How to Cancel a Job Interview | Full Guide

how to cancel a job interview

You finally get a call back from that company with a job interview offer for your dream role. But as the date for the interview approaches, the butterflies flutter, your palms sweat, and then…bam! Reality throws a curveball, and that coveted interview suddenly feels like a hot coal in your hand. Now you are searching for how to cancel a job interview.

Before you ghost them like a bad date, take a deep breath. Learn how to professionally say “no.” Equip yourself with the tools to navigate this delicate situation with professionalism and leave a lasting impression that could even open doors in the future. The goal here is not to burn bridges, instead, we should be building them with honesty, respect, and a dash of savvy communication.

So, channel your inner diplomat. In this guide, we will discuss how to turn down a job interview, how to manage the consequences of canceling an interview, and other alternatives to canceling.

When Should I Consider Canceling a Job Interview?

When do you consider declining or canceling a job interview? Let’s see some scenarios when you can consider turning down a job interview:

Legitimate Reasons to Say No:

  • The Golden Offer: You’ve snagged your dream job elsewhere! Congratulations! While it’s tempting to ghost, remember, burning bridges never bodes well in the professional world. A polite cancellation followed by well wishes for the company demonstrates your class and leaves the door open for future opportunities.
  • Life’s Crossroads: Sometimes, unforeseen circumstances like a personal emergency or health issue take precedence. In these situations, transparency and honesty are key. Explain your situation briefly and offer apologies for any inconvenience. After all, your well-being comes first.
  • The Not-So-Perfect Fit: After further research, the role or company no longer aligns with your values or career goals. It’s perfectly okay to say no at this stage. Express your appreciation for the opportunity and politely decline, explaining that the position isn’t the right fit for you at this time.

Unacceptable Excuses to Avoid:

  • The Flake: “Sorry, I forgot all about the interview!” is not a good look. Lack of preparation or organization reflects poorly on your professionalism. If you need to reschedule, be proactive and communicate clearly.
  • The Ghost: Simply disappearing without a word leaves a negative impression and burns bridges. Even a brief email expressing your regret for having to withdraw goes a long way in maintaining your reputation.
  • The Wishy-Washy: “I’m not sure… maybe?” creates unnecessary confusion for the company. Be decisive and communicate your decision clearly, whether it’s a definitive no or a request for more time to consider.

Every situation is unique, and the decision to cancel or decline requires careful consideration. Weigh the potential inconvenience caused to the company against the reasons for your withdrawal.

See also: 20 Frequently Asked Air Force Interview Questions & Answers PDF

How to Cancel a Job Interview

What happens when the once coveted job no longer aligns with your career goals or there is an emergency to handle? Well, you’d need to master the delicate art of canceling or declining a job interview. No need to break into a cold sweat – this comprehensive guide will equip you with the tools to navigate this experience with grace and professionalism.

Timing is Everything

So, you’ve scored an interview for that coveted marketing role, only to receive a surprise invitation to your dream company’s open house the same day. Talk about career crossroads! In such instances, timeliness is key. Ideally, aim to cancel at least 24-48 hours before the interview. Your promptness minimizes disruption for the company and showcases your respect for their valuable time.

The Phone Call vs. the Email

Technology offers a spectrum of communication options, but when it comes to sensitive matters like interview cancellations, a personal phone call is advisable. The warmth of your voice and the sincerity of your apology speak volumes compared to the often professional nature of an email. Of course, unforeseen circumstances might necessitate an email (also for documentation); just ensure it follows up a prompt phone call and conveys your genuine regret.

See also: 20+ Frequently Asked PTDF Interview Questions

The Power of Politeness

Imagine receiving a curt, one-line email canceling an interview. Not exactly a stellar impression, right? Begin your call or email with a sincere apology, acknowledging the inconvenience caused. Phrases like “I’m truly sorry for any disruption this may cause” and “I deeply appreciate your time and consideration” set the tone for a respectful and professional interaction.

Choose Honesty

While white lies might tempt you in the face of an awkward situation, resist the urge. Briefly explain the reason for your withdrawal, without venturing into unnecessary detail. A simple “I received an offer I couldn’t refuse” or “A personal emergency has arisen” suffices. Honesty fosters trust and leaves the door open for future opportunities.

Explore the Possibility of Rescheduling

Perhaps your decision stems from a temporary conflict or a need for more time to consider the offer. In such cases, explore the possibility of rescheduling. Propose alternative dates or times, demonstrating your genuine interest in the role while respecting the company’s schedule. Flexibility can turn a cancellation into a future connection.

How to Turn Down a Job Interview Examples

The art of declining an interview isn’t about cookie-cutter templates. Each situation demands a nuanced approach. Here are some personalized examples to inspire you:

How to Turn Down a Job Interview When You Received A Dream Offer

“Dear [Interviewer name],

I’m writing with both excitement and regret. I recently accepted an offer at another company that aligns perfectly with my long-term career goals. While I’m thrilled about this opportunity, I wanted to personally apologize for any inconvenience caused by canceling our interview.

Thank you for your time and consideration, and I wish you all the best in finding the perfect candidate.”

How to Turn Down a Job Interview When There is a Personal Emergency Case

“Dear [Interviewer name],

I’m so sorry to do this, but I regretfully need to cancel our interview tomorrow due to a sudden personal emergency. I understand this is short notice, and I sincerely apologize for any disruption. I would be grateful if we could reschedule for a later date if that’s possible.”

How To Cancel a Job Interview Because of The Not-So-Perfect Fit Dilemma

“Dear [Interviewer name],

Thank you so much for inviting me to interview for the [position name] role. After careful consideration and further research, I believe this position isn’t quite the right fit for my current career goals. I truly appreciate your time and the opportunity to learn more about your company.

I wish you the best of luck in finding the ideal candidate.”

How Do I Manage the Consequences of Turning Down a Job Interview?

You’ve done the delicate dance of canceling or declining a job interview with poise. You’ve crafted the perfect phone call, penned the most sincere email, and left a positive impression despite the unexpected turn of events. But the journey doesn’t end there. The next step is managing the potential consequences and ensuring you leave a lasting impression that fosters future opportunities.

See also: 30 Frequently Asked Interview Questions For Marketers

Facing the Fear of Negative Impressions

The thought of burning bridges after declining an interview can send shivers down anyone’s spine. But fret not! Remember, professionalism, honesty, and timely communication go a long way in mitigating any negative impressions. While canceling an interview can feel awkward, it’s important to remember that most companies understand that unexpected situations arise. As long as you handle the situation professionally and respectfully, you’ll likely avoid burning any bridges.

Building Bridges for Future Opportunities

Though you’ve chosen a different path, the door to that company can remain open. Maintaining a positive relationship is key. Here are some ways to foster goodwill:

  • Express your continued interest in the company: Briefly mention your appreciation for the opportunity and the company itself, even if you’re declining the particular role.
  • Offer to stay connected: Suggest staying in touch through LinkedIn or email updates so you can learn about future opportunities that might be a better fit.
  • Provide genuine feedback: If it feels appropriate, offer constructive feedback on the interview process or the role itself. This shows proactive engagement and genuine interest in the company’s success.

Responding to Follow-Up Inquiries with Poise

Don’t be surprised if the company reaches out for clarification or confirmation of your cancellation. Handle these inquiries with the same professionalism as your initial communication. Briefly reiterate your apologies for any inconvenience and reiterate your reason for declining, without going into unnecessary detail. A simple “Thank you for understanding. I wish you all the best in finding the perfect candidate” demonstrates respect and leaves a positive final impression.

What are the Alternatives to Canceling a Job Interview?

Before sending that apology email, explore these creative alternatives that might salvage the situation and preserve your professional image:

Phone a Friend (Instead of Canceling)

I remember that nerve-wracking interview for my first graphic design role! The office was two hours away, and my car sputtered its last protest the evening before. Panic surged – cancel and risk burning bridges?

I took a deep breath, called the interviewer, and explained my predicament. To my surprise, they offered a phone interview! Not only did I secure the job, but I also impressed them with my initiative and honesty. Sometimes, a genuine explanation and a willingness to find a solution can strengthen your candidacy instead of weakening it.

Propose a Possible Delay

Life throws curveballs, and sometimes even the most coveted interview clashes with an unavoidable commitment. Instead of resorting to a straight-up cancellation, explore a delay. Contact the interviewer early, explain your situation honestly, and propose a revised timeline.

Offer alternative dates and times, showing flexibility and respect for their schedule. It’s always better to proactively seek a solution than passively cancel.

Transparency Wins

Anticipating technical difficulties during your virtual interview? Don’t wait for the meltdown – inform the company beforehand! Explain your potential internet challenges and suggest alternative communication methods like a phone line backup.

While transparency might seem daunting, it demonstrates preparedness and respect. Remember that open communication builds trust and strengthens relationships, even in unexpected situations.

See also: 20 Frequently Asked Nigerian Air Force Interview Questions and Answers


My interview is tomorrow, but I got sick! Should I cancel last minute?

Honesty is always the best policy. Briefly explain your illness to the interviewer as soon as possible, express your regret for any inconvenience, and offer to reschedule. If you’re concerned about appearing unreliable, consider proposing a phone interview instead of in-person.

I landed my dream job elsewhere. How do I cancel without burning bridges?

Congratulations! Express your sincere gratitude for the opportunity and highlight your excitement about the other offer. Briefly explain your decision without going into unnecessary detail. Offer to stay connected and express your interest in future opportunities that might be a better fit.

I’m not interested in the role anymore after researching the company. Can I just ghost them?

Never ghost! A brief email or phone call explaining your changed interest is crucial. Thank them for their time and apologize for any inconvenience. It maintains your professionalism and preserves your reputation.

I have conflicting schedules. Can I delay the interview by a week?

Open communication is key. Contact the interviewer as soon as possible, explain your situation genuinely, and propose alternative dates and times. Flexibility demonstrates respect and might even strengthen your candidacy.

I’m worried about technical glitches during my virtual interview. What should I do?

Be transparent! Inform the company beforehand about potential internet issues and suggest alternative communication methods like a phone line backup. Proactive solutions showcase your preparedness and build trust.


Canceling or declining respectfully isn’t a misstep. It’s a responsible choice that prioritizes honesty and your career path. When you own your decision, communicate with grace, and demonstrate professionalism, you leave a positive impression that builds bridges, not burns them. Explore the power of a polite “no” with confidence, knowing it strengthens your journey toward finding the perfect opportunity.


  • – How to Cancel an Interview (With Email Examples)
  • – How To Cancel A Job Interview (With Examples)