I'm an immigrant, I moved a year ago to live in the UK. I also struggle with a combination of mental health disorders: BPD, depression and dissociation.

Today I had my first job interview, and it was disaster! I was 20 minutes late because it was a long journey by bus, and then I needed to walk. However, I apologised and they let me in. After I began filling out the forms, I started have negative thoughts. When the interviewer started the interview, I moved towards his colleague's table and said:

I'm sorry. I give up the application for the position, I didn't fill so many details.

Then the interviewer asked me "You're not interested any more?". I said I'm interested. "Do you struggle with English? " he asked. "Yes" I replied.

But it wasn't the true reason. It was a panic attack. I stopped medication months ago and was depressed over the last few weeks.

I need your help to write an apology letter for the mess I did.

  • 30
    In theory, this seems a better fit for the Interpersonal Skill SE; alas, in my experience and observation many of the folks there need to improve their interpersonal skills!
    – GreenMatt
    Nov 8, 2018 at 13:44
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    @GreenMatt: Well, this is not about apologizing in general, but specifically about apologizing for a problematic situation in the workplace, so I'd say it is more on-topic here than on IPS.
    – sleske
    Nov 8, 2018 at 14:33
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    Don't feel too bad. I'd rather have a candidate bail on me before the interview than afterwards. From the description you didn't waste too much of people's time and it's expected that some candidates will drop out. Nov 8, 2018 at 15:24
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    I guess helping someone is worth being off topic, but if you have BPD you NEED medication. It's more urgent than job hunting.
    – Diane M
    Nov 8, 2018 at 15:55
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    Why did you stop medication? Whether it's because of a bad reaction, you didn't think you needed it any more, or whatever else, you should definitely discuss it with your doctor (even if it's just too expensive, your doctor might be able to help you find an alternative). A doctor is there to help you find some solution that works for you specifically, not just write a generic prescription and forget about you. Nov 8, 2018 at 18:08

7 Answers 7


Don't worry about writing an apology letter, try and move forward onto other opportunities instead.

As a priority, you need to work with your doctor on your health/medication issues and get your health and well-being resolved. When you've done that, you'll have a better platform from which to look for work.

Unless you get your health sorted out, you're likely to run into this same issue again and again and again.

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    "Don't bother with the apology letter" is a bit too strong IMHO, as OP apparently feels the need to write one. Wouldn't it be better to just explain why it is not necessary? (Namely: While an apology letter is a nice gesture, it is mostly likely neither expected, nor likely to change the employers perspective.)
    – sleske
    Nov 8, 2018 at 14:37
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    An apology letter is unlikely to achieve much, but what damage can it do? Nov 8, 2018 at 17:39
  • +1 This answer inspired me to write a semi-similar answer bridging the two points (the interviewer getting the apology letter's not going to mean much, the mental health being the important thing) vs (the OP feels the need to apologize).
    – Kevin
    Nov 8, 2018 at 22:27
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    If the apology letter helps the OP with how they feel then they should write one and explain what happened, to thank them for their time and to wish them luck in the future. If the letter won't help the OP then there's no point in writing the letter. Nov 9, 2018 at 8:35
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    I worry that writing an apology letter may just give OP further cause to continue stressing about this situation rather than accepting it and moving on. As a mentally stable person it's easy to say "sure, write a letter for closure and move on", but if you have anxiety this "write a letter" may be a weeks or months long process, and then just become another "thing" of its own. But I don't know, not a doctor, just a person with some experience with anxiety and depression ...
    – xLeitix
    Nov 9, 2018 at 10:38

As @snow indicated, a letter of apology isn't absolutely necessary here. That said, it would be a nice gesture and may make you feel more at ease with yourself. If that's the case, such a letter could be very short and simple:

Dear Interviewer:

Thank you for meeting with me on the date to discuss the employment opportunity. Unfortunately, I could not complete the process. I apologize for that. It is my hope that you have good fortune in filling the position.


Your name

You'll want to change the italicized parts appropriately. Also, tailoring this to better fit your own writing style and the particulars of the situation would be good.

The above is assuming you're not going to pursue this job. There is no guarantee that they would re-consider hiring you, but if you want to try, a modified approach would be in order. In such a case, it might look more like:

Dear Interviewer:

Thank you for meeting with me on the date to discuss the employment opportunity. Unfortunately, I experienced a panic attack and thus could not complete the process. I apologize for that.

If the position is still available, I am still interested. If you would be so kind as to re-consider hiring me, I would like to come in for another interview. Would you be available on (dates when you're available)?


Your name

To be honest, the odds may not be very good for you to be re-considered, so please don't get your hopes up too much. Of course, if they do call you in, you'll need to be able to complete the process.

As @snow said, taking care of yourself is necessary here, as you'll need to be able to function at work once you get a job (this one or another), and - more importantly - for your own well-being.

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    Telling them you'd come in for another interview and suggesting dates might come across as a bit needy or pushy. I might suggest dropping that part and just leaving it with the thanks, apology, explanation and expression of interest. Nov 8, 2018 at 17:44
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    Forget the second suggestion here.
    – Fattie
    Nov 9, 2018 at 12:43

My advice is to not send a letter to the company. Generally, people way overestimate the amount of thought that's given to an applicant that's not given the job. One way of looking at it is: if you went to a car dealership, and looked at 8 cars... how often do you think about the 3rd car you looked at and decided you didn't want? Probably not a lot - you've probably put it out of mind, and are more focused on the car you did buy, or are excited about the car you're about to look at.

Well, it's the same on the other side of the interviewing table. If, after the interview, we decide that the person isn't the right fit for the job... well... we generally don't give them a lot of thought from that point forward. Why would we? We still have to figure out who we're hiring.

Sending a "Thank you for your time" email is a nice touch, but it's not something I'd really even notice if it didn't come. I definitely wouldn't care all that much for a long email/note from an applicant apologizing - it's fine, I've forgotten about it, and I've got other things I need to focus on now.

So here's what I'd recommend: Go ahead and write the apology letter, but don't send it to the interviewer.

Writing the letter might help you get some closure on what happened, or explore how you were feeling during/after the interview, and help put the experience behind you. And, best yet, it might help you do better at the next interview.

  • 9
    "Write a letter to all the people you hate, and then burn them" I did, it made me feel good, but what do I do with the letters now?
    – Lenne
    Nov 9, 2018 at 9:05

Do not bother with the letter.

Concentrate on your health.

Get that fixed and take the medication

  • 3
    I agree with the sentiment. However this sounds like a long term condition, and, bills need to be paid in the meantime
    – rath
    Nov 8, 2018 at 18:31
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    @rath: This is what state benefits are for. There's no point making your condition worse by going through application after application that you're not able to complete. You can be carried while you sort yourself out, then you get a job and repay your debt to society. Nov 9, 2018 at 10:37
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit: Sounds nice, but - depending on the state (admittedly I don't know about the UK) - the benefits may not pay the bills. Many years ago I was laid off and the benefits were only enough to pay my rent - and I lived in a cheap apartment. Food, utilities, medical expenses, etc. had to come out of my dwindling savings. Such a model isn't sustainable over a long period of time (fortunately I was only out of work a couple months).
    – GreenMatt
    Nov 9, 2018 at 20:47

The other answers already cover the main point, forget about trying to fix this interview and look for another one.

The point I'd like to add is planning makes interviews go smoothly. You said you were 20 minutes late because of the long journey. Leave 30 minutes earlier than you need to so you're always on time. You could even do a dry run: travel from home to your interview location a day before to check how long it takes and make sure you won't get lost finding it.

I think this is important because you said you had a panic attack and I think the beginnings of that attack came from being late (of course it being your first interview in a year would also be stressful).

Before the next interview practice with a friend. They ask you 10 standard interview questions and you practice your responses. Another trick I do is research a company beforehand and memorise 3 key points about them. This really impresses interviewers.


Interviewer: So what do you know about our company?

Me: Company X was founded in 20XX, you specialise in X,Y & Z and lead the market in X


Other answers are good but here's another option. If it would make you feel better, call the company instead of writing a letter. This would have the benefit of not leaving a paper trail encase you didn't want them to have on record you suffer from mental illness. Keep it short and simple and say

It's Rowan Mohamed calling. I would like to apologize for not completing the interview last Thursday. I get panic attacks and had one in the moment.

They may ask you if you want to reschedule so have an answer to the question before calling. To decline, you could ad

I've decided I must focus on my health at this time and not able to consider this position

Of course, like the other answers say, you could just do nothing.


What is far more important than writing a letter of apology is for you to understand that

1, the job hunting process is stressful

2, it's stressful for nearly everyone, whether they're recruiting for a job or looking for a job, so it's natural and normal for you to be stressed

3, for some people (such as yourself) it is more stressful than for others

4, This is the important bit you will only make it less stressful by a) preparing and b) pushing yourself through the pain, so that you get habituated to the process, and somewhat inured to the pain. There is no other way around it. It takes a certain amount of faith, but it is true.

Simply, you would have been better off if you had gone through with it, but you gave up. I understand why you did it, but you need to get past this. The interview was just one interview. Next time you go for an interview, just repeat to yourself: this is just one interview, and regardless of the outcome I will feel better afterwards for having gone through it than if I bail for whatever reason. And make sure you are prepared next time: about the position, the company, and crucially where the damned interview is; and make sure you get there 1/2 hour early. Maybe you can grab a coffee or something whilst you mooch around.

Separately, it sounds like you need some help with your mental health. We have an NHS for this. Maybe you can get some help. Speak to your GP. Good luck.

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