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I'm currently working as a software developer and applied for a better position in a big company a week ago. This Monday I received an email asking for an interview today.

I was really enthusiastic for this interview, because the company looks great, and they offer me a nice position with great benefits and that would be a really a big step in my professional career.

But I received an email asking, two hours before the meeting, for a reschedule "due to unforeseen circumstances". The interview has been moved to the next week.

My trust in them has decreased a bit, because I expected from them a good organization and things like this seems unprofessional, and these things are what make you uncomfortable and doubt.

Note that I asked to my current employer free time today for attending this interview, because the new employer and the interviewer were busy and the only time available for them to interview me was during my work time, so what do I tell him now? If I'm attending the interview next week, I need to ask for free time again and that may look really suspicious, but I think this new position would be a really nice opportunity for me.

Are these casual situations? Should I pass and look for other offers?

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    I don't know what responsibilities the interviewer has, but from personal experience I can tell you that if one of my clients has a production issue that has brought down a system, then everything else is put on hold until it's fixed. – Laconic Droid Mar 23 '17 at 12:27
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    Unforeseen circumstances happen, but an email instead of a phone call with only two hours notice is unacceptable. That close to the interview you could have already been en route. – Jonathon Cowley-Thom Mar 23 '17 at 12:33
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    Most extreme case happened to a friend of mine: interview round the world in New Zealand. Flights booked, trip under way; the office where the interview was due to be held was demolished by earthquake. Emergencies happen and you won't always be told what they are. – pjc50 Mar 23 '17 at 14:41
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Mar 25 '17 at 4:21
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    I may just have turned up, denying seeing the e-mail. It could have been handled more professionally. Telephones aren't difficult to use. – Tim Mar 25 '17 at 17:24
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Nothing in this interaction seems unprofessional and I wouldn't be concerned. One example that comes to mind is if a key interviewer was unable to come to the office for something that arose quickly - illness (of self or a family member), emergency at home, or something else that truly was unforeseen. There are also work issues that could have arisen with the team - a number of people out of the office for some reason (see previously) or a situation that needs the team's full attention for business reasons. These would distract the interviewers.

If the right people aren't able to interview you, it doesn't make much sense for you to come in and then need to come in again to meet with these people.

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    Rescheduling isn't unprofessional in itself; but sending an email with only two hours notice instead of making a phone call is inconsiderate. – Jonathon Cowley-Thom Mar 23 '17 at 12:34
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    @JonathonCowley-Thom Personally, I don't think it is. I prefer to interact via email. – Thomas Owens Mar 23 '17 at 12:36
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    With reasonable notice, so do I. But with only two hours notice an interviewee could conceivably already be en route. – Jonathon Cowley-Thom Mar 23 '17 at 12:38
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    @ThomasOwens Yes, it's better. If they are driving they won't answer but they know they've been contacted; and in this time and age, a call usually means something URGENT. They will certainly check it in their next stop (or even pull over), and then they can return the call. If they are in the subway I'd say getting a call is more likely than getting an email. Even if you can't hear them you can call them back when you are out. The important thing is not the call itself, it is the signal that "something happened, we need to talk." I'd call, if unanswered or bad reception: email & re-call – xDaizu Mar 23 '17 at 14:15
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    Sending an email on this short of notice effectively indicates the employer has made the assumption that the interviewee (1) has access to email at a moment's notice and (2) has their technology configured to provide instant notification of an incoming email. (Basically, I imagine they assumed OP has a smartphone connected to email.) In general, this is a safe assumption; in some cases (such as with me, who doesn't have a smartphone) it would be very problematic. – hBy2Py Mar 23 '17 at 14:56
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Note that I asked to my current employer free time today for attending to this interview, because the new employer and the interviewer were busy and the only time available for them to interview me was while my work time, so what do I tell him now ? If i'm attending to the interview next week, I need to ask for free time again and that may look really suspicious, but I think this new position would be a really nice opportunity for me.

Instead of taking time off, ask the interviewing company for a more convenient time. If necessary, you can politely remind them that you are rescheduling on their behalf in order to secure an off hours interview. "I would be happy to reschedule, but that time does not work for me. Do you have any available times [ending before x am or beginning after y pm]? Thank you."

Rescheduling, on short notice, by e-mail is a minor black mark against the company, but the cost of going to the interview (especially if you don't need to use vacation to do so) is low compared to the potential gain if the job is a good fit. If you go to the interview and find other problems with the company, then you are not required to accept a job with them.

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    +1 for asking them to reschedule at a time that's more convenient for you. – FreeMan Mar 23 '17 at 20:34
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    This! OP can use this to gauge the company's behaviour towards employees. The short-notice rescheduling isn't a big no-no in itself - but how they handle it can be a good indicator of how seriously they take themselves vs the OP. If they now just assume that the OP will come in whenever it fits them, I'd de-prioritise the thing and look for something else. If they are apologetic and try to find a time that fits for the OP, I'd take that as a good sign. – AllTheKingsHorses Mar 24 '17 at 11:48
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Are these casual situations? Should I pass and look for other offers ?

It is not unusual at all for interviews to be re-scheduled. Typically the hiring manager has many thing on their plate to deal with besides getting this position filled.

The hiring manager most likely has a boss too, and his boss may have over-ridden his priorities for the day and time he has set aside to discuss the position with you. Or there may have been some sort of support incident that required their attention.

In short, I would not let this affect your feelings towards the company unless it happens over and over again. I would also always have multiple irons in the fire regarding your job search until you find the one you want.

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    Unforeseen circumstances happen. But rescheduling an interview with only two hours notice should only happen in exceptional circumstances. A good company won't jerk an interview candidate around because of a business-as-usual change in the day's work (as this answer sort of implies). – user45590 Mar 24 '17 at 17:11
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    Okay answer, but the hiring manager's boss interfering with the hiring manager's ability to do their job counts as "losing trust in the company." – user42272 Mar 24 '17 at 19:18
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Rescheduling (even on a short notice) is not necessarily unprofessional. The unprofessional thing would be to make you come to the interview only to discover they would need to schedule another one. Considering they have sent an e-mail only two hours before, they almost have let that happen. Anything requiring an action in the next 24 hours would warrant a phone call.

Still, passing on an offer just because of one incident like that doesn't sound wise, unless of course you have another 5 companies in line to interview you, and you can't afford interviewing with everyone.

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    the email was perhaps sent out of consideration (ie, not disturb if an email is sufficient) and they probably would have called a few (10? 20?) minutes later if the person didn't see/reacted to the email ? – Olivier Dulac Mar 23 '17 at 17:41
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    "Anything requiring an action in the next 24 hours would warrant a phone call." I don't think this is at all true in 2017, especially not with developers. – user45590 Mar 24 '17 at 17:20
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Here is a story of mine from the other side of an interview. Perhaps that would provide some insight.

I was once asked to interview a candidate, less than an hour before it started, for a position that's a couple of levels more senior than my title. Apparently the manager who's supposed to do it (someone up in the chain) was suddenly unavailable. Now the position was in a team that we frequently work with, so I was not entirely irrelevant. But I still couldn't help feel sorry for the candidate, and wondered why it was not rescheduled instead.

As it turned out, that manager had another meeting scheduled and didn't inform HR until then. So you can say that this interview was sort of messed up due to unprofessional conducts. But it could just easily be an actual emergency. The point is rescheduling meetings in the last minute does unfortunately happen (and it happens to all of us). Don't rush to conclusion too quickly. I'm sure I'd regret if I miss an exciting opportunity at a great firm simply because an HR intern has messed up my interview schedules.

  • Did the person you intervie wget an offer? And, did they accept? – Mawg Mar 24 '17 at 7:49
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    @Mawg Yes this person got and accepted the offer. – xiaomy Mar 24 '17 at 14:10
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I would say they are either very unlucky or extremely unprofessional. Your first impression of the firm is that they can't keep an appointment. In my experience of interviewing, I have seen a few interviewees waiting around because of the dysfunction of our organisation. I have never seen one wait around because of a genuine emergency or production issue.

I think it's only fair to also question what a manager would think of a candidate who had to reschedule "due to unforseen circumstances", by email, with 2 hours notice. I would be astonished.

Having said this, I wouldn't rule them (or a candidate) out because they had to reschedule at the last minute - but from a candidate I would expect an explanation, and your judgement that it is a red flag is correct.

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It's always okay to reschedule a meeting (including a job interview) due to unforeseen circumstances

In the perfect world, we would never have to reschedule on a short notice. However, life is uncertain and full of surprises. The person who reschedules the interview may but is not obliged to provide an explanation. A vague explanation such as "personal emergency" helps a lot, but if there's not explanation at all, it's good courtesy to assume that there's a very significant reason that forced the other person to reschedule. This rule works both ways.

If someone wants to reschedule a meeting on an extremely short notice,
it's rational to expect from that person to make sure you're properly notified

My opinion is that an e-mail alone does not show a lot of effort in the situation you've described. If an e-mail is sent and you immediately reply and acknowledge, then it's okay. Better would be to send an e-mail and call if there's no reply. Even better - attempt a call and also send a confirmation e-mail. However, a single e-mail 2h before the interview carries a lot of the risk of not being received on time.

Given that there's been an obvious option to mitigate that risk (a phone call), and the other party (such as the interviewer or the interviewing manager) has not pursued that option, I think it's very understandable for you to feel that you've been not treated with enough attention.


Possible action points:

  • It's up to you how much weight you'd like to attribute to this situation when deciding how much to trust the company. What are the other factors that contribute to the company's image in your eyes?

  • If you wish, you may briefly mention during the interview that the way the meeting had been rescheduled left you feeling uncomfortable because you expected to be informed in a way that didn't carry the risk of being easily overlooked. This is valuable and actionable feedback to bring. Please make sure to formulate it in a careful way so that it doesn't sound like a demand or a complaint.

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A personal note that hasn't been mentioned (situation is slightly different on timings, but otherwise the same):

My friend hit this situation; he got emailed that the interview was to be rescheduled due to the main interviewer not being available. He received this while on the train to the city where the interview was going to take place; he was staying overnight at a hotel which he had already booked.

He immediately phoned the company back telling them that he had already spent quite a bit of money on a train journey and hotel stay, and could he come in for the interview anyway? End result: he got interviewed anyway, as the only candidate that day, and got the job. I'm not saying that being the only candidate interviewed helped him get the job, but it certainly can't have hurt.

My advice is to contact the company immediately and explain why this is inconvenient and come up with a mutual timing that is acceptable: the results might be surprising!

(Context, large company interviewing in the UK)

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You're concerned that this may indicate that this company has deeper underlying problems, such as being a chaotic workplace or generally treating their employees inconsiderately. Neither the last-minute cancellation of the interview or the use of email to notify you is a reliable sign of problems of this kind. They may have had something really serious come up at the last minute that led to the cancellation, and there are various reasons why they may have figured that email was the best way to reach you.

What might be a better indicator would be the social aspects of how they have handled the situation.

  1. In their email, did they apologize? An apology costs them nothing, and it's to be expected in this situation. Even if, in their eyes, this was totally unforeseeable and unavoidable, it still calls for an apology.

  2. In their email, did they make any attempt to explain the reason?

  3. Did their communications with you show some recognition that this was a serious failure on their part? Personally, I have interviewed a lot of people and have never even come close to not showing up to interview them. If I had ever failed to do so, I would have considered it a big, big failure on my part. I would have felt bad about showing up 5 minutes late.

If they did these things, then I don't see any reason to be concerned. If they didn't, then they don't sound like people I would want to work for.

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