When you have an appointment for a job interview and you can’t make it, what should you do? Sometimes life happens – a child or other family member may become ill, you may have a suddenly conflicting work obligation at your current job, or your car might have decided to break down the morning of the interview. The answer depends on whether you have decided you don’t want the job after all and want to cancel completely, or if you want to simply reschedule for another date and time.

How to Cancel a Job Interview

In either case, it’s important to let the employer know as soon as possible that you’re not going to be able to make it to your interview appointment. If at all possible, don’t wait until the last minute. Let the employer know as soon as you’re aware you can’t make it.

 The interviewer’s time is valuable, and another applicant can be scheduled in the time slot you’re giving up. You also want to stay on good terms with the employer in case you want to reschedule or if another job opens up with the company that’s a better fit for you.

When You Don’t Want to Reschedule

If you have decided that you’re truly not interested in the position after all, and you don’t want to go to the interview, it is common courtesy to let the interviewer know that you have withdrawn your candidacy for the position. Think carefully, though, about your reasons for declining the interview – if you aren’t 100% sure whether or not you’d want the job, it’s generally better to attend the interview as a “fact finding” mission.

Should you decide that there’s no way you’d want the job (or if you’ve decided to accept another job offer), call or email the person who scheduled the interview to let them know that you are not going to attend the interview. Provide as much notice as possible. There’s no need to give a reason or an explanation.

There are a couple of reasons why it’s important to let the interviewer know you won’t make it. First of all, it’s good manners. Secondly, if you simply don’t show up or give very short notice, you are burning your bridges with the company and won’t have any chance of getting hired by them in the future. Finally, because interviews are business transactions, you need to leave the “conversation” in as professional a manner as possible. Hiring managers can and do share information about their candidate pools with other local employers as a gesture of good will – sometimes if they can’t hire a candidate that has impressed them, they’ll forward their name to another employer who might be trying to fill a similar position.