I have been an executive recruiter for the past 5 years and throughout my tenure in this profession I have heard a plethora of excuses as to why a candidate cannot attend an interview. Often times, the cancellation comes the day of the interview, leaving recruiters like myself to scramble and put out the fire with our clients. There have been instances where a candidate has to cancel an interview for reasons to do with their current job: surprise visit from a client, unexpected ride day with the boss, etc. Granted a candidate's first priority should be their current job, it is not wise to jeopardize your current job for one you don't yet have. However, on the other hand, smart candidates schedule interviews for times when they know they can be available. When you think about your career and the path you are trying to create, your actions during the entire process can set the tone and establish a reputation with your potential employer and the rest of the working world. In sales, networking and recommendations are two major ways of conducting business and branding yourself. A few years ago, you were able to control your reputation and keep a pulse on it. Yet in today's market where social media has taken the world by storm, it is easier than ever to dig up information on people and find what their real reputation is. The good thing is that these sites are great marketing tools and typically get your message out quicker. With that being said, negative press spreads FASTER!
We live in a small world and especially in sales, people know people and they love to talk about other people. Think about it, the organization that you work for now potentially could not be the one you work for later in life. Therefore, as you build relationships, make sure you foster old ones. Your past track record and experience will follow you so make sure you don't burn bridges. That being said, you start to create a name for yourself the minute you get introduced to a new opportunity, client or colleague. Your first impression will go a long way, especially in an interview. So if you have something scheduled, follow through with it or give significant notice to reschedule for a better time. Believe in KARMA! In any profession, you are always dealing with people, whether they are a client, colleague, and prospect etc. and what goes around comes around! So without further ado, here are some worst, yet most entertaining excuses that I have heard in my 5 years of recruiting:
- " I know we spoke about it, but I never received a confirmation email so I assumed it was not happening"
- "I am really sick all of a sudden and can't talk"
- "I am in the ER right now calling you from Hospital Bed. I can grab the nurse if you want…"
- "I spoke to a friend of mine and they said I was crazy for considering that role"
- "I decided that I'm going to take a few months off and travel the world"
- "Oh…I thought the interview was optional. I didn't think I had to call to cancel"
- "I didn't sleep very well last night so I think it's best to reschedule for when I'm well rested"
- "I heard it was supposed to snow so I don't want to risk it"
- "I'm having car trouble"/"I just got into a car accident"
- "I thought it was tomorrow"
- "I have thought about it and I can make more money on unemployment"
- "I tried to go but I couldn't find the office, so I turned around and went home"
- "I had a family crisis"
- "I forgot"
I think it goes without saying these excuses do not create an impression of a mature and professional candidate. I would strongly suggest to think long and hard before you cancel an interview and if you absolutely must cancel, my strong recommendation it to be honest! If the reason that you are canceling an interview is because you're not interested then you should not have accepted the interview to begin with. In sales, time is money, therefore make sure you're not wasting your time or anyone else's for that matter. At the end of the day, your actions of blowing off interviews will potentially burn bridges that you one day might need. If you are dealing with a hiring manager directly or working with a recruitment firm, it is best to develop a relationship and have open and honest communication to strategize on your next career move. Focus on things that make sense and you will be sure eliminate "the blow-off."
If you do, however, find yourself in the predicament where you have to reschedule an interview with a company you are truly interested in, here are a few ways to be professional in rescheduling:
- Call the interviewer the day before to allow them time to adjust their schedules.
- Be open and honest and tell them that you are interested in the position but you have a conflict and need to reschedule.
- If you have a specific excuse, you don't have to share it in depth, just be concise and to the point.
It is beneficial to avoid cancelling or rescheduling interviews, so do not schedule an interview without first checking your calendar for conflicts. Remember, one lie creates hundreds, one blow off creates a burned bridge.