing your germs onto your potential employer – not to mention hindering your own performance. Because nobody does their best interviews when they’re ill.

Other off-putting illnesses to stay in bed for: an overly sneezy cold, chicken pox, a hernia (because Joey from Friends isn’t always right).


  1. You have an emergency

Emergencies come up at the worst of times.

Unfortunately, this can often be before an interview. Whether you’re dealing with a family crisis or you’ve just been locked out of your house – unexpected events can take their toll on your emotions, and also on your time.

The good news is, cancelling an interview for a genuine emergency is usually well received, and it won’t be the cause of burned bridges (after all, it’s not your fault).

Just remember: never overshare or exaggerate about what’s caused you to cancel. They want someone to fight for the job, not for the sympathy vote…

N.B. a bad hair day does not count as an emergency.


  1. You’ve got another job offer

Accepting another job is a perfectly acceptable reason to cancel an interview.

Not only will you save yours and the recruiter’s time, you’ll also be able to explain your reasoning in a polite and professional manner – which will ultimately avoid any hard feelings in the future.

In other words, it definitely beats leading them on.

And with most employers having a large number of candidates to interview, they might even be able to work the extra time slot in their favour.


  1. You realised the job isn’t right for you

Jobseeking can induce the desperation in all of us.

And to boost your chances of landing a job, it can be tempting to apply for absolutely everything – without properly ascertaining the suitability of each role.

This can result in being invited to an interview for a job which (after a bit of research), you realise you don’t really want. Whether it’s that your skills and experience don’t match, or you don’t think it’ll take you where you want to go in your career – some roles just aren’t worth pursuing.

So if you’ve been invited to interview for a job you’re not sure about, cancelling it is the best option. Because going ‘just for the sake of it’ isn’t the best use of anyone’s time…


Final thoughts

Although there are many good reasons to cancel an interview – there are also a lot of bad ones.

To make sure you’re always painting yourself in the most professional light, always be careful of what you say, and how you say it. Exaggerating, oversharing, or lying will never end well. And neither will not turning up without any explanation.

Because even if you don’t think you want the job, you might be surprised at how your attitude could affect your opportunities in the future. And trust us: in recruitment, word gets around.

However, as long as you notify the employer in advance, avoid lying, and ask to reschedule if you’re still interested, there’s really no reason they should hold it against you

Do it right, and everyone involved (including you) will be better off.

Eight signs an employer is not the one


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