I had a postdoc (field is computer science) interview 2 weeks ago. The HR team told me that the panel is willing to offer me the position and want to discuss the details in a 30mins Zoom meeting. This is a first one for me, I really don't know what can I expect during this meeting and what can I bring into the discussion. I am also a coming from outside the UK (need a visa).

  • Salary negotiation
  • Benefits
  • other elements?

Since I need a visa sponsorship

  • Visa procedure
  • Will the university cover immigration fees?

Basically, what are the key elements that form the typical start-up package for a postdoc job offer?

PS: I am having the meeting with one HR member and not the PIs.

  • 1
    I would imagine the discussion will be about the visa process. Be aware that salaries in UK universities follow a set scale so you may not have much room to negotiate for more. Similarly, healthcare is free in the UK (apart from dentistry [though NHS dentists do exist and charge minimal fees] and opticians) and it is mandatory to offer 28 days paid leave. What other benefits would you be looking for? Apr 17, 2021 at 17:31
  • Thank you for your answer. Like I mentioned, it's a first one for me, so I don't know much. But as a researcher I can only think of - Moving expenses, -Conference and travel funds and -Teaching load (it's a research only position but they said I might teach as well)
    – U. User
    Apr 17, 2021 at 17:39
  • HR probably won't be able to tell you about teaching (that would be down to your immediate line manager/department). But I imagine all the financial questions that you mention would be appropriate. Apr 17, 2021 at 18:48

2 Answers 2

  1. Read the agreement between your university and the union (presumably UCU) if applicable. It's boring. This defines what you can request.
  2. Read benefits information on the HR website.
  3. Read visa rules on the government website.
  4. Figure out your preferred start date.
  5. Estimate your relocation costs.
  6. Find out what local taxes are.
  7. Find out local housing costs from a regional housing website. (In the UK they are often unreasonably high.)
  8. Make a list of questions to ask. Questions should demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in the position. They are not negotiation.
  9. Reread the job ad. Some places will try to offer you a job you didn't apply for.

For a postdoc, it is not called a startup package. If you ask for "startup", people will think you don't understand what a postdoc is.

Unless you are an experienced negotiator, do not try to negotiate during a meeting. Negotiate by email. Get everything in writing.


Congrats! On top of what you already mentioned, my list contained:

  • Is there an assistant who can help with settling down? Like, helping with housing, taxes, reading payslips. etc.
  • Healthcare. How does it work? When will be available? And everything related.
  • Are there any links to the international community of the university members?

Don't over plan, everything always can be handled at the place, the main focus is the research.

  • 2
    Employers have nothing to do with healthcare in the UK. The NHS is immediately available to anyone in the country, citizen/resident/employed or not. Apr 17, 2021 at 18:45

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