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How to cancel an interview politely: rules of business etiquette

Alina MilsentLife
Rules of business etiquette

Knowing the rules of business etiquette is the basis for effective cooperation. You will have a competitive advantage in the labor market if you are a professional who knows what they are doing and shows good manners and negotiation skills.

However, situations vary, and sometimes you have to cancel interviews. The worst thing you can do is simply ignore the recruiter's calls and messages. OBOZREVATEL tells you how to politely explain the refusal to meet.

Why you shouldn't ignore a recruiter when an interview has already been arranged:

Rejecting people is always unpleasant, but you can cancel the interview in a way that leaves everyone satisfied (or at least not offended). Even if you've already accepted a job offer but reconsidered due to factors like job dissatisfaction, salary concerns, or other unforeseen circumstances, you can cancel the interview while keeping etiquette in mind.

You shouldn't pretend that you forgot about the meeting, ignore the recruiter's messages, not answer their calls, or block their number altogether. This is not the best course of action.

This increases the likelihood that you will also be blacklisted by the company, and the recruiter may inform colleagues from other companies about your unacceptable behavior. Ignoring a potential employer when a meeting has already been arranged in advance can make you look like a very unreliable employee and even risk being included in a potential database of unacceptable candidates.

How to politely cancel an interview:

The first rule of a well-mannered person is to inform the recruiter or HR manager of the meeting's cancellation as early as possible. Contact the recruiter or HR manager during business hours.

If you dislike phone conversations, write a message. For example, use the following sample:

  1. Greeting and a reminder about yourself ("This is Ivan Kotyhoroshko, and we have an interview scheduled for the position of sales manager on Tuesday, September 12, at 11 a.m.").
  2. A message explaining that, unfortunately, you will not be able to attend the interview.
  3. A short and clear reason for the refusal.
  4. An apology ("I'm sorry I had to change my plans").
  5. A polite farewell ("I wish you success in finding a worthy candidate; I'm sure you'll find the right specialist as soon as possible").

The third point may seem a bit unpleasant. Many people prefer to simply cancel the meeting without explaining the reason for the refusal. However, it is better not to skip this step. Be honest about what doesn't suit you about the job: schedule, salary, responsibilities, workload, office location, inability to work remotely, etc.

Recruiters collect and analyze the reasons for rejections. For them, this is important information that will help them optimize the employee search process in the future. You can communicate the reasons very tactfully, for example: "I am impressed by the proposed schedule and social package, but I am considering at least partial remote work. It's inconvenient for me to travel to the office every day," or "the position is very interesting, but I'm not sure that the responsibilities and position will lead me to the career goal I'm looking for."

If you forgot about the interview:

Life can be quite stressful and unpredictable, especially during challenging times. Everyday concerns, unexpected events, or personal difficulties can throw you off track, and you may suddenly realize that you have forgotten about the interview.

In this case, you may feel uncomfortable and hesitant to call the recruiter after the fact since the meeting hasn't taken place. However, according to the rules of etiquette, you should still call or send a message. The conversation may not be very pleasant, but apologizing will definitely make you feel better.

OBOZREVATEL also told you how to communicate with your boss and why you need the rules of subordination.

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