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How to Cancel an Interview by Email

by Ruth Mayhew, studioD

Whether you're a hiring manager or a job candidate, scheduling conflicts and business demands take precedence, making it difficult or impossible to conduct an interview. An interview may have to be canceled when the hiring manager puts the job requisition on hold or the job candidate changes her mind. If you realize you can't conduct or attend the interview, let the other party know as soon as possible. Send a carefully written email if you cannot call or if you simply prefer to cancel the interview in writing.

Interviewer Scheduling Conflict

Confirm that you're unable to conduct the interview and review your calendar for alternate days and times. List the alternative choices to put in your email message.

Obtain the candidate's application materials to ensure you have accurate contact information and that you're writing to the candidate's personal email address, and not a business email address.

Compose a message that expresses your regret for the cancellation and provides alternative scheduling options. Put the title in the subject line of the message, followed by "reschedule, please," so the candidate knows immediately you want to conduct the interview another time. For example, if you have a scheduling conflict, you could write, "I have a scheduling conflict and must reschedule our interview, which was set for 2 p.m. on Monday, March 18, 2013. Please let me know if you are available for any of the times listed below. Thank you for your cooperation. I look forward to hearing from you."

Job Requisition Cancellation

Review the job requisition to confirm that it's been canceled. Determine the reason why the placement is being put on hold. You might be able to disclose the reason in your email to the candidate.

Get the applicant's application materials and ensure you have the accurate contact information for the candidate.

Insert the position title in the subject line, followed by "job order canceled." Write an email message to explain why you must cancel the interview and express your regret to the candidate. For example, you might say, "Thank you for your interest in joining the ABC Company team. Regrettably, our department is undergoing a downturn in staffing and we have canceled the software engineer position for which you were scheduled to interview at 2 p.m. on Monday, March 18, 2013. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. In the meantime, check our company's careers page for other opportunities for which you may be suited."

Candidate Cancellation

Confirm your interview time, the name of the recruiter who scheduled the meeting and the name and title of the hiring manager with whom you were to interview.

Draft your email to the hiring manager and the recruiter who scheduled the interview. Express your appreciation for the opportunity to interview and state that you were looking forward to the meeting. Let the interviewer know as soon as you know you must cancel. However, call the interviewer immediately if an urgent matter prevents you from showing up for the interview. Leave a voice mail and try to reach a live operator to leave a backup message if you can't reach the interviewer. Send an email cancellation if you have a smartphone and indicate that you're sending it from your phone. In every situation, always express your regret for canceling the interview.

Explain why you must cancel the meeting, whether it's because of a scheduling conflict or you've decided to discontinue your job search. Propose alternative dates when you'll be available and express your regret for having to cancel the appointment. Should you suddenly contract an illness that prevents you from attending the meeting, let the interviewer know as soon as possible, even if you must leave a voice mail before normal business hours. Send a confirmation email that references the time you left your voice mail message. If you have an illness, indicate you don't want to risk passing it on to others -- it's more considerate than saying you "don't feel well enough" to interview.

Disclose the specific reason if the interviewer knew you were considering other employers. For example, you could write, "Thank you for your favorable consideration of my qualifications for the software engineer position. The purpose of this email is to cancel our interview set for 2 p.m. on Monday, March 18, 2013. I recently accepted another offer and am, therefore, discontinuing my job search. Again, I appreciate your time and interest."


  • If your email client has such a feature, check the box for confirmation of delivery and return receipt requested for your records. Alternatively, ask the recipient to confirm receipt with a brief reply.
  • If you're a sought-after candidate and explain that you're suspending your job search, expect to hear from either the recruiter or hiring manager about your decision.


  • Avoid sending a curt message that simply says you want to cancel the interview, with no explanation why and nothing to express your appreciation for the hiring manager's or candidate's interest. Demonstrate professional courtesy in your communication because you never know when your paths might cross again.

About the Author

Ruth Mayhew began writing in 1985. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry" and "Human Resources Managers Appraisal Schemes." Mayhew earned senior professional human resources certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute and holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Photo Credits

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