You can successfully reschedule an interview without ruining you job prospects, so long as you use tact, timing, and forward thinking.

After a painful application process, you’ve finally landed the job interview — congrats! You’re already prepping in the shower or while stuck in traffic on the long commute home for how to answer those sticky interview questions when something unexpected pops up. You can no longer make your allotted interview time and need to reschedule. This situation, while not ideal, doesn’t have to spell immediate disaster for your new job prospects. With some careful planning and consideration, you may be able to successfully negotiate a new interview time with your prospective employer. Here we give you some pointers on how to reschedule a job interview — without ruining your chances for success in the process.

Take a deep breath

Yes, rescheduling an interview is not ideal, but life never goes exactly as planned, does it? If you do find yourself suddenly unable to attend the interview at the agreed-upon time and date, take a breath, relax, and think carefully about how to manage the situation (sending a frantic email from your iPhone at 2 a.m. is probably not going to help). With some good timing and a bit of tact, you should be able to get over this minor speed bump relatively unscathed and still secure your future job role.

Think professionally

An employer’s willingness to reschedule an interview will largely depend on whether you have a legitimate excuse for not making the agreed-upon time slot. A sudden illness or family emergency both fall within the realm of professional excuses and are issues that companies are accustomed to managing within their existing pool of employees. If the issue has come from an existing work commitment, like a last-minute work trip or emergency shift, this can even demonstrate to an employer a sense of dedication and professionalism.

While you may feel the need to over-explain your reasoning for needing to reschedule, don’t overdo it on the detail. Approaching the situation professionally means not making your problem someone else’s. This philosophy may even score you points if the reasoning for rescheduling is a flu or virus, as there’s little doubt the interviewer — and the entire office — does not want to catch whatever you’re carrying.

Act quickly

It may seem daunting, but picking up the phone and talking directly to the hiring or human resources manager is the most considerate approach to take when rescheduling an interview. It demonstrates your willingness to take responsibility and also ensures you’re giving an employer the maximum amount of time to reschedule, rather than leaving an email to sit in their inbox unnoticed for 24 hours. Acting quickly will help to minimize the damage caused, giving your prospective employers a good window of time to get things re-organized. And while time may be of the essence, think carefully about tact and tone before you pick up the phone — acknowledging the fault is yours and offering your apologies for causing an inconvenience will demonstrate your ability to take responsibility, even if the situation was unavoidable or no direct fault of your own.

Plan ahead

Before you reach out about rescheduling an interview, be prepared with alternative dates and times that you will be available. It’s unlikely that you’ll get a second shot at rescheduling, so be proactive about your availability and be flexible with your prospective employers’ calendar. If you were unable to attend the interview because of illness, be sure to give yourself enough time to recover properly. Not only will this optimize your chance for success when the interview comes around, but it’s also considerate to your prospective employer. Most importantly, be sure to follow up a successful interview rescheduling with a thank-you email. This demonstrates your understanding that their time is valuable and shows your appreciation for their accommodating your request.

Move on

Lastly, once you’ve successfully rescheduled your job interview, don’t let the experience create a negative flow-on effect. Yes, the situation was unfortunate, but it doesn’t mean it has to color your entire application experience. When you finally do sit down for the interview with the hiring manager, acknowledge and thank them for their flexibility, then focus on why you’re really there: to demonstrate why you are the best fit for the role and why you would make a valuable addition to their company. There’s always a silver lining, and being able to deal with an unanticipated situation calmly and professionally is always a good attribute — one that can impress your employer far more than a snotty-nose or lame excuse.

Prepping for your next job interview, but don’t know where to start? Learn more about TopInterview’s interview coaching services today!  

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