Car troubles, family emergencies, traffic hang-ups, illness – everyone has a reason why they can’t make it to an appointment or another obligation. Normally, it’s no big deal. You just reschedule the thing.
But, what happens when you need to reschedule an interview? Ooof! That can feel like a big deal. You don’t want to miss a potential job opportunity or seem unprofessional.
But, don’t worry, this is a common situation. The best way to navigate your way around rescheduling an interview is to be polite and apologetic but also remain positive. This post shows how to reschedule an interview without burning any bridges or tainting your reputation.
Is it Bad to Reschedule an Interview?
No, it’s not bad to reschedule a job interview. A reasonable employer should understand your need for an alternative time slot. The important thing is to communicate your request the right way. As long as you give reasonable notice and have a sound reason for rescheduling you will be fine.
For example, canceling at the last minute because a friend invited you to lunch is a bad idea. So is double booking an interview or oversleeping. Running a fever is a good reason to ask to reschedule.
Yes, you may run into a recruiter who simply refuses to be flexible or understanding. Although, in that case, you may have saved yourself from taking a job with someone who lacks empathy or realistic expectations.
7 Good Reasons to Reschedule an Interview
Here are five acceptable reasons to reschedule a job interview:
- You are ill or injured
- Family crisis
- An urgency at your current job
- Change in working hours
- Poor weather conditions
- Death in the family
- You’ve got another job offer already
What about car troubles or commute issues? This is a bit complicated. The hiring manager may question why you couldn’t make transportation arrangements in time to go to the interview. It may also be problematic if part of the requirements for the job is that you have a personal vehicle.
Jo Cresswell, a Career Expert at Glassdoor, put it this way in an interview:
“Employers are human and understand that employees – and candidates – have lives outside of the workplace which may bring unique priorities and sometimes challenges. [However], if you have difficulties getting to the office for the interview, for example, perhaps offer a video interview in its place. If you are having an issue finding childcare, it’s not unheard of for forward-looking companies to welcome children into the office. Be authentic and be genuine in your requests.”
Generally, emergencies and obligations are good reasons to reschedule an interview. Poor planning and time management are not.
How to Reschedule an Interview in 4 Quick Steps
It can be pretty nerve-wracking to reschedule an interview. You may be worried that you will be rejected as an applicant altogether or viewed as flaky and irresponsible.
Don’t worry too much. Most recruiters realize that life gets in the way and act reasonably regarding the issue.
Still, it can help to have a “game plan”. So, relax and just follow the four steps below to reschedule your interview.
1. Give Advanced Notice
Contact the interviewer as soon as you know you can’t come. Advance notice is the most considerate and professional thing to do. Also, your chances of rescheduling go up when you give the company plenty of heads up.
So how soon should you notify the employer? That depends. An injury or illness can come last moment. So you might need to cancel the interview on the same day. However, you should know about other circumstances with a little more advanced notice. Do the employer a courtesy of informing them ASAP e.g. two-three days before the planned date.
2. State Your Reason For Rescheduling
Let the hiring manager know why you need to reschedule. When you do this, be straightforward, brief, and keep the details to a minimum. Don’t overshare or elaborate too much. That has the potential to create an uncomfortable or awkward situation.
Remember: Oversharing can also put the hiring team in a difficult position. Does your reason for rescheduling reveal your family status, religion, age, or any other protected status? This can happen more easily than you realize. For example, if you tell them you have to reschedule because your child is sick, you have revealed information that interviewers don’t need to know. Why? Because it could lead to potential accusations of discrimination later on.
Handle things discreetly. Use general information when referring to anything personal. For example, “We are passing an upper respiratory infection around the house, and I am afraid it could be contagious.”
3. Suggest an Alternative Date
While it is up to the interviewer if and when to reschedule, only you know your availability. Suggest an alternative date and time. This indicates your availability and interest in the position.
If you prefer, you can give a range of availability. This allows the hiring manager to review their own schedule and fit you into the next opening.
4. Be Professional and Respectful
The unfortunate truth is that your rescheduling may cause some inconvenience. Let the interviewer know that you regret putting them out. Express hope that you haven’t caused them too much of an issue. That’s professionalism.
However, it isn’t necessary to fall all over yourself apologizing. You are making a reasonable request and possibly creating a small inconvenience. Don’t feel too terribly guilty. Remember that you are still a great candidate.
What if The Company Refuses to Reschedule an Interview?
The truth is that some employers take a hard line on this, and they won’t reschedule as a matter of policy. Others may simply have too many other applicants to fit you in again. That’s disappointing, but still something you need to handle professionally. Don’t burn bridges. Thank them for considering you, and express interest in meeting again in the future.
Pro tip: Ask the recruiter to keep a copy of your resume and add it to their internal pool of candidates for future job openings.
Sample Email to Reschedule an Interview
Ready to hit send, but not sure how to frame your request? Here’s a quick sample to use as a reference.
Subject: Interview Rescheduling Request
I know we had an interview scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, and I was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, I’ve come down with a chest cold. It’s fairly minor, but I don’t want to risk being contagious.
I sincerely apologize if this inconveniences you in any way. I am still very interested in this position and learning more about the ACES industries. My schedule is open every afternoon (12 pm-2 pm) next week. How would Thursday work for you?
Thank you again for your understanding,
Rescheduling an Interview by Phone
You may prefer to contact the interviewer by phone if your request is last-moment. After all, not everyone checks their email every hour, so your email might not be seen before the planned appointment date.
If they answer their phone, get right to the point. Let them know who you are and why you are calling. Apologize sincerely and offer to reschedule at their convenience.
Are you leaving a message? Here is a sample script.
“Hello [interviewer]. It’s [your name] calling about my interview this afternoon. Unfortunately, there has been a family emergency. I will need to reschedule. I am so sorry for the inconvenience. Would you be available to meet on Friday instead? I’m very interested in this position, and would still love to talk to you. Thank you for being so understanding.”
Attending your interview on time and being prepared is the best way to demonstrate your sincere interest in the job. It also proves you are ultra-professional, punctual, and reliable.
Unfortunately, you can be the most “together” applicant there is. Life still happens. Sometimes that means unforeseen circumstances cause you to need to reschedule.
When that happens, start with a gut check. Do you have a good reason to reschedule? Should you work harder to figure things out? For example, can you take a bus or get a ride from a friend? What about leaving earlier or finding a sitter to take care of a sick child?
Once you have given things careful consideration, it’s time to decide. If you truly have to reschedule, don’t feel bad. Instead, follow the tips above to ensure the best possible outcomes.