Should I follow-up?

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Should I follow-up?

Postby Rohini » Sun Dec 12, 2004 1:25 am

I have applied to several assistant professorships this past fall and am waiting to hear back from universities. I have one interview so far, but no others and I am starting to panic! There are a couple universities that I am especially keen on working for and in which I feel I would 'fit' well research-wise. I was contacted by one of the faculty at an university of interest who wanted me to apply for the job posting. However, since then, I haven't heard from this university (it has been 1 month) and I know that someone else has been asked to interview for the position I had applied to. Should I contact the professor who had initially contacted me to inquire into the status of my application or is this being pushy or too aggressive. I don't want to come across like I am pushy, but I am curious as to whether I made the short list.

I've heard competing views about how much someone should pursue academic positions. What is your advice? After submitting an application and getting confirmation of receipt of applications do I just patiently wait to see if I get interviews or do I contact universities of interest and enquire about my application status? Will I be mailed official rejection letters if they are not interested?

Thanks for you help. This whole process is as stressful as defending!!

Should I follow-up?

Postby Emil Chuck » Sun Dec 12, 2004 9:10 am


My vote is for following-up.

I'd suggest reading through the forums at the Chronicle for Higher Education too (, you'll have to dig a bit to find theirs but it's there). I think the general expectation of playing the game is:

a) Send the committee a thank-you letter after your interview. I don't know if you did that.

b) If you haven't heard from the committee a month out, I'd contact the secretary of the office to inquire about your status. You can contact the professor who initially contacted you to see if you can get a clue as for how fast the process is moving in the department and what political issues are in play.
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Should I follow-up?

Postby Val » Sun Dec 12, 2004 7:29 pm


The one who has not been in the job application game before, will be behaving like you are doing now. You might think it will be an unthinkable disaster if you do not get a job, and you are stressed now. Hmm. Some people indeed do not get jobs after finishing their PhD. They start working in the hospitality jobs or get an unemployment benefit, all the time applying for jobs. They finally get the job. In Australia, it takes a year for a scientist to find another job. In the US, it could be 3-4 months. If you go through such a job searching process a few times over several years, you will not be as stressed about such minute details as if you are invited for an interview for that particular job etc. In order to relief your stress now, I would recommend you to think through the scenario which you dread. Imagine what would happen to you, step by step. After that you realise that the experience was not as horrible as you thought. This will help to reduce your stress, or may even take it out alltogether.

You can contact the interviewer before they have sent you a notification about the outcome of your interview. This will not generally affect their descision-making process. However, if you feel stressed, and as a result you piss them off, this may make them lower their opinion about you (this will make them prefer the other candidate over you if all other qualities are equal, or completely chuck you out). Though, in reality, they have already arrived at the decision as to whom to hire, so your (polite) talking to them will make no effect on the outcome of their decision-making process.

You think your PhD defence was stressful... and guess what ? -- getting the right job-searching experience is an order of magnitude more as stressful !

Also, my observation shows that if someone does not have an asst prof or solid postdoc offer by the end of their PhD, they probably do not have what it takes to be successful in the academia "career".


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Should I follow-up?

Postby AL » Sun Dec 12, 2004 10:09 pm

Definitely follow up. I'm impressed that the professor you mentioned was trying to recruit you! This means that people are saying positive things about you. This is a very good thing.

However it sounds like the person who attempted to recruit you may have been overruled. He or she may be feeling a little embarassed about this. When you talk, try not to make it sound like you are horribly disappointed. Even if you don't get an interview this time around, you may end up top of the list during the next hiring period. Tell him (her?) that you are still interested in a position and to please keep you in mind when other spots open up.

I have a friend who interviewed at a school but didn't get the job. However, the next year they did hire her. The lesson: never burn your bridges. One nice thing about academia is that people tend to stick around at one place for many years and thus take a long-range view.

Good luck!

Should I follow-up?

Postby Bill L. » Mon Dec 13, 2004 4:38 pm

Hi Rohini,

I agree with the posters who said that you should follow up with both the admin. person and the professor. The admin. person just to ask them "where they are in the hiring process" and the professor to thank them once again for thinking of you. This will give them a chance to tell you anything they feel comfortable in telling you about where your candidacy is.

Al is right - if they are going through their first round of interviewing others, you probably aren't at the top of the list. It's a bit of a blow, but things could turn out a number of ways until the final candidate is chosen, so certainly maintain contact to share your continued interest in the specific position and the institution in general.

Be well,

Bill L. & Naledi S.
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Should I follow-up?

Postby Andrew » Tue Dec 14, 2004 8:44 am

If they are already interviewing in December and you haven't heard anything, you probably didn't make the short list. You could call, but they're not likely to tell you anything as they don't want to burn any bridges until they make an offer. You said you applied to "several"? That doesn't sound like too many. I can recall applying to about 50 one year, which resulted in 4 interviews.
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Should I follow-up?

Postby James Premdoss Clement » Fri Dec 17, 2004 6:20 am

I have written to one of the Professors regarding Ph.D. position in his lab. He replied to me saying that he is interested in taking me as his student and he has also written to my current boss. My boss has written to him. But the professor to whom I applied has not written to me yet.

What should I do? Shall I follow-up?
James Premdoss Clement

Should I follow-up?

Postby Val » Fri Dec 17, 2004 6:44 am

James Premdoss Clement wrote:

> the professor to whom I applied has not written to me yet. Shall I follow-up?

Do not worry, mate ! In more cases than not, PhD students are nothing more than a cheap qualified labour, slaves... oops, I meant to say worker bees. So, it would be a tremendous loss to your would-be PhD supervisor if he did not get you... just wait, he might be busy with administrative trivia or other things. He should give you reply in a week or so... if not, prod him.

On a different topic. It is nice to have so many contributors from Europe. I think they introduce a look from slightly different angle and liven up the discussion at this US-based forum. Maybe Dave Jensen should advertise this forum even more in Europe ? ...

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Should I follow-up?

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Dec 17, 2004 10:42 am


I agree. Wonderful sense of community developing here -- and a great part of that is the international flavor which was missing from a forum that I ran for about ten years on another site. I like it, but I hope that people will always make it clear where they are posting from so that advice can be tailored where needed,

A personal note to Val . . . Thanks for all your hard work here. Sometimes your messages give me heart palpitations, but they are well-read and quite useful.

“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”- Alain de Botton
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