Could Canceling an Interview Hurt Chances of Hiring?

A few weeks ago I canceled an interview because I was extremely sick, and I didn't want to spread my germs to the family which included two very young children. I called and explained the situation and apologized. Mom said she understood and we scheduled a date for the following weekend. Well two days before the interview I got a call from mom saying they had hired someone, and I was no longer needed. She said that I had seemed lovely over the phone, and my resume and references were fantastic, and that she and her husband were looking forward to meeting me, but they had not liked that I had canceled the first interview and had to go with someone more reliable. I didn't say anything other than thanking her for the opportunity and wishing them well. My question is, was I wrong to cancel? Parents would you view a nanny that cancels the first interview as unreliable even if all her references say otherwise?


MissDee said...

I had the same thing happen to me for a job. This was an interview for occasional childcare, and while at work, I started to feel ill. The interview was scheduled for after work, and I called the mother to let her know I wasn't able to make it. Her voicemail picked up, and I politely let her know I wasn't feeling well and was unable to meet with her that evening. About an hour later, she returned my call, letting me know she was not interested in rescheduling; she mentioned she was a nanny, and as a nanny AND a parent, she thought I was unreliable. She also asked me how I was a professional when I clearly demonstrated I wasn't by cancelling the interview. She further stated that as a nanny, I am a poor excuse due to my unreliability, immaturity, and lack of respect. Apparently, she specifically set aside a block of time for me to meet her, when she could've used the time for a more mature candidate. I was flabbergasted, and after listening to her degrade me, I was glad I didn't meet her, because she appeared to be a total bitch. I later found out she was fired from her nanny position.

Everyone gets sick from time to time, and I believe that cancelling an interview due to illness is most appropriate. If I were a parent and I had an interview scheduled and the nanny was sick, I wouldn't be upset if she cancelled due to illness.

Illness is part of life. Unfortunately, some employers think the world revolves around them, thinking that being sick is no excuse not to show up for work. These are the worse people to work for, because they have a tendency to nitpick everything.

If your references speak of your reliability and point out why you are the best candidate for the position, you have nothing to worry about. This family sounds ridiculous: what if you had gotten into a car accident and were in the hospital or had a serious injury that prevented you from going to the interview? Would you be considered unreliable then?

Life happens. Apparently this family doesn't understand that.

The Noble Nanny said...

I wouldn't worry about it. You can't control getting sick. The reality is, if this family was that rude about you're not feeling well before they even met you, think about how hard it would be if you needed a personal/sick day in the future.

Ultimately, that woman did you a favor by picking someone else. Doesn't sound like she is someone you would want to work for!

UmassSlytherin said...

I don't think you did the wrong thing. I think that it did have something to do with your not getting the job: you have to be in the right place at the right time to get jobs, and the other chick was in the right place at the right time.

I think the mother had some nerve telling you that you were not reliable: was that really neccessary? I don't think so. A classy person would have just left it at "we went with someone else."

Don't sweat it. You'll find a better job.

ZzmOm said...

I probably would have called, explained I was ill, and asked if they wanted to reschedule vs cancelling....

Bethany said...

@zzmom, it sounds as though they rescheduled at the same time she canceled.

Honestly, Op it's just the luck of the draw, the girl who was their got the job.

I don't think you were wrong to cancel and want to reschedule due you you being extremely ill.

This mother probably would have told you how irrresponsible you were had you shown up at her house to interview while sick.

Had you been hired, you probably wouldn't have received sick days.

I really don't see why she needed to tell you she thought you were unreliable. Bizarre.

This one wasn't for you. Keep looking . Hope you find the right job for you soon.

RBTC said...

i am going to be the devil's advocate and detail the harsh part of this

i own a successful family oriented catering co. and i have been hiring people to work with kids for 30 years

i have learned thru hard experience to very carefully watch 100 % exactly what people do and say re: the interview

are they on time? what are they wearing? do they show up? On the phone what is their voice like?

You wouldn't believe the amount of people who call saying " i want to work with kids" and they sound so depressed like someone shot their dog.

so - here is something to know - unless your prospective employer is stupid - and i have been stupid-they know that right NOW when you are applying you will be THE BEST they will see you - you will be putting your best foot forward

so - basically- cancelling for any reason - this is unfair, yes,- puts you at an incredible disadvantage.

If you cancel an interview - and you are actually VERY reliable and canceling the interview is a fluke - you are unusual

i have hired people who cancel the interview because of illness, family emergency, other things - and 90% of the time - that's the way their life is - they are prone to illness because of their immune system, their husband/wife is pissed they have taken a second job/they have a huge family that always needs them to cancel/ they are on call for an elderly relative feeling poorly/ they are students and need money but do not know how to plan time/tests/classes/they just have alot going on etc

so--yep, canceling the interview does not look good - it's unfair, but it's a reality

my advice is to be very very careful when you schedule and interview and if yoiu feel so bad you want to reschedule here is a good line---

" i am feeling a little under the weather which NEVER happens and i would have to be six feet under to not be at work - so i will leave it to your discretion to have the interview or reschedule"

and then if the mom reschedules - be ready for her to meet with other people and hire one - it's the nature of it ;)

luckoftheirish said...

Could cancelling an interview hurt your chances of being hired? Absolutely. The parents interviewing you do not know you. They have limited information to base their decision on. If you're sick for the interview, I would expect to be passed over. From the pov of the parents, they would probably worry that you're unreliable or unhealthy. Could you be the best nanny and very healthy? Of course. But when it comes to caring for our children, parents can't be too cautious. I think its just one of those unfortunate situations where you've lost the job, due to circumstances beyond your control. I believe fate has a way of looking out for you, I would not stress over this. It happened for good reason. What that is, you may never know. But have faith that you'll find something better for you!

1234 said...

Don't you know you're never to get sick?

Good grief!

I assume you're American this is the land of 24/7 work life and no vacations.

If you wanted the job so badly you should have shown up to the interview.

Pop a benadryl and tylenol next time and suck it up!

MissWI said...

@1234 I agree! the family probably views you as someone who will call in sick frequetly
if you were "too sick" to go to the interview which required no actual work at all then it proves you have no tolerance and will prove unreliable and call in sick when you have small symptoms like a runny nose or headache

I go to work with headaches, nausea, and colds. Aside from the headaches, the family is probably the reason I'm sick anyways so I don't worry about getting anyone ill.

Suck it up. Could you drive? Could you talk? Could you think clearly? You should have went...a measly hour of your "sick" time could have easily worked in your favor by landing you a job. You had the rest of the day to lay in bed and rest.

leftcoastmama said...

Mom view here:

If you were truly as sick as you say I probably would not have been thrilled with you showing up at my house.

But, at the same time my interest is in finding a nanny in my time frame not waiting around for you even if you sound great by phone and on paper I haven't met you . What if she were to have waited around for you and decided you weren't a good fit for her and missed out on the other nanny because someone else snatched her up in the meantime? You catch my drift?

I'm sorry you missed out. It's not one of those wrong or right things it just is.

Hope you get an interview and job soon.

RBTC said...

i agree with the above posters - very good advice

i did a catering job today with kids with one of my best independent contractors - she let me know very much ahead of time that she has laryngtis and hurting but wants to work with the kids anyway, not contagious

she did a great job - i could tell she was having trouble talking, maybe had a fever - she will see a doctor tomorrow - But ... she did not disappoint the kids...and the client is happy and the kids are happy and we are scheduling her to keep doc appointmnets

but - canceling overnight - red flag, might be good person,red flag

luckoftheirish said...

As a parent, I do NOT want a sick person in my home. One persons cold can be a small childs RSV. Id be grateful someone thought of my families needs above their own.

nycmom said...

You were not wrong for cancelling. I agree with others that I would have phrased it more as an option for the parents by detailing your symptoms and letting them decide to give the impression that you are willing to work, but want to respect their preferences. I actually highly doubt your cancelling had anything to do with you not getting the job. It is just a function of timing. The parents were obviously going to continue to interview and happened to find a good fit prior to your interview.

I do think it is a bad sign (on the parents) that they would even mention your cancelling the interview as a reason why they did not hire you. I can't imagine saying that to an interviewee I had never met when all available information was to the contrary. Yes, in the back of my mind cancelling the interview might raise some mild doubts for me as a parent, but I would *never* blame a nanny I had never even met or interviewed for this. And I am one of those parents who greatly values reliability and has the kind of job where you go into work unless you are literally too sick to walk.

You did nothing wrong. Just timing and luck against you. You sound like you handled their comments with grace and maturity.

Nanny Franny said...

Nannies are just like everyone else in that they can get sick anytime, anyplace,etc.

OP, you did nothing wrong here and it was not your fault that you got sick.

However, life is unfair and this situation is just one perfect example of what I mean.

You can never get a second chance to make a first impression and unfortunately, this family is going by their first impression of you.

The fact that you missed an interview makes them think that you will be the type of nanny who calls in sick often.

Unfair judgement, I know. I don't agree w/it, but that is life.

Truthfully, I would not want to work for someone who was as blatant as this woman.

Consider yourself blessed that she hired someone else.

Good luck and I hope you find your dream job soon OP!

Village said...

Yes. Did I say yes? I mean, OF COURSE.

If there is ever a delicate issue with parents, it's the nanny showing up. They want a nanny they can depend on, and however unfair it is, being late or not showing up is a red flag. The parents are thinking if we hire her and she is undependable, it'll be our fault because SHE CANCELLED ON THE INTERVIEW.

Some parents are also unreasonable about illness, if it's the nanny. Nannies can't/shouldn't get sick. So this was a double blow to the interviewers.

Nannykins said...

I don't think you were 'wrong' to cancel the interview, and it sounds like your intentions were very good.

That being said, it would have been better to call and explain that you were very sick, and concerned about spreading germs, and then leave it up to the parent. Most parents do not want a very sick person around their young chldren (and would have probably been upset if you had shown up really sick without giving them a heads up) but, it looks better if it was 'their idea' to reschedule the interview.

I have worked with the same family for almost a year and, even now, I still only stay home sick when the parents tell me to. I call and say, 'this is how I'm feeling and these are my symptoms, what do you want me to do'. If I am well enough to drive, then I am there if they need me (luckily though, they do not take advantage of this). Again, I think you were only trying to be considerate of this family, and this was simply a bad judgement call due to never having been in the situation before - just remember that, if this situation ever comes up again, it's always best to let the parents know what is going on and then leave the decision up to them. Whether they decide to reschedule the interview or proceed as planned, they will appreciate you letting them know you were sick, as well as your willingness to come anyway.

Phoenix said...

this is a tricky situation but to answer your question, yes it will hurt your chances.

Even if you are sick you should have gone. You should have called ahead of time and warned them you were ill and that you would still come for the interview and be on time. That would give them the chance to make the decision if they wanted to meet with you or not. If they said they didn't mind and still wanted to see you, then you go.

RBTC said...

nycitymom - i always agree 100% with you so it's slightly fun to disagree slightly with you ;)

i think it's very helpful to the OP that the woman WAS rude to her

in my business there is a learning curve and the jerks who were intolerant and rude to me were actually a service ( jerks that they are)

sometimes you may be making a mistake and not know it - if a potential employer says nothing and simply does not hire you or use your co in the future - or makes up a "different" more tactful reason - then you can make the same mistake again

What the op has learned here will be good for her life - canceling the first impression interview probably means you will not get another one - so know that in advance ;0)

Nan said...

I would be ticked that you canceled. I don't care what the reason. You showing up even I'll would tell me how serious and dedicated you are to the job, so I would really be keen regarding your interview. I don't buy your excuse. You're just trying to justify why it was OK. Do you realize it is NOT ok and looks bad on your part, as you've wasted a potential employers time ? I don't like flakes. To me what you did is flakey. I never call in sick. Even once when I went to work and came home and threw up, and knew I wasn't feeling well. I sucked it up because people are counting on me. For me, uneas it's an ER situation. I show up !!!

MissMannah said...

Wow, I can't believe that some people are saying you should have gone into the interview sick. I think that is very irresponsible and if I was a parent and a sick person showed up on my doorstep, I would be pissed.

The exact same thing happened to me once. I had STREP and had to cancel an interview. Everyone knows it is highly contagious so if they think I should have gone to the interview anyway, they're nuts. Anyway, I emailed the mom telling her to email me back with a day to reschedule and didn't hear back from her for like 2 or 3 weeks, when she finally told me she had hired someone else. I figured if she got mad that I got sick then I was better off not working for her anyway.

Fiona said...

No , I don't think you were wrong to cancel because you were sick.

Your health and well being are paramount. You seem young, so it would be good for you now to not start the terrible habit of sacrificing anything and everything for your job or a potential job.

It's not worth it.

Did it cost you this job? Maybe. Who's to say you would have got it even if you went on with the interview.

Some parents might feel that way others not. These were parents that cared you and they weren't a match.

Razzle Dazzle said...

I supposed the potential-MB (or 24-hour-rain-or-shine supernannies)would not had been satisfied until you coughed up a lung or hurled on her shoes.

Anyway, kudos to you for being considerate of others' health. I agree with the others who said that you probably are better off not working for that family. Good luck in the future!

luckoftheirish said...

Nan, Im not impressed. Its beyond selfish to go to work when youre "extremely ill"(ops words). I dont think you should sacrafice anything (other peoples health) & everything (other peoples health) for a job.

How is cancelling wasting an employers time? Its not. She wasnt a no-show. She called in advance. Im certain the employer has plenty of other things she can fill her time with. Its not like she's going to sit there and stare at the wall for the alloted time.

What don't you buy? What do you assume is an excuse? Are you saying that you're assuming OP wasn't extremely sick and just made that up? Because that benefits her, how exactly? Why on earth would you assume she was lying? And you'd be ticked that she cancels because she is sick? If that's really how you feel, you sound like you'd be a nightmare of an employer. People get sick. And if they care more about the health of the people around them than their attendence, they will occasionally call in sick. Employers know this. That is why they even go as far as paying sick employees to stay home, when they are sick!! Because having one employee out sick is better than having illness spread, infecting other employees, clients or in the case of a nanny, having small children get sick. An adults cold can be an infants RSV. RSV is deadly and a very scary thing to witness your child go through.

As a parent, I know first hand how disapointing it is when a nanny cancels an interview. And honestly, I do not consider them after that. As unfair as it may be. I had this happen recently to me. There was a bit more to the story and it wasn't illness, nevertheless had it been, I wouldn't have been angry or assumed she was lying. There is just no basis for that, imo.

Bethany said...

Funny little story for you I'm in the process of looking for a new job for when my current position ends.

I applied last night 11:30pm. The posting had just gone up. Received an email to call mom this morning.

Unfortunately, the little ones I care for where in rare form today and I couldn't call her at nap time.

So I call her an hour ago, when I got home.

They had just intervied and hired someone just this afternoon.

I don't say this to mean you should have gone to the interview sick, but just to give you an idea how quickly things move.

Especially now, when there are many many skilled nannies seeking work and very few nanny jobs.

Nanny Sarah said...

With tons of people seeking nanny jobs and very few nanny positions available (damn this economy!!), I think you should always act quickly. I have missed phone calls and returned them as soon as I could only to be told, "We just hired someone today!"

In other words, you lose.

Perhaps unjust, but it is the reality of the job market of today.