How to Gracefully Reschedule an Interview

Job interview reminder written on sticky note
Roman Motizov /

Life happens. Three weeks ago, you may have scheduled a job interview for Tuesday at precisely 10:15am. You even confirmed the appointment a couple of days prior. Unfortunately, the power went out and your alarm clock didn’t go off, the bus to the train station was delayed, and a couple of blocks on the east side were closed off because of construction. Heck, it may not even be any external factors, but just that your stomach was turning, and it made you nauseous from that big Mexican dinner the night before.

Indeed, there are plenty of factors why an applicant would be late for a job interview, or any kind of interview for that matter. Does it make you less qualified for the employment opportunity?

There are two questions to ask to determine the answer:

  • Did you, the candidate, call ahead of time and warn about being tardy?
  • Did you arrive late or not show up at all without a phone call?

If you’re an employee who is professional and typically does the right thing, then you may be wondering how exactly you can pick another date and time for an interview without hurting your chances of attaining the job.

Here’s how to reschedule an interview professionally and gracefully.

1. Stay Calm and Carry On

With this interview, you have the opportunity to nab the job of your dreams. As the minutes tick by, your heart begins to race, the sweat drops from your brow and your hands shake. There is nothing more you can do but to cancel the interview and hopefully reschedule for another day (if it’s still there).

While you want this position more than anything in the world, you still need to keep your composure. In other words, you must stay calm and carry on; otherwise, your frantic behaviour will be irksome to the hiring manager. It might be a challenge to refrain from apologising profusely and shedding tears, but it is something you must do.

2. Contact the Company ASAP

Whether it is a blizzard outside or you’re not feeling well, if you believe that you may be too late to the interview, then you should contact the company as soon as possible. The earlier you get in touch with the receptionist, hiring manager or business owner, the better it is for you if the job goes left unfilled.

The worst thing you can do is to wait for the allotted time to pass and then contact the firm. The next worst thing is to speak with a corporate figure just a few minutes before the interview.

3. Use the Telephone First

Yes, it is true: the younger generation hates calling people, typically preferring to send a text message or shoot an email. The reasons for this preference vary, but this is unprofessional, uncouth and unnecessary in the corporate world. While it is okay if you’re already employed at the business, it’s unacceptable if you’re still seeking a role within the firm.

So, if you need to reschedule, then be sure to pick up your rotary phone and spin the dial!

4. Be Honest

You may think that you need to come up with a grandiose excuse as to why you were unable to make it for your appointment. All sorts of stories flood your mind, from the dog eating your smartphone to rescuing an old lady’s kitten from a tree, but it’s a superfluous endeavour. It’s unnecessary.

Do you know what works? Well, as the old saying goes: honesty is the best policy.

You woke up late, the train was a can of sardines, you slipped and hurt your ankle, or your superintendent kept you busy to discuss the cockroach infestation in your apartment building. Whatever the reason is, don’t fib; it will only get you into trouble later.

Remember: lies beget lies. You just need to tell the truth.

5. Remain Respectful

Here is something to keep in mind as you speak with the hiring manager or supervisor: it is your fault that you missed your job interview, not the person on the other end. (Unless that person gave you the wrong address or time.)

That said, it is critical to remain respectful throughout the entire duration of your call. You should never give off any attitude, be flippant or cuss the person out as if you were a cast member of Goodfellas.

Even if you get away with being disrespectful, your in-person demeanour may impact your odds of getting the job. Everything from arriving too late or too early to yawning and rambling, there’s an abundance of mistakes you should avoid at all costs.

6. Pick the Best Date

Usually, employers will select a date for your next job interview, and you should take whatever appointment is given to you. That said, if you are asked when the best time is for you, then be smart about it – think about what works for you.

For example, if you know that you are not a morning person and that you will be late if you have a 7:30am appointment, then try to select a time that is more convenient for you. Or if you know that your brain is drained closer to the end of the day, then attempt to pick an earlier time.

Again, you were the one who was late, and you need to accommodate the business. But if they are willing to accommodate you, then be sure to take advantage of this invitation.

7. Follow Up to Confirm the Date

A confirmation is great for both the candidate and the recruiter. This ensures that both sides know the interview is still on and that the position remains open. It is also a great reminder for the employee because then they can better prepare for arriving to the appointment early.

Whether you receive an email or a telephone call, it is essential to reply almost immediately and with tremendous courtesy.

Unsure how to respond to the confirmation request? Here is a sample letter:

Dear Mr Vandelay,

Thank you very much for getting in touch with me.

Monday at 9:45am works for me. I look forward to speaking with you then.


HE Pennypacker

Short, sweet, concise and to the point.

No one will ever argue the fact that first impressions matter in the business world.

That said, if you think that you are giving off the worst impression by rescheduling a job interview, then think again. Everyone knows that life happens and that there are certain events that are beyond your control.

It’s one thing if you just don’t show up and expect a second interview like a flick of a switch. It’s another to go out of your way, apologise and do your best to request a second interview.

(Please don’t drop off a bouquet of roses to the hiring manager as a way of saying you’re sorry.)

And, yes, companies notice this. They are always on the lookout for the best talent. By professionally and immediately rescheduling your interview, you provide a superb impression to the powers at be. This means they will be more than willing to take another chance on you.

Have you ever rescheduled an interview? How did you go about it? Let us know in the comments section below.