I applied to two postdoc positions to two different groups at the same institution.

I've got to the interview stage for the first position. After the interview, they want my opinion, if I still want the job. I am aware that the topic is interesting and important but I am not so excited about the topic (and I do not need the job immediately).

How should I respond to them when I don't know the fate of the second application? I would prefer the seconds position, because it is more exciting for me. And I do not want to cause any offence to the first group. It is a research institute and I am sure these group talk to each other regularly.

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    Am I understanding the title correctly that both postdoc positions are at the same institution. If yes, please edit your question to clarify and also please specify about what size of institution we are talking (university, department, institute)?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 9:43
  • Do you know how quickly there will be a decision about the more interesting position?
    – skymningen
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 9:47
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    As both are in same institution, generally, they often meet each other in various occasions. It will be an awkward situation in future if you don’t make the current stage very clear to both research groups. Don’t make any bad excuses for the denial. If you don’t like the first job, say it clearly. When you have the interview with next research team, there might be someone from the first research group. If you make any wrong decision now, you may lose both opportunities.
    – Mithun
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 10:28
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    If you don't get the second position, will you then want the first one? If that is the case you should not decline at all. If you don't want the first position independently of what happens to other position then the other position has no bearings on this and you should just decline like you decline any other post: briefly, politely, and without going into details.
    – xLeitix
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 10:44
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    So far you have received two answers, but no way to accept either one. People, remember to write your answers in the correct place: The box marked with "Your Answer". If you don't feel that an answer is good enough, you don't have to write it.
    – pipe
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 12:09

1 Answer 1


You should be honest, or at least mostly honest, with them.

Let them know you are also waiting to hear back on your application to another position at the same institution. It's up to you whether or not you say you would favor that position, but I think that is not necessary (hence the "mostly honest") - you can simply approach it as wanting to know all the options available to you before making a decision. This type of request is quite reasonable.

However, there may also be time limits: the group currently offering you a position may want to offer it to another candidate, or at least continue with more interviews. In stating that you would like to delay making a decision, you should also ask about any time limits on acceptance. If they give you some limit, you will then have to decide whether to take the job once that time is expired.

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    Excellent answer (+1). Just to add to it, if there is a delay in hearing back about the other position, I would recommend also contacting that group, letting them know you already have an offer from that institution, telling them you would prefer their position, and asking if they are able to give you an answer (offer or declination) within the time limit required by the first group.
    – Ben
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 1:10

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