Job interviews are not golden tickets to new jobs, they are general admission tickets to being considered for the position. Even so, having a ticket at all is a big deal and you want to be as prepared as humanly possible to make that first impression. There is, however, always that possibility that some unforeseen circumstance will surface at absolutely the wrong time and leave you with little choice but to reschedule your interview.
Hopefully, you never have to use these tips but here they are just in case.
1. Make sure your reason is valid
First of all, you need to have a legitimate reason for rescheduling. Feeling nervous all of a sudden or not finding the right outfit do not count. Remember that you have little to no power in this situation and rescheduling will actually hurt your chances at getting the position. While each company or interviewer's level of forgiveness and tolerance for these situations will vary, its always a good idea to be on your toes. Evaluate the situation at hand and consider all angles to be on the safe side.
Health - If you are contagious, incapacitated, sneezing/coughing/vomiting all over the place, you're going to have to reschedule. If you want to brave through it, that's very noble of you but spare the interviewer the risk of catching whatever it is you have.
Personal - If there is a sudden death in the family or a personal emergency that needs urgent attending to, attend to it. In this case, distinguishing what qualifies as an "emergency" is the debate at hand. Its good to keep in mind that if it can wait, let it.
Travel - Some people come from farther provinces or even different islands and they need to account for more irregular travel time. If your interview was scheduled for Tuesday at 10:00am but you couldn't book anything before Tuesday at 8:30am, don't even try to catch that flight. Reschedule.
Work - If you are still working at your current job and can't manage to get time off for the interview or if a rush project or meeting suddenly come up, you're going to have to reschedule one thing or another. You don't want to become a bad shot at your current job without a new one waiting.
2. Act fast and inform the interviewer right away
Since there isn't an easy way to do it, you might as well get it over with quickly. You gain absolutely nothing by beating around the bush. More than anything, you want to respect the interviewer's time and salvage any chances you had at getting the job.
Once you realize that you won't be able to make it, let the interviewer know ASAP. If they allow you to reschedule, don't take this as a sign that you to have more time to prepare. Ask to reschedule your interview as close to the original time and date as possible. If they can squeeze you in the following day, that's great. Later that afternoon? Even better. Be flexible to the interviewer's schedule. You want to give the interviewer the smallest window possible to think negatively of you.
3. Be aware of your delivery
If you can, call the interviewer to let them know what happened. There's no need to tell them all the nitty gritty details of your food poisoning. Keep things professional. You want to relay enough information to validate the legitimacy of your excuse but be careful not to veer into the unnecessary. If you can't make a call, your next move is to email them. Again, explain just enough of your situation.
Apart from the mode of delivery, you want to consider the manner of delivery. Even when the odds aren't in your favor, always remember to be tactful. Be sure to tell them your name and that you are an applicant. Ask if they're free to take your call and if not, when would be a good time. This phone call or email will now become your first impression, you still want to make it a good one.
4. Have a follow through plan
The battle doesn't end after things have settled down and you managed to get your reschedule. You are now at a disadvantage compared to the other candidates who made it to their interviews. Remember, be gracious. You want the interviewer to know that you are truly thankful for this second chance and even if you said so on the phone or in your email, send a follow-up thank you in the form of a note or a simple card. Have a solid follow-through plan to make up for any shortcomings on your part and you should still be able to impress.
Needing to reschedule an interview is not the worst thing that can happen.