How soon is too soon to cancel an interview?

Interviewing for a new job can be an exciting yet stressful experience. You spend time preparing, researching the company, and practicing your interview skills. However, sometimes an issue comes up that makes you reconsider going through with the scheduled interview. Should you cancel last minute? How soon is too soon to cancel an interview? There are a few factors to consider when making this decision.

How Far Out is the Interview?

If your interview is in the next day or two, canceling last minute should be avoided if at all possible. Hiring managers and recruiters have likely cleared time in their schedules and made arrangements to conduct the interview. Canceling on short notice is highly inconvenient for them. It can leave a bad impression of you as an unreliable candidate.

However, if your interview is a week or more away, there may be more flexibility to reschedule or cancel. The hiring manager likely has not dedicated the same time and efforts into preparations yet. Giving them several days’ or a week’s notice allows time to inform other interviewers, rebook a room, and rearrange their schedule.

What is Your Reason for Cancelling?

The reason behind cancelling the interview also determines how soon is too soon. Personal emergencies like illnesses, family issues, or accidents are often understandable reasons to cancel, even last minute. Hiring managers recognize life happens and some situations are out of your control. However, having to cancel due to something that could have been prevented can come across poorly.

If you simply no longer wish to interview due to accepting another offer or losing interest, it reflects poorly on you to cancel without sufficient notice. Backing out at the last minute when no extenuating circumstances have arisen can burn bridges and eliminate you from consideration in the future.

Have You Cancelled Before?

If this is not your first time cancelling with a particular company, that factors into how soon is too soon as well. Occasionally needing to reschedule or cancel is often fine. However, if you have cancelled interviews with the same hiring manager or company before, their patience may be wearing thin. Even if you have a reasonable excuse, cancelling again on short notice can make you appear flaky, disinterested, or unreliable.

It is best to avoid last minute cancellations unless absolutely necessary when you have needed to reschedule with a company previously. Follow up any cancellation with an email reiterating your interest in the role and appreciation of their time and flexibility.

How to Cancel Politely and Professionally

If you determine you need to cancel your upcoming interview, do so with courtesy and professionalism. Follow these steps:

Notify Early

Inform the hiring manager or recruiter of your need to cancel as soon as possible. Do not wait until the day before or day of the interview if at all avoidable. The more notice you can provide, the better.

Explain the Reason

Provide the reason you need to cancel. Keep it brief but offer an explanation. If it is a personal emergency, simply state you have a family or medical situation arise unexpectedly. You do not need to provide private details. If you have accepted another offer, let them know you appreciate their consideration but have decided to go another direction.


No matter the reason, apologize for the late notice or inconvenience. Recognize that canceling impacts their time and schedule. An apology goes a long way in maintaining professionalism and preventing burned bridges.

Thank the Interviewer

Thank the interviewer for their time and the opportunity to be considered for the role. If you are open to rescheduling in the future, communicate that as well.

Follow Up in Writing

After notifying them by phone, follow up with an email reiterating your need to cancel and appreciation of their flexibility. Having your apology, explanation and gratitude in writing prevents any miscommunication.

When to Reschedule Instead of Cancel

Sometimes cancelling the interview can be avoided by simply rescheduling to a later date. Here are some situations when attempting to reschedule, rather than outright cancel, is recommended:

– You are still very interested in the role and actively job seeking. Canceling may take you out of consideration, while rescheduling keeps you viable.

– Logistical issues like travel problems have arisen, but you are still able and willing to interview if a new time is arranged.

– You have a short term conflict like a project deadline or minor illness that will resolve shortly. Rescheduling allows you to still pursue the opportunity.

– The hiring manager has been highly engaged and enthusiastic about your application. Canceling may disappoint them versus rescheduling showing continued interest.

– You have already completed early interview stages and invested significant time into the process. Starting over with a new company is less efficient.

If the above factors apply, make an effort to work with the hiring manager to find a new interview time that fits both your schedules. Demonstrate flexibility, patience and continued interest throughout the process.

Alternatives to Cancelling Last Minute

Instead of cancelling your interview at the last minute, consider these alternatives:

Request a Phone or Video Interview

If an unanticipated schedule conflict or emergency has arisen, ask the hiring manager if a phone or video interview is possible rather than needing to cancel. Many roles allow for remote interview options.

Inquire About Later Time Slots

If the conflict is specific to the scheduled time, inquire if later interview slots that same day are available to accommodate your situation. Most recruiters overbook time slots in anticipation of cancellations.

Send Thank You Correspondence

If ultimately you must cancel last minute, sending a thank you note, email or card after the fact mitigates some of the negative impression made. Reiterate your interest and appreciation for their time.

Connect on LinkedIn

Look up your would-be interviewers on LinkedIn and send a connection request including a polite message. Maintaining that open channel keeps you on their radar for future roles.

Follow Up For Other Opportunities

Down the road, check the company’s jobs portal and follow up about other open positions you are interested in and qualified for. Your initiative shows you still value the company.

Long Term Impacts of Last Minute Cancellations

Canceling a job interview at the last minute can have consequences stretching beyond just that role. Here are some long term impacts to be aware of:

Damaged Relationship with Hiring Manager

The individual interviewer may be less inclined to consider you for future roles after the inconvenience caused by a last minute cancellation. Mending that relationship can be difficult.

Other Hiring Managers Informed

Recruiters often share feedback on candidates between teams. The hiring manager you cancelled on may advise others to be wary of scheduling you for interviews.

Reduced Chance of Future Openings

By cancelling, you may lose the opportunity to interview for roles with that company indefinitely. Openings that could have been possibilities will no longer be offered to you.

Missed Networking Connections

You lose the ability to make critical connections and get your name known by the company’s staff through the interview process. Those potential networks are important for future jobs.

Negative Employer Brand Impact

Too many last minute cancellations from multiple candidates can hurt an organization’s recruiting and brand efforts over time. They may invest less in the process.

Ineligibility for Rehire

Some companies have policies prohibiting rehiring candidates who have cancelled interviews. You could be blacklisted from the same employer in the future.

Summary: Exercise Caution When Cancelling

Here are some key takeaways on how soon is too soon to cancel a job interview:

– Notify the employer as early as possible, preferably a week or more in advance if able. Last minute notice should be a last resort for emergencies only.

– Provide a brief explanation for cancelling while maintaining professionalism and privacy boundaries.

– Apologize for the inconvenience and reiterate your interest in the company and role. Follow up in writing after notifying them.

– If interested, attempt to reschedule instead of outright cancel when feasible. Demonstrate flexibility.

– Be mindful that last minute cancellations, even with valid reasons, can still damage relationships with employers long term and eliminate future opportunities.

Canceling a scheduled interview is sometimes necessary but should be done with prudence, care for the employer’s time, and full understanding of the potential consequences. With advance notice and polite communication, candidates can maintain positive relationships even through needing to reschedule.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to cancel an interview the day before?

Canceling a job interview the day before is generally not advisable except in true emergency situations. It leaves the employer little time to make adjustments and is highly disruptive to their schedule. Always provide as much notice as possible.

Can I cancel a job interview due to anxiety?

If you are experiencing severe interview anxiety, it is best to be honest with the employer and request a phone or video interview instead. Most hiring managers will make accommodations. Canceling outright due to anxiety should be a last resort.

What if I need to cancel due to illness?

Informing the employer you need to cancel due to illness is completely understandable. Simple state you have fallen ill and apologize for inconveniencing them on short notice. Offer to reschedule once you have recovered.

How many times can I reschedule before looking bad?

As a rule of thumb, requesting to reschedule an interview more than once starts to reflect poorly. However, extenuating circumstances like illnesses or family emergencies are often granted additional flexibility.

Should I send flowers if I cancel last minute?

Flowers or small gifts are not necessary if cancelling an interview. Simply provide as much notice as you can and follow up with a gracious email thanking them for understanding.


Canceling a job interview last minute should be handled thoughtfully and with care. Provide the employer ample notice when possible, offer a brief explanation, apologize for inconveniencing them, and reaffirm your enthusiasm for the role. With professionalism and courtesy, candidates can preserve their reputation and relationships even when needing to reschedule on short notice.

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