The Right Way to Cancel an Interview (With Tips and Templates)

Woman on the Phone


AnnaMarie Houlis
AnnaMarie Houlis

So you want to cancel a job interview after you've already said yes to the invite. Hey, it happens! Maybe something unexpected came up or you realized the role just doesn’t align with your career goals. Whatever the reason, there’s no need to burn bridges in the process. You might want to work for this company in the future and besides, it’s a small world. You don’t need this hiring manager telling everyone they know (read: hiring managers at other companies) how rudely you blew them off.

Below we’ll go through scenarios when you should go ahead and cancel an interview, potential consequences, tips to do it politely and professionally, and templates you can copy and paste to make it all that much easier. 

Why should you cancel an interview? 

It's OK to cancel an interview if you're confident this isn’t a job you’re interested in pursuing. But take a beat to make sure you’re sure. Here are just a few common scenarios when it makes sense to cancel an interview:

1. You’ve accepted another job offer. 

When it comes to job searching, the initial goal is to get to the interview process. And you did — at multiple great companies! If you’ve accepted a job offer that excites you more than the others, it’s important to be transparent and inform the other companies you’ve been communicating with that you’ve been scooped up. 

2. You’re sick or have another emergency. 

Maybe you lost your voice and can’t get more than a raspy squeak out or you had to fly out-of-state to care for a parent or there’s some other pressing issue that means you just can’t make the scheduled interview. You don't necessarily want to bow out of the process entirely but you have to cancel this interview and ask for a rain check. 

3. Your plans have changed. 

Life happens fast and with that, plans often change. For example, your partner may have accepted a job across the country and you’ll be moving soon. If you’ve scheduled an interview you were genuinely excited about, it may be worth asking the company if there’s any flexibility in the position. Whether that be about how you work, where you work or otherwise. But sometimes you really just need to step away from a process — and that’s OK. 

4. The job doesn’t align with your career goals. 

Muse career coach Yolanda Owens previously told The Muse that she often has clients who hear from companies they applied to months ago when they were going after“anything and everything.” You might’ve realized since then that you’re competitive for more senior-level roles or otherwise pivoted your search, says Owens, founder of CareerSensei Consulting and a former recruiter. Or maybe you applied recently but realized after doing your research that this role or company won’t help you get where you want to go. If you’re 100% sure this is the case, it’s best to move toward opportunities that are a better fit for you right now. 

Potential consequences of canceling an interview

  • You’ll look unprofessional. If you send a rude message, for example, or wait till 20 minutes before your scheduled meeting and dash off an opaque, “Sorry, can’t make it!” canceling the interview could have a negative effect on your reputation.
  • You may not get a second chance. No matter how legitimate your reasons are, you should be aware that canceling an interview might mean the company won’t call on you again — either for this role or others in the future. It may not be fair, but that’s the reality. 

3 tips to politely canceling an interview. 

The best thing you can do to preserve your reputation and a positive relationship with this interviewer and company is to send a thoughtful note. Here’s how. 

1. Let your interviewer know ASAP.

Once you’ve made your final decision, be prompt and  give the interviewer as much warning as possible. And if you think you’ll ever want to reach out to this person in the future, personalize your email as advised by The Muse. You never want to close the door to future opportunities. 

2. Express gratitude. 

Whether this was supposed to be an initial interview or you’re already multiple rounds in, thank the person you’re writing to for considering you for the role. Remember that just as you took time to put together a stellar application, they took time to sift through the pile of apps, identify promising candidates, and reach out to speak with you. Acknowledging the effort they put in will go a long way in leaving a positive impression. 

3. Be brief about your reasoning.

You don't owe anyone a detailed explanation — and in fact, it does no one any good for you to ramble about how you’re not into half the job duties or how great this other offer you got will be for your career. Keep it brief and don’t give in to the instinct to overshare or overexplain. 

4 templates for canceling an interview. 

If it’s not the right fit for you… 

Dear [Name],

Thank you so much for taking the time to consider me for the [position] role at [Organization]. However, I’ve decided to go in a different direction at this time.

I look forward to continuing to follow [Organization’s] success in [what the organization specializes in]. 

I hope to stay in touch in case there is another opportunity to work together in the future. 

[Your Name]

If you accepted another job offer… 

Hi [Name], 

Thank you so much for taking the time to review my application for the [position] role at [Organization]. However, I have recently accepted an offer from another company. 

I’d love to keep in touch and if anything changes in the future, I’ll certainly reach out to see if there’s an opportunity for us to work together. 

Thank you again, 

[Your Name]

If your plans have changed… 

Hi [Name], 

Thank you so much for inviting me to interview for the [position] role at [Organization]. However, since confirming our interview, my circumstances have changed and I have to respectfully withdraw my application. 

I’d love to stay in touch and hope there might be another chance for me to work for [Organization] in the future. 

Thank you again for your time and consideration,

[Your Name]

If you’re hoping to reschedule… 

Hi [Name], 

I’m looking forward to talking about the [position] role at [Organization]! 

Unfortunately, I need to reschedule our meeting due to [brief reason you have to reschedule]. Please let me know if this is at all possible. I am available to talk on [two to three other days and times that work for you]. 

I’m sorry for the last-minute change but I hope that we can connect soon to discuss this exciting opportunity. 

Thank you, 

[Your Name]


This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist for a gamut of both online and print publications, as well as an adventure aficionado and travel blogger at She covers all things women's empowerment — from navigating the workplace to navigating the world. She writes about everything from gender issues in the workforce to gender issues all across the globe.

Fairygodboss editors contributed writing, reporting, and/or advice to this article.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for canceling interviews? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!