I am applying for a PhD position in computer science in Europe. They specify a start date but say that it can be negotiated. Due to other circumstances, it is not possible for me to start until a month and a half after their given start date.

I see two options on what to do now. Either I say so at the end of the motivation letter potentially putting myself at a disadvantage, or I start negotiating once (/if) I get an offer, risking that someone will be annoyed at me because "I was supposed to tell them earlier" (which would clearly not be a good way to start a PhD if that someone would be the supervisor).

Which option should I choose? Would it be advisable to wait until I have an offer?

1 Answer 1


(European professor with hiring experience here.)

A month and a half is not a significant delay, but a quite moderate one. If the professor wants to hire you, it's rather likely that they would be happy to have you already one and a half months after the planned start date! So I recommend to not address it before you have an offer or they ask.

More generally, it's understood that people take a few months to start a new position, even more so in academia, where people typically move between countries for a job. That applies even stronger in the times of a global pandemic, where visa issues alone can defer the start date by many months.

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