I am a recent PhD in the US and applied for a part-time (65%), fixed-term (2 years) postdoc (official title: "Scientific Assistant") in Germany. They are willing to fly me out for a job talk and interview, paying for two nights lodging, and all transportation expenses.

This struck me as a lot of effort and expense on the part of the hiring institution for such a short-term, part-time position. I expected maybe a Skype interview and requests for reference letters. Is it typical for research institutions to do this for postdoctoral positions in general? Is there something about the nature of this position I'm missing?

  • 1
    Will this be the first interview?
    – paparazzo
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 17:43
  • 1
    It is my first interview with them (and incidentally my first post-PhD interview, period); not sure whether it's the first one they'll be conducting.
    – Cool Vowel
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 17:44
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    Then that is odd. They must really want you based on your resume.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 17:45
  • Follow-up: I didn't get the job. :\ It was just what I expected---a bit involved for an overseas candidate, but nothing excessive given the circumstances & the fact that they will be putting however-much-money into this position over the two (& possibly three; there's the 'possibility of renewal', as ever) years. They said they always offer to fly everyone they're considering in, for equity, & did a few administrative tricks to get the funds to cover it. Overall it was a good experience, but I'm relieved to find other interviewers only requesting Skype meetings (as much as I love travel!).
    – Cool Vowel
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 20:44

1 Answer 1


I write this answer from a US perspective in biomedical sciences and don't have any specific experience with academia in Germany besides friends who are there.

I would say this is not that unusual for a field with good funding resources and a position for which candidates are in high-demand (especially quantitative fields).

Even for prospective graduate students in the US in my field, it is typical for hosting programs to fly in prospective students and cover their costs during an interview.

What is a bit unusual is that (based on your comment) this is your first level of interview, as it would be more typical to start with a more informal interview over the phone, Skype, etc for a position like this. You would expect that these expenses would only be used for the top 1-2 candidates for a position. However, if the number of applicants is sufficiently low, they might feel like it is necessary to invite anyone that meets their other qualifications based on an application.

However, like hiring in industry, consider that the transportation costs involved are still only a fraction of what it costs to pay an individual to work for two years. Based on other Q&A here at Academia.SE, in-person interviews seem a lot less common in Asia, and maybe more generally in places where the ratio between salary and travel expenses is smaller.

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