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Will I hurt my chances if I reschedule a job interview?

Updated: May 10, 2019

woman on cellphone discussing interview

If you need to reschedule a job interview, you’re probably in freak-out mode. Will they immediately drop me to the bottom of the list? Did I miss my chance? The short answer is…maybe.

Not what you wanted to hear. But hang on. There are a lot of factors that influence whether rescheduling will be a problem. Let’s talk about those first, before you decide. Then, we’ll look at what reasons are generally acceptable and how to reschedule so you make the best impression.

When is it more likely that rescheduling will hurt my chances?

There are five factors that could make it harder for you to overcome rescheduling your interview. Keep these in mind as you consider whether to reschedule.

The size of the company – If you’re applying for a job at a large organization, they’ve likely cleared out the schedules of hiring managers and related staff for a full day of interviews. A sudden cancelation can mess up the flow of the day, leaving them with a gap to fill. They’ll also have to coordinate the calendars of their staff again – just for you.

The culture of the company – If the company generally has an inflexible culture, you’ll probably realize this quickly. If they give you a hard time, especially when you have a valid reason, this could be a red flag about the organization itself.

The competitiveness of the job – If there are a lot of applicants due to the job market or the nature of the job, rescheduling could easily move you to the bottom of the list. When hiring managers have plenty of qualified candidates to choose from, they’re less likely to wait for you.

The hiring urgency – If they needed to hire someone yesterday, rescheduling will obviously be a problem. But in cases where they have the luxury of time (and they want to find the right fit), they’re more likely to wait for someone who has potential.

The personality of the hiring manager – This is unfair, but true. If the hiring manager is easily annoyed by applicants who don’t follow their rules or disrupt the hiring process, your cancelation will probably hurt your chances, even if you do reschedule.

What reasons for rescheduling are acceptable?

This can vary depending on the company culture (and the hiring manager – as noted above), but generally these reasons are acceptable.

Current job conflict – Hiring managers understand that if you have a job, you need to work

around it. They also appreciate that you’re not ducking out of your current job – since that’s an indicator of how you’ll be as an employee.

Health – Use your best judgment here. You don’t want to be sneezing all over the interviewer,

but you also don’t want to lose the chance at this job. Are you well enough to make a

good impression?

Death in family – You won’t find a company (at least I hope not!) that isn’t understanding about this situation.

Transportation – This can be tricky. You don’t want to give the impression that you have

unreliable transportation. Will they be late every day? But if you’re coming from out of town,

it’s definitely acceptable.

Weather – Just be certain that the weather is bad enough to warrant rescheduling. You might want to check in a day before if the forecast looks ominous. Hiring managers will certainly understand – and will probably appreciate that they don’t have to come in either!

How should I reschedule?

Rescheduling isn’t the ideal situation. But when done right, this can go a long way in reassuring the employer you’re worth the wait. Here are some tips:

Do it ASAP – By giving them plenty of notice, this shows consideration for their busy schedule.

Call and email – Use whatever means you have for contacting them and follow up to make sure they got the message.

Keep it short – You don’t want to talk their ear off about your dramatic car accident or the icicle that almost killed you. Just convey the seriousness, so they understand why you’re canceling and leave it at that.

Reinforce your interest – Rescheduling could imply the job isn’t that important to you. Don’t let them assume anything. Be clear that you’re interested and want to be considered.

Apologize – You don’t have to grovel, but make sure you’re appropriately apologetic about the inconvenience. If they’re willing to reschedule, be sure to thank them for their flexibility.

Rescheduling your interview isn’t an automatic deal-breaker. Focus on what’s under your control. By providing a valid reason and doing it in a professional way, you can still nail that interview

and get the job.

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