• Articles
  • February 17, 2021
  • Gareth Morris

Improving the Interview Experience: “The interview was cancelled.”


Following on from part one and part two of our blog series on improving the interview experience, is another noticeable pattern in the analysis of our candidate feedback surveys. Candidates highlighted that a recurring bug-bear was businesses cancelling interviews, either at the last minute or without any notice at all.

When is it okay to cancel an interview?

From the perspectives of both the candidate and the client, cancelling an interview with no notice at all, or simply not showing up, is unacceptable. Of course, from time to time extenuating circumstances can result in an interview being cancelled. There may be a personal emergency regarding someone involved, or a double-booking in someone’s calendar – we’ve all been there!

However, if you have an interview booked in with a candidate and choose to cancel it at the 11th hour because – for example – you’ve interviewed a candidate you like half an hour beforehand and want to offer them the role, this isn’t exactly best practice when it comes to interviews. Plus, if you want to avoid damaging your brand in the process, it’s best to only cancel an interview if there is a justifiable reason.

What qualifies as a good reason to cancel an interview?

Of course, as a business, if an interviewer is ill and unable to attend, anyone would expect the interview to at least be postponed. Similarly, if another meeting has been rearranged and must take priority, this would also be an acceptable reason to put an interview on hold until a later date. However, it’s not the reason itself that candidates are frustrated with – it’s the timeframe in which the cancellation is made.

If it’s a day or two before and the candidate is given plenty of notice, this may be frustrating for them if they have spent time preparing, but it is accepted. If they are on the way to their interview and have taken the time off work, paid for travel and prepared for the interview, then receive a phone call to let them know the interview is no longer happening – this is where the majority of irritations lie.

3 tips for cancelling an interview

  1. Give a reason – you don’t have to go into great detail, but explain briefly why the interview is being cancelled, and if it will be rearranged.
  2. Give enough time – if possible, give the candidate enough notice when you are cancelling or postponing an interview.
  3. Apologise – no matter the reason for an interview being cancelled, offer your apologies; likelihood is the candidate will be a little irritated, given that they have spent time preparing.

If you want to find out more about the patterns within our feedback surveys, you can view the full report here.

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