Just like you don't want to burn bridges when you quit your job, you shouldn't burn bridges when you need to cancel an interview. You never know when your path will cross with that recruiter or that potential hiring manager again. Leave a positive impression when you cancel an interview by handling it like a professional.
Let them know you aren't coming.
Unless you're incapacitated, there's no excuse for simply not showing up. Inform the interviewer that you're unable to make the appointment. Try to give the company enough time so people aren't left with holes in their schedules.
Apologize and offer a reason.
Don't grovel, but offer a sincere apology for disrupting schedules. You shouldn't make a lengthy justification, but it's polite to offer a reason for the cancelation. If you don't want to share details, just explain that you're unable to make the meeting.
Use the phone.
Text messages are too casual for an important professional communication like this. Use email if you need to, but using the phone is more personal. Particularly if you want to reschedule rather than cancel permanently, having a phone conversation conveys that you are interested. It also allows you to coordinate a new interview time without a lot of back and forth emails.
Ask to reschedule.
Don't rely on the company reading between the lines of your message. If you want to come in at another time, be explicit and ask to reschedule. If you aren't interested in the position any longer, tell the company you've decided not to pursue this opportunity.
Take a moment before you cancel your interview to think through your reasons for canceling and to make sure they're good ones. If you're canceling because you're afraid you aren't qualified for the position, reschedule instead of canceling completely, and boost your confidence by doing a practice interview or reviewing the technical subject matter. Don't talk yourself out of pursuing what might be a great opportunity.
If you've canceled an interview because you knew the opportunity wasn't right for you but are still looking for a new job, The Armada Group can help. We've been matching great candidates to top open jobs for more than 20 years. We'll take the time to understand what you're looking for and match you to jobs that will challenge and excite you. Contact us to get the interviews that get you your dream job.