I will soon be accepting an offered professorship at a university that is a little further away from where I live.

Now I have received the invitation to an audition (lecture + interview) for a professorship at the local university ("Probevorlesung" as it is called here in Germany). Actually, I don't really want that specific professorship at the local university, but I also don't want to mess with the local university because it is a potential employer for me. I would not rule out changing universities in a few years if the opportunity of a more suitable professorship at the local university arises.

Problem is: Rumors said that candidates who turn down invitations are never invited again.

Is there any way for me to appropriately decline the invitation without burning bridges?

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    I don't follow. Don't you intend to stay at your new position for a decent amount of time, possibly forever? Why is this a concern?
    – Roland
    Mar 19, 2021 at 11:59
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    It's unclear to me what "Audition lecture" means here. Are you talking about a job talk? Have you applied for a position at this university? This situation needs some more/better explanations. Even if this is culturally dependent on taking place in Germany your question should still describe the problem in a way that non-Germans can understand. Mar 19, 2021 at 20:55
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    @user2705196 Auditions for a professorship in Germany include giving a lecture with a topic set by the committee. The lecture is open attendance (i.e., faculty and students are allowed to attend).
    – Roland
    Mar 20, 2021 at 16:40
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    So the question refers to a Probeverlesung? de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Probevorlesung Mar 20, 2021 at 17:18
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    This question really needs more explanation. As it stands I'd guess the question boils down to "I am no longer interested in an academic position I applied for, how do I tell the search committee even though I already received an invitation for giving a job talk" which already has an answer here academia.stackexchange.com/questions/150236/… Mar 20, 2021 at 17:32

3 Answers 3


You should communicate clearly (and swiftly) that you are declining the invitation because you are accepting the offer of a professorship at another university. In fact you should not just 'decline the invitation', but completely withdraw your application to your hometown university.

I would not be worrying too much about burning bridges, most likely the view of the hiring committee at your hometown university will be more like 'Shoot! We have lost an excellent candidate to university X. We have to be more attractive/move more quickly/offer better working conditions next time'.

Finally, let me say that this seems like a true luxury problem! Being offered a professorship 'a little further from where you live' and being invited for a Probevorlesung at your hometown university is something that most aspiring researchers would only dream of.


My perspective is the US, not Germany, but here, at least, it should be completely acceptable to say that I was sorry that I couldn't accept the invitation since I have another position already and wouldn't want to waste the time of the inviting institution.

But you could add, supposing that you are willing, that you would be happy to give a lecture, though not as an audition for a position.

Among other things, this puts the onus on the university for making a too-late invitation.

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    @CaptainEmacs They are only interested in the lecture as part of the audition for tenure. To offer giving a lecture anyway would demonstrate an embarrassing lack of understanding of the system.
    – Roland
    Mar 19, 2021 at 12:38
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    Actually, you could add "at some future time" to the offer. It is, then, an offer from a colleague to give a lecture, and perhaps open collaboration options.
    – Buffy
    Mar 19, 2021 at 12:42
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    In the US, it is polite to offer and expected that the other person will never actually follow through ("Come by and visit when you are in town again!") In Germany, if you offer, people will actually take your words literally. In fact, the offer creates social pressure. Now, listening to audition lectures is an administrative burden for the person you would offer your free lecture. That person likely isn't that interested in the content of the lecture and now needs to find a way to reject this gracefully.
    – Roland
    Mar 19, 2021 at 17:35
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    @Roland, thanks. I was thinking more of a lecture to faculty and advanced students on some specialized topic, or even open to the public. A seminar type of thing.
    – Buffy
    Mar 19, 2021 at 18:54
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    In addition to what @Roland says, the Probevorlesung is a lecture (as in teaching undergrad students) on a topic that is specified by the commission, it is not a presentation on OP's research. Mar 22, 2021 at 16:55

The best thing you can do is to immediately turn down the invitation, and withdraw your application, especially if you are potentially interested to moving back to that university at a later time. It would be much worse to continue with the application process. Imagine you would end up receiving an offer, and then you would turn it down: If you decline the offer at that point, this would have cost everyone significantly more time and energy, it would have delayed the entire process, it would have taken someone else's spot on the shortlist (potentially risking to end up without a candidate accepting, also due to the delay), and it would probably not even help you to negotiate at your future university.

So unless you are 100% sure that you won't receive the offer, withdraw now, otherwise you risk to truly burn bridges. (And even if you are sure you won't get the offer, you should withdraw now - the university will learn that you had accepted an offer somewhere else (unless you manage to delay this until you are out) and people will get the impression you weren't taking the application seriously.)

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