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I have a case where I applied for a tenure-track position in a R1 research institution. A month after the application, all my references were contacted and were asked for a telephone interview, which I got to know from all my references. This was a good sign and I expected the committee to contact me soon (in about a month after the interviews). Now it's been two and a half months since they interviewed my references but no contact yet. I am not sure what is going on and how should I deal with this. Should I email them asking about the status of the application?

Update

It's more than 8 months after my first application for this position. Significant changes happened to my CV to bolster my application. I had no hopes, but I dropped an email saying that this is my updated CV, please update in your records in case they are still reviewing.

The programme manager updated my CV in the application replied that the review is still undergoing and they have yet to finalize applicants.

Any idea what might be going on?

  • This might be nothing more than end of year business, and people going off, making it hard to get a committee together. It could also be that the committee is deadlocked. I doubt that it would harm you to ask, but it might be better if your advisor did so. – Buffy Jun 29 '18 at 20:38
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    It could also be that you're out of the running and that other candidates are being considered or that funding for the position has been canceled and the position won't be filled. However, it can't ask to send a polite email to the search committee chair asking about the status of the search. – Brian Borchers Jun 29 '18 at 21:08
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    @Buffy: I don't think it is appropriate to get the advisor involved here. The candidate should communicate with the search committee directly. It would probably be against the rules for the committee to share anything about someone's candidacy with anybody but the candidate themselves. – Nate Eldredge Jun 29 '18 at 22:06
  • @NateEldredge, no argument. I was thinking that they might be able to say something about the state of the search, not the candidate. But your answer is likely the correct one. – Buffy Jun 29 '18 at 22:10
  • Any idea what might be going on? — I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that their review is still ongoing and they have yet to finalize applicants, just like the program manager said. The good news is that they haven't decided not to interview you. – JeffE Jan 11 '19 at 19:47
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Yes, it's certainly fine to email them and ask.

However, I'm afraid you probably won't get good news. A common workflow for tenure-track searches is that after one round of review, they only contact the candidates who were selected to move on to the next round. It's likely that this has happened by now, so if you haven't heard from them, it probably means you're not one of the candidates they're actively considering.

You technically haven't been rejected yet, because in principle, if the selected candidates don't work out, they could go back and reconsider the rest. Indeed, official rejection letters often are not sent until after the search is complete and someone has been hired (or they've given up). But this isn't a good sign.

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  • Thanks for all your comments. I think my dilemma lies in the fact that the committee has taken efforts to contact all my references and do an interview with them meaning probably I made the first round. So, I am still not sure if its just delayed slow process or I am out of running. If I am not out of running, I would not want to look desperate by asking the status, but if I am out of running then its better to know right away. – Pranav Pandit Jul 5 '18 at 17:47
  • @PranavPandit: My personal guess is that you're out of the running, but there's no way to know for sure except by asking. I wouldn't worry about "looking desperate"; that's unlikely to have any effect on your chances. If anything it may be helpful to let them know you are still on the market. – Nate Eldredge Jul 5 '18 at 17:51
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Unfortunately, after 8 months with no interview or any further news, I would assume your application has been unsuccessful.

Hiring practices differ between fields and countries, so you should ask someone (e.g., your advisor) who is familiar with these practices to confirm what is the usual time.

Unfortunately, it is not unusual to simply never hear back from a job application. I applied for tenure-track jobs in the US about a year ago. Some universities got back to me and arranged interviews (within 3 months of applying) and offered me a job (within 5 months of applying). Some sent me rejections (as late as 8 months after applying). But most simply never responded. Alas that's the way it is.

Did the position description you applied to specify a start date? If that start date has passed, I think it's safe to say the search is over.

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