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How to write an email to schedule an interview

Calendly, July 01, 2020

On its face, inviting a candidate to an interview might seem like a simple task — just suggest a reasonable time to come in and chat, right? You might be surprised to learn that there's much more to the process.

Grasping the finer points of how to write an email to schedule an interview can make all the difference in whether or not a candidate will accept. Here's what you'll need to know to make your scheduling emails stand out from the pack.

Why the interview email invitation matters

Let's first consider why such a seemingly simple email can have such a far-reaching impact. The process of finding a new job is a lengthy one, with numerous hurdles contributing to the amount of stress and uncertainty job-seekers endure. Here are some facts on the matter:

  • According to the Randstad human resource consulting firm, 82% of Americans feel that searching for a new job is an overall stressful experience, and job hunters take about 5 months on average to finally secure a new position.

  • That job hunt will typically see candidates create four different versions of their resume, submit seven separate applications, attend five job interviews and submit four cover letters.

  • More than half of job seekers have had an interview go poorly.

  • MRINetwork's 2017 Recruiter Sentiment Survey found that a majority of candidates believe the job market is weighted towards employers, putting candidates at a disadvantage.

  • On average, it takes between three and six weeks to go from the initial interview to an actual offer. Employers will go through three to five interviews to make an offer, but 60% of candidates felt compelled to reject the most recent offer they received because it didn't meet their expectations.

In short, job searching is a lot of work. Not every interview invitation is worth the effort because the position or the compensation may not be up to a candidate's standard. Consequently, prospects have to budget their limited energy and time while job hunting.

If your interview request seems flippant, lacks important details or contains unclear instructions, job seekers may well conclude that your HR team doesn't care. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that they'll spare themselves some anticipated mental anguish by declining your invitation.

Conversely, if you view the interview invitation as an important first step — a chance to make a positive first impression — you're more likely to entice job seekers to spend some of their limited time on you. The following tips will put you on the right track.

First things first: establish your tone

Establishing the right tone for your scheduling emails is critical, as it will influence the mood of the interview to follow. Generally speaking, you'll want to use upbeat, conversational language in your message to remain approachable. After all, what good is an invitation if it doesn't sound inviting?

From the onset, your goal should be to connect with job seekers. Keep in mind, though, that there's a delicate balance you'll need to strike here. With multiple candidates to schedule, you might not have the time to fully personalize every message you send out. However, a formulaic or generic request will sound robotic and hurt your chances of attracting job seekers.

Templates can be helpful for structuring your emails and saving time, so long as you're aware of the fact that the circumstances surrounding each interview can vary. Having several approaches to lean on will aid you in nailing the perfect mood for your scheduling emails. Here are three basic interview scenarios you should always be prepared for.

Scheduling a phone interview

For the job seeker, the opportunity for a phone interview is a common, yet encouraging step in their hunt. It gives them a chance to learn more about your organization, while also introducing their background and explaining to you why they are a good match for the position.

Templates for scheduling phone interviews should read as friendly and un-intimidating, highlighting the low-pressure nature of the call and informing your potential hire that you’re eager to learn about their experience. Furthermore, you'll want to emphasize that you are more than willing to provide specifics about your company and the role in question.

Scheduling an in-person interview

A staggering 93% of job interviewees feel anxious and, for many, in-person interviews are the most anxiety-inducing part of the process. While some of the onus falls on candidates to control their nerves, you can use the scheduling email as an opportunity to help diffuse their tension and build rapport.

Start by showing your genuine interest in their background and informing your prospective hire that you're earnest about taking the interview process to the next level with an in-person meeting. 

In addition, your template for an in-person interview request should be accommodating to their schedule. Not all candidates can make it to you at the drop of a hat, and flexibility goes a long way in helping them feel comfortable before the interview.

Reaching out to a cold candidate

Cold (AKA passive) candidates aren't beating your door down for an interview, so you've got to put in some extra work to draw them in. Personalization is particularly important here.

Since you're emailing this prospect out of the blue, you'll need to be concise while still maintaining that friendly tone. Start by showing that you've done your research on their background, making a note of their particular skills and why you believe they'd be an asset for your organization. Offer to explain in greater detail via a call, and be sure to include some information about the job in your email.

Crafting your scheduling email

With your tone set and goals in sight, it's time to start writing. In order for your emails to successfully woo potential candidates, you'll need to include all the details said candidates will need to thoroughly prepare and (hopefully) knock that interview out of the park. You should include the following:

Include the "what"
  • After a brief greeting, you should clarify exactly what position your candidate will be interviewing for. Some job seekers will know this already, but others won't. Including this information upfront helps eliminate any potential misunderstandings.

  • You should include the full name of your company and avoid using only logos or images, as these might not show up properly on some email platforms.

  • Lay out the topics of discussion for the interview. This might just be a "getting to know you" chat, or it could be a more intense conversation that puts the candidate's knowledge to the test. Either way, you should make the agenda clear so your potential hires can prepare accordingly.

  • Be sure to let the candidate know if they need to bring any items to the interview, such as a portfolio, their ID, or copies of their resume.

Include the "who"
  • Names are important, especially when more than one will be involved with the interview process. Lead with the name of the hiring manager, then follow up with additional interviewers so that your candidate knows exactly who they'll be speaking to.

  • If your organization has a receptionist that the candidate will have to check in with upon their arrival, be sure to include their name as well.

Include the "where"
  • You know where your company is located, but don't assume your interviewee does. In addition to an address, provide in-person candidates with instructions for navigating to your office and accessing the premises.

  • For phone interviews, provide candidates with dialing instructions, and, if it's an online meeting, be sure to include links for accessing the appropriate conference room.

Include the "when"
  • Now, for the scheduling portion of your email. You can suggest a few times that you have available and ask the candidate which matches their availability, or you can ask them to suggest a few times and work around their schedule.

  • Alternatively, if you're taking advantage of automated scheduling tools like Calendly, you can provide candidates with a calendar that lists your availabilities. This will allow them to self select the time that works best for them and eliminate any guesswork or back-and-forth.

  • Regardless of how you choose to schedule, be sure to let the candidate know how long you expect the interview to take.

Include the "how"
  • Include additional information about how you will conduct the interview. Will it be a one-on-one interview? A group interview? A video conference? Include as much detail as possible so your candidate knows exactly what to expect.

A final word

Don't overlook the power of a well-crafted interview invitation. The tone you set and the information you include in your scheduling email can make all the difference — not only in whether or not a potential candidate accepts your request, but also in how well they prepare for the interview. 

Remember to maintain a friendly, approachable tone in your communication, be flexible with your scheduling arrangements and include all relevant information. This will help you make a good impression on potential new hires, making them more likely to come in for an interview and eventually accept an offer.

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Calendly's modern scheduling automation takes the work out of connecting with others so you can accomplish more.

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