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Updated 08/11/2017

    For companies, scheduling job interviews is a complex process. If you’re a candidate,
    you’re almost certainly not the hiring manager’s only interview that week, or even that
    morning. If outside recruiters are involved, schedules can become a delicate dance
    between hiring manager, HR staffers, the recruiter, and the candidates.

    First, remember the difference between a cancellation and a reschedule request.

    For a cancellation, make the conversation clear and to the point; you need to cancel
    the interview, you appreciate the opportunity but cannot make the appointment. If
    this is from a lack of interest or need in the position, indicate your family situation
    has changed and you would not be able to accept the position at this time. Make
    clear your apologies and move on. Understand this will potentially cause some
    damage later if you seek employment with this company.
    Requesting a reschedule is a different approach as it shows continued immediate
    interest but you are faced with a situation that demands your immediate involvement.
    In a phone call, simply state "I am unable to meet as we planned for my interview
    but do want to remain in consideration and would like to reschedule."  Do not get
    into details unless you are pressured to provide one.

    Common legitimate reasons include sudden illness or serious accident of a close

    family member or aging parents, a contagious disease or other factors. Extend your
    sincere apologies and acknowledge the effort involved in scheduling this and your
    continued interest and enthusiasm in the position. If you can provide a target date
    for you availability, provide that date to allow them to see what may be possible. If
    the situation is critical you may need to advise them you will provide a future good
    first available date to them as soon as possible.

    Understand your request may create ill-feelings towards you so use this only as a
    last resort and explain that during your conversation. Do not go into detail on your
    reason for they may fear increased medical costs and time from work which could
    provide an opening to a competitor.

    Always follow the phone conversation with an e-mail to document the discussion
    and indicate your intent to provide a first available date for them to schedule from.
    This helps document the conversation and plan plus shows professionalism.

    The Bridge You Burn Today May Reopen Later!
    Whether it is in your e-mail or telephone call, thank the Manager involved for their
    time and interest in you and your continued interest in their opportunity. You may
    find you will not continue as a candidate but will be remembered positively for the
    manner in which you notified them and expressed your interest. It would also be
    worth your time to contact them three months later to restate your interest just in
    case.  Three months is approximately the time required to know if a new hire will
    or will not be successful.