I've got 2 interview offers for a PhD application from 2 different professors (say A and B). Prof.A contacted me regarding the application in mid Sept. and informed me that he'd conduct an interview in mid. Oct while Prof. B contacted me a few days ago and informed that he'd conduct an interview next week.

While talking with Prof. B (via Email) today, I somehow happened to mention about Prof. A and an interview offer from him. So, Prof. B stated that he'd not be able to conduct an interview with me and informed me that I would have to go with either of the professors for an interview.

I don't want to blow my chance for an interview with Prof. B since it'd be extremely risky to just wait for an interview with Prof. A, as the result of an interview with Prof. A is not assured.

I may be chasing two hares at a time here, but I don't want to take any risks here unless they are unavoidable. So, what am I to do now?

P.S.: I've not yet contacted Prof. A regarding my situation yet.

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    Can you maybe provide some cultural context here? Country and field? In my country and in my field, if a professor refused to interview you because you were interviewing with another professor I would say run don't walk away from that person, but it's possible there are some cultural differences or political issues underlying this. – Bryan Krause Oct 3 '18 at 16:29
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    Are A and B in the same school? – Dawn Oct 3 '18 at 16:33
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    Also, did you state (in your email to professor B) that you had an interview with professor A or an offer from professor A? The word offer often implies a job offer, not an interview offer, and professor B may be confused. – Dawn Oct 3 '18 at 17:11
  • @BryanKrause It's the east. Singapore to be specific. – user98798 Oct 3 '18 at 17:29
  • @Dawn Yes..And also in the same dept. – user98798 Oct 3 '18 at 17:30

Unless Prof B has made you a firm offer in writing, for a PhD, then he is being unreasonable. This is a terrible situation to put you in: he wants you to commit to him, withdraw all your other applications, whereas he has obviously not decided yet that he is going to take you as a student. If he takes you, then no harm done; but if he takes someone else, you're screwed. Nobody should apply to just one job... or even just two! The risk is too great. Everybody should understand this, and someone who doesn't understand isn't somebody you want to work with.

However as Dawn says in the comments, you should try to clarify the situation. Explain to Prof B that the interview with Prof A is just an interview, not a firm offer; exactly like the one with him. If he still insists that you only go to one interview... I would think very hard about continuing with him.

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  • It is also possible, although not likely, that the department has some rule against students interviewing with multiple faculty. There may be a history of faculty "fighting" over students that they are trying to avoid. It could also be that there is some internal politics that you are unaware of, so the demand has more to do with internal power dynamics than personality (and this is also a red flag). – Dawn Oct 3 '18 at 18:04
  • I don't think Prof. B misunderstood that offer from A is only for an interview and not a firm offer. To quote Prof. B, " I would suggest you to first explicitly follow up with him whether he is still considering you as a candidate. If so, I'll not proceed. If not, I can proceed (but I need a confirmation first that he is not considering you any more)." And "considering you as a candidate" here means a candidate for the interview, not a confirmed offer. This will be obvious from his previous mail. – user98798 Oct 3 '18 at 18:07
  • I first thought of explaining my situation to Prof. A, but am worried that he may bind me with the same clause. And if I tried to postpone the interview with B, then he'll assume that I've chosen him and since they're in the same dept. , there may be internal talks between A and B, and Prof. A may drop me from potential candidates list for an interview. – user98798 Oct 3 '18 at 18:12
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    @user98798 Is there a disparity in seniority between Prof A and B? It sounds like maybe Prof B is worried about stepping on the toes of Prof A. – Bryan Krause Oct 3 '18 at 18:46
  • @BryanKrause There supposedly is. A is an associate professor while B is an assistant professor. Also, after looking through their home pages, oldest paper Prof. B has published is in 2008, while A's dates back to 1996. But B has a postdoc while A only has a PhD. – user98798 Oct 3 '18 at 19:16

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