I recently talked with a professor about his offer to me a postdoc position. Later on I was notified about an interview for a tenure-track faculty position. So, I am wondering, if I have accepted the Postdoc offers, can I still proceed with the faculty position interview? I don't want to lose the postdoc offer, and also the opportunity of the faculty position. How should I deal with the situation without causing any ethic issues?

  • Are you saying you accepted the post doc offer, or just talked about it?
    – Buffy
    Sep 10, 2019 at 22:39
  • Officially I haven't got the offer because the professor is also concerned if I can stay with him for a long time of period. If I accept the offer, does that mean I have to quit my job searching?
    – user105065
    Sep 11, 2019 at 0:12
  • How long is the post doc position for? When would the faculty position start? Sometimes the academic hiring process is slow and one would expect to be applying for jobs around the time you start another one (during the post doc years).
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 11, 2019 at 0:30

4 Answers 4


If you haven't yet accepted an offer you can search and evaluate other offers freely. If you get an offer but haven't accepted it, that doesn't change. But ethically you should cease efforts after you accept an offer unless you also ask the PI to let you explore something that might be better. That puts you at risk of having the offer withdrawn, of course and bad feelings all around. And accepting an offer may be legally binding in some cases, depending on various things.

But until you accept an offer, even if it is offered, you are still free to explore all options. It is actually wise to do so.

In the current situation, if I understand it correctly, the professor may not be able to make you an offer adequate to your needs. In such a case it is more important that you keep your options open.

  • 7
    "ethically you should cease efforts after you accept an offer.." -- usually yes, but a postdoc is always looking for the next job, because the current one is temporary. Sep 12, 2019 at 6:45

My understanding of the norms in academia is that tenure-track and tenured positions are generally accepted to be rare opportunities, and that taking those if offered is the right thing to do. As such, it is perfectly acceptable to attend an interview for a tenure-track position, and to accept it if offered, even if one has already accepted a conflicting postdoc. In such case one should, however, be apologetic to the snubbed postdoc mentor, and do ones best to minimize the inconvenience to them.

  • 2
    +1, and I'd add to this: once a tenure-track offer is in hand, it can sometimes be deferred for a year or more, if the candidate wants to take up a good postdoctoral opportunity first.
    – academic
    Sep 13, 2019 at 16:03

I have a suggestion that might win you the best of both worlds. Why not accept the postdoc position for a fixed term, say for 6 months or 1 year as convenient to all parties. Then, in case the tenure track position works out, you can always give (or negotiate) a join date for right after you finish your postdoc position. The additional experience of a postdoc just before you start a faculty position can be invaluable for getting a smoother transition from being a graduate student to being a professor.

  • This might not work for teaching-oriented institutions. They are hiring because they need somebody to teach. Sep 12, 2019 at 11:53
  • Sure. Even so, might not hurt asking about what kind of buffer is available before joining.
    – xadu
    Sep 14, 2019 at 5:42

My 2 cents (alas no guarantee for success because it depends on the externals as well).

It depends a bit on the professor, but they are academics and they know the game. I would be frank and open to them. Everybody knows a ternure-track is a superb opportunity for someone at postdoctoral level.

I think the main thing here is to see what the time scales are (and I think it is ok to ask the other group what their expectations on the duration of the process are).

If it's short, you may arrange with the postdoc-prof that you take some time to think about the acceptance, or you could ask the other group to delay the hiring a bit. It's a long-term position anyway so funding running out is probably not an issue. Also, they probably have to take into account that people move in from far away, needing them to organise stuff which takes time. This meanse there could be some time in their process that you could use to get a decent postdoc job done.

If it's going to take half a year to a year, you can just start the postdoc and happily continue the application process.

Yes, this could get the offer withdrawn but starting a search is quite some work as well so if you and the professor have a cooperative attitude finding a solutions should be doable.

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