How to ask for a different interview time (plus tips)
Receiving a job interview invitation indicates that you've met all the hiring organisation's requirements and is the next step towards getting the job. While you want to arrive at the scheduled time, there are many reasons why the agreed-upon interview time or date may no longer be possible and it's necessary to reschedule. Learning how to request a different interview time can ensure you maintain a good relationship with the company and get a chance to interview. In this article, we explain how to ask for a different interview time, list acceptable reasons for doing so and offer tips.
How to ask for a different interview time
Learn how to ask for a different interview time by reviewing the steps below:
1. Contact the interviewer as soon as possible
When you realise your interview time or date is no longer workable, contact the interviewer or relevant person immediately. It's professional courtesy to give the company as much notice as possible. This shows that you're considerate and respectful of the interviewer's time. Immediately alerting the interviewer allows them more time to fill your absence and get you a new interview date.
How you contact the interviewer depends on how you've communicated so far. If you've only exchanged emails, send one as soon as possible to explain the scheduling conflict. If you've spoken on the phone, call them to let them know. This method also ensures they receive your notice. If the interviewer is unavailable, you can leave a voice message or send an email instead. The closer you are to the time of the interview, the more preferable a phone call becomes.
2. Be apologetic for having to reschedule
At the beginning of your message, greet the interviewer and immediately tell them you want to reschedule your interview. Express your regret for having to do so. Make it clear that you want to attend the interview and you hope cancelling doesn't cause an inconvenience. This effort shows that you understand the interviewer's time is valuable and you respect it. A thoughtful response is crucial for maintaining a good impression. It may also encourage them to reschedule your interview.
3. State your reason for having to cancel
Another aspect of showing the company you respect their time is giving an honest reason for rescheduling. If you omit the reason or offer a trivial one, they may decline to reschedule your interview and respond negatively. If you want to keep the details private, you can explain the reason for the scheduling conflict in broad terms. Briefly explain what occurred and why it prevents you from attending the interview.
4. Express your enthusiasm for the job
Once you've asked to have the interview rescheduled and explained why, restate your enthusiasm for the role. The interviewer or hiring manager wants to know you're still serious about the job and that rescheduling is unrelated to your commitment to the role. Express your excitement like you might in a cover letter by mentioning why you're eager to work for that particular company.
5. Give alternative dates
The next step is to give alternative dates or times for the interview, depending on your availability. If possible, give multiple flexible options to show you want to attend the interview and are willing to put in the effort to make the appointment convenient for the company. Doing so shows you're enthusiastic and want to find a solution, which helps maintain a good impression.
6. Thank them and close the message
At the end of your message, thank the interviewer or relevant person. Express your gratitude for their understanding and patience. Briefly reiterate your regret for rescheduling the interview and your enthusiasm for the job opportunity. End the message with a professional closing based on its format and your familiarity with the interviewer.
If you're unsure, close a written message with Yours sincerely, assuming you addressed the recipient by name. If you addressed it to a job title or another generic greeting, use Yours faithfully. If it's a verbal message or phone call, thank them, wish them a pleasant day and state that you look forward to hearing from them.
Reasons to reschedule an interview
Below is a list of acceptable reasons to reschedule an interview and ways to explain them appropriately:
Illness or injury
An illness or injury that prevents you from coming to the interview is an acceptable reason to reschedule. Ensure your situation impacts your ability to perform your daily activities or duties because employers may feel that minor issues, such as a headache, are poor excuses for missing an interview. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide what's serious enough to request rescheduling.
Some health-related reasons are always acceptable, such as a contagious disease or an event requiring a visit to a hospital. It's typically unnecessary to provide comprehensive details about health-related issues. If you have an illness, state that you're unwell and unable to leave home. If it's contagious, mention that too. For an injury, explain you had an accident and went to seek medical attention.
A personal emergency involving a family member or loved one can be an acceptable reason to reschedule an interview, especially if the situation requires your attention or intervention. For example, a relative may need transportation to a hospital, your child may be unwell or there may have been an accident or passing involving a loved one. These are all understandable reasons to reschedule your interview. For personal emergencies, give broad details about the event. Most interviewers are willing to show compassion and understanding even if you limit the amount of detail.
If you're employed and looking for a new job, a sudden change in your work schedule may prevent you from making it to the interview. Even though you're looking for a new job, interviewers often respect your commitment to your current employer, which indicates your work ethic and demonstrates that you're likely to show similar dedication to the new position once hired. If your work schedule suddenly changes, state this and mention that it was beyond your control.
If your transportation method is no longer available, you may want to reschedule. For example, your vehicle may break down, leading you to search for public transportation or an alternative. Disruptions also include delays in public transport. In these cases, you typically find out the day of or shortly before your interview. The closer the incident is to the meeting, the more appropriate it is to phone the interviewer rather than send an email. Like most other scenarios, it's unnecessary to provide excessive detail, such as describing what happened to your car or why there's no train service.
Tips for rescheduling an interview
Below are some additional tips to consider when contacting an interviewer or hiring manager to reschedule your interview:
Provide only necessary details. Only give as much detail as necessary to convey that you want to postpone. This helps to ensure your request to reschedule sounds sincere.
Follow up. Whether you receive a reply to your first message or not, follow up the next day or shortly after. If you left a voice message, follow up later the same day to ensure they received it.
Be calm and confident in your decision. Be at ease with your decision to reschedule, as an understanding employer recognises emergencies happen and shows compassion for honest requests. If the employer responds negatively to a genuine reason, this may suggest an undesirable company culture, and you might want to reconsider the position.
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