When we’re on the job hunt, most of us focus the majority of our time and energy on getting our foot in the door for interviews and making sure that we make a lasting and positive impression while in the room. We pour untold amounts of blood, sweat, and tears into crafting the perfect resumes and cover letters, work overtime to ensure that our pre-interview communication with hiring managers is pitch perfect, and in the days leading up to interviews do everything we can to ensure that we’re polished and prepared. But sometimes fate intervenes in unexpected ways and interrupts our grand plans—even when it comes to job interviews. Although we’re eager to give off the impression that we’re always available and unwaveringly reliable to interviewers along the job trail, sometimes life happens, and rescheduling an interview is necessary.
Some of us have been indoctrinated into believing that rescheduling an interview is a real red flag for hiring personnel and about as egregious a move as taking our shoes off during an interview. But this simply isn’t true, as long as you handle the situation appropriately. Yes, ideally you should do your absolute best to adhere to an agreed-upon interview schedule, but if something unexpected comes up and you absolutely have to reschedule, then make sure you take the appropriate steps to minimize the impact. Consider the following strategies if and when you find yourself in this position.
1. Have a good reason.
Yes, we’re going out on a bit of a limb to let you know that rescheduling an interview is not the end of the world. That said, it isn’t something to do frivolously or take advantage of on a regular basis (or multiple times for a single interview). Make sure you have a good reason for needing to reschedule—a family or medical emergency, for example—that simply cannot be avoided or worked around. Use your best judgment here—if it’s something that can be put off until after the interview, then, by all means, do so. But if there’s simply no way around it, then any reasonable interviewer should understand and not hold it against you.
2. Follow up quickly.
Once you become aware that you have an unavoidable conflict and need to reschedule your interview, contact the individual you’ve been working with and let them know about the situation. Don’t put it off because you don’t want to deal or you’re afraid of their response—delaying the inevitable will only make matters worse. Also, do your absolute best (we mean it) to avoid having to reschedule on the day of the interview—although it may not be an absolute deal breaker, a last-minute schedule change is by no means putting your best foot forward or the best way to make a great first impression.
3. Be flexible.
When communicating the situation to your contact, be sure to offer some possible date and time alternatives in a friendly and helpful manner, all in an effort to minimize the amount of follow-up and back-and-forth needed. Remember, you want to make things as easy and pain-free on interviewers as possible, especially when asking to reschedule. If they reply with an alternate date and time, make every effort to be available for it. The best way to rebound from a schedule change is by being flexible.
4. Kill them with politeness.
Make sure that you expressly show your appreciation for an interviewer’s willingness to reschedule an interview. Thank them in writing, thank them again in person, and then it wouldn’t hurt to thank them one more time in your follow-up correspondence after interviewing. Remember, you want to convey that you’re aware that the interviewer’s time is valuable and that you sincerely appreciate their attention and flexibility. Failure to do so might just make the sort of bad impression you’re worried about.
If you’re thinking about rescheduling an interview, use the strategies and advice presented here to help you pull it off without a hitch. Good luck!