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How long is too long to hear back from potential postdoc

PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2016 3:31 pm
by CHG
Hello fellow Scientists,

I am a long time reader of this forum who finally decided to register to ask help.
Having completed my PhD 8 months back and working my way through tons of applications, I am now at a situation where a great lab (newly funded national lab with old profs) is taking too much time to decide on my candidature.
Briefly, I have 2 more labs which have shown interest and want to know if I can make it to them by June 2016. This great lab is the 3rd one which I really love to be in, but he is taking time since November 2015 to decide. Every month I mail him and he says that I am a good candidate and that the references he received from my referees are good etc etc. But somehow he gives no confirmation. This was a publicly advertised position, so no question of no funds. They have plenty of it from NIH. I also did well in interview and it was like he almost accepted me.

What can I do? How else can I ask? Can I politely say I have 2 positions and I need to decide something before April?. I have a feeling that will be rude and will end any chance I have in his lab. Please shower your advices.

CHG

Re: How long is too long to hear back from potential postdoc

PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2016 5:55 pm
by Dick Woodward
There is no reason why you cannot politely inform the prof that you have to make a decision by April, and, that while you would really like to join his lab, you have to make a decision in a fixed time frame - could he therefore let you know what the status is.

My daughter had the same issue (in a different field). She sent that sort of e-mail - "you're my first choice, but I have another offer" - and immediately heard back with an offer.

In my opinion, if the prof is annoyed that you asked this question, this is not a place that you want to work. The prof will have basically demonstrated that he has no concern for his postdocs, and I don't think that it will be a happy experience working there.

I had the mirror image of your situation when I moved into industry. The company that I felt that I wanted to join made me the first offer - before I had even interviewed with the other two. I called the hiring manager and said "I think that I want to work with you, but I owe it to myself to go on the other two interviews so that I am certain." (The interviews were all within a week or two.) His comment was something to the effect of "Go ahead - I want you to be certain that this is the place for you so that you will be happy and productive." By the way, it was a great place to work.

Best of luck.

Dick

Re: How long is too long to hear back from potential postdoc

PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2016 10:30 am
by CHG
Thanks a lot Dick. As you point out, the Prof shouldn't be annoyed with my polite request. Come what may, I am going to go ahead and shoot him a final mail.

Will report back when I hear from him. Fingers crossed.

Re: How long is too long to hear back from potential postdoc

PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2016 7:08 am
by Lydia
I would call, not email.

Good luck!

Re: How long is too long to hear back from potential postdoc

PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2016 1:29 pm
by CHG
Update: Got reply that they have selected two more candidates and have kept me on standby.
Basically, he wanted to say that I am not selected. :(

Life goes on and I am looking at more opportunities. Thanks for the help fellow scientists.

Re: How long is too long to hear back from potential postdoc

PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2016 11:14 am
by D.X.
Personally, if I were you, I would write an email, thanking that Professor for thier consideration of your application, with a note that you would have appreciated earlier notification of your short-listed candidate status and more responsiveness to repeated inquiry as professional courtesy and respect.

wish them best of luck and sign off.

I think bad behavior should be called out.

DX

Re: How long is too long to hear back from potential postdoc

PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2016 8:35 am
by PG
I agree with DX that writing a thank you note is appropriate but would probably have left out the part about saying that you would have appreciated an earlier response.
In reallity not having an answer in this situation shouldnt have any negative impact on you. As long as you dont have a clear yes from an academic group or company you should assume that the answer will be no and keep looking. The only case in which an urgent reply is needed is if you are in the happy situation of having to choose between two positions ie you have a clear yes from one group and you feel like you are a likely candidate for another position that you applied for and that you woudl prefer. In this type of situation you clearly need a fast reply for the second position.

Re: How long is too long to hear back from potential postdoc

PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2016 8:40 am
by CHG
Thanks PG and DX. I did say thank you and all the best for the new candidate that he had selected, but couldn't gather courage to say that he was pushing time.
Actually, on skype he was very clear that he has no other candidate and that he will just convince his Director and get back to me with another skype call between all 3 of us, but he ended up pushing that for 5 months and that's what put me into this situation. Thank god I had other options.

I appreciate this forum and its contribution. Thanks again.

Re: How long is too long to hear back from potential postdoc

PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2016 10:25 pm
by Dick Woodward
CHG:

Please keep contributing to this forum. While information from the "been there, done that" types (I include myself here) is certainly important, equally important is affirmation from people like yourself that the advice that we are giving is actually useful.

I wish you much success.

Dick