We have all had to do it at one point in our career or will one day soon. A meeting or interview you scheduled needs to be canceled but you mainly fear burning bridges, insulting someone, or losing out on a job opportunity. So, we list some best practices for canceling interviews and meetings that will leave you feeling confident no bridge has been burned and you can reschedule.
If you sincerely wish to reschedule
You had the chance to book a meeting or interview with a company, mentor, or hiring manager. You are feeling excited! This is a great chance to advance in your career and business. But then you realize you screwed up and double-booked. There is no way you can make it.
- Look at your calendar and find a reschedule time you are 100% sure is best.
- Write a sincere apology and attempt to reschedule.
- You broke the plans...so prepare to be flexible.
Show them you truly regret canceling the first meeting by making the second meeting, no matter what the scheduling conflict. When writing an email, try a template like this:
I’m so sorry for the late notice, but I’m not going to be able to make it tonight. I feel awful for not letting you know before today, but the fact is I have an upcoming deadline and I want to fully devote my time to our meeting without feeling rushed.
Please accept my apology and consider rescheduling. Let me know if [date + time] or [date + time] works for you to reschedule.
If neither of those dates is open, I’ll gladly work around your schedule. Again, I apologize for the late notice. I was really looking forward to meeting and definitely want to get a new date on the calendar as soon as possible.
If you never truly wanted to interview or meet up
This usually happens when a person seems to back you into a corner and pressures you to set up an interview or meeting. You said you would, but you never really wanted to in the first place. Some seem to have the ability to get you to agree to things you never wanted. But now it is time to be direct and upfront with the person.
- Let them know you have too much going on and will not be able to interview.
- Offer a way to set up a meeting or interview online via Skype, social media, etc.
- Make no offer to reschedule to meet in-person.
Do not worry about their reaction(s) to you. You are just fixing up your mistake of agreeing to something you had no interest in doing:
I was just looking at my calendar and realized I’m stretched way too thin this month; in fact, I will be for the next couple of months. At this point, it’s just not feasible to reschedule our interview/meeting. I’m sorry we cannot meet face-to-face but I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you have about [this topic].
I know you must have lots to ask. Would you like to meet via Skype or chat on LinkedIn?
Again, my apologies for canceling on you. I try not to make scheduling errors but obviously, I still have a need for improvement.
If you cancel on an event (not a person)
Canceling to appear at an event or on a conference panel is not “canceling an in-person meeting”. Think of it as canceling a meeting with hundreds, maybe thousands of people. It may seem easier because you are not talking to one person, but there are still people behind conferences who do planning and scheduling. Plus, you have the disappointed audiences who planned on attending an event or conference to meet you. Simply not showing up or canceling at the last minute is the worst possible way to handle it.
- Reach out to the person who first scheduled you and was your point of contact.
- Apologize for canceling and offer to stay in touch for future events.
- Change your response on social media, Meetup, and things like Evite to “not attending”.
Next, send an email like the one below:
Thanks for the invite for [name of event]. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to present as originally planned.
I wanted to let you know as soon as I could so that you could open the list up to someone else. I’m definitely interested in presenting or speaking on a panel in the future at these types of networking gatherings.
I hope you’ll keep me on your list or we can possibly meet again in the near future.
When all is said and done
Some basics about canceling:
- Never cancel at the last minute or after the meeting/interview was to start
- Do a gut-check to make sure you really need to cancel
- Only cancel a meeting if you mean it; never because you just feel lazy.
- Control yourself when it comes to agreeing to meetings and interviews and know when to say, “No”.
- Try to make canceling a rarity.
The last thing you want to do is gain a reputation as someone who flakes out on meetings or tries to please too many people by saying, “Yes!” to every meeting or interview request.
The more reliable you are keeping your interviews and meetings, the more people will trust what you have to say.