I have had multiple situations (ok, well only two) where after what I thought to be a positive Skype postdoc interview (in one case, two interviews), my follow-up questions/requests have been completely ignored. I've sent 2-3 follow-up emails spaced over weeks with nothing in reply. In one case it's been over a month. The weird thing is that the email exchanges prior to the interview(s) to set a date/time happened very quickly and were enthusiastic. I thought the interviews went well and they said certain phrases like "you seem to have very relevant skills and interests." I made sure to thank them in follow-up emails and I asked a few more logistical questions about their group that time did not permit in the interview. But nothing in reply.

Maybe they decided they didn't want to hire me. That's fine, I get it. But I'm very frustrated with this because its seems to be so unprofessional. If they don't want to hire me, why not give me the courtesy of saying no so that I can move on? The field is not that big, so it is very discouraging that I would now have two groups that I need to avoid.

My question is if this is typical for a group leader to just ignore emails like this if they don't intend on hiring an applicant? Or is it possible that they suddenly became very busy and aren't able to answer emails?

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    If they decide to hire someone else they'd rather not give you a definitive no in case things fall through. It is very normal to not actually ever get a strict no. Apr 2, 2018 at 12:58
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    It's unprofessional of you to send follow-up emails, unless you've got some valueable information to transmit. There's enough time to ask questions when they come back to you with a "yes we want to hire you".
    – Karl
    Apr 2, 2018 at 14:18
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    I’m not understanding how it is unprofessional of me. For postdoc positions, the interviews have to go both ways. I am asking valuable questions to them (I’m not just following up by asking them if they’ve made a decision) so that I can understand if I want to work with them as well while expressing interest. Besides, this would only be the first step in an interview process, so I need to know if they would like to proceed.
    – Voltaire
    Apr 2, 2018 at 15:39
  • @Voltaire what is subject? major? field?
    – SSimon
    Apr 2, 2018 at 16:08
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    Receiving several emails from an applicant asking for more information seems annoying for me. Why is so urgent for you to ask for more information since you even don't know if the position is yours? I agree with @Karl , you can ask the questions you need after a positive result.
    – The Doctor
    Apr 2, 2018 at 18:33

1 Answer 1


Well, I had quite a few postdoc interviews and I can tell you that it is NORMAL for a PI not answer you back. Of course it is a shitty situation, even more when you thought the interview was good, but that's how life is when you are searching for postdoc positions. 1 email as a follow up or an update is ok. But don't insist on it. The truth is: you know as soon as you finish the interview if you would hire the applicant or not, so if you don't hear from them after a week consider it a no.

  • Fully agree, unless your number one candidate has multiple options. Then you want to be able to still hire your number two if number one takes the other job. Quite often the PI waiting for their preferred candidate to make up their mind is behind the radio silence.
    – Deipatrous
    Sep 4, 2023 at 14:16

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