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I interviewed ~1 month ago for a PhD position at Institution A. The first email contacts went very well - really quick and nice replies from the PI. I had the interview which went well - as the PI told at the end of the interview and he gave me a comparison with other candidates he had already interviewed.

He told me to expect news from him at the end of the week but unfortunately, I did not get any. So I sent a follow-up email 1 week after the interview, with no reply (~3 weeks ago)

I received another offer from Institution B - a really good one but I still prefer the one at institution A. I need to give my decision ASAP (paperwork, relocation etc). So I sent another email to ask for any outcome to PI from insitution A and to tell that I have received an offer elsewhere.

It's been several days with no news again.

I am quite disappointed. It's okay if I am rejected but well, I think it is important to end things in a good way.

Anyone has an idea of what's happening ?

Thank you !

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    The answers are good, but I wanted to add an extra point: consider if you really want to work with a professor who is so unresponsive. – astronat Apr 19 at 7:57
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    You can totally send them an email with a deadline when you will accept the other offer. That could be perceived negatively, but chances are, it will either help you or you have been declined already anyways. – DonQuiKong Apr 19 at 12:10
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It's fairly common in academia that you don't hear back after an interview if they won't hire you, more so if the PI appears to be acting unprofessionally as a rule: they shouldn't compare you to your face to other candidates.

One could go over why that is so, but it's best to simply shrug and accept the offer that is definite.

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    It shouldn't be common, of course. – Buffy Apr 18 at 19:33
  • @Buffy: Oh, of course totally agree. In my experience though, it is unfortunately common. – gnometorule Apr 18 at 19:35
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    Oh, I did not realize that it was unprofessional to compare to other candidates during the interview. Really sad to hear it is quite common not to hear back ... I read on some thread the "it is not over until it is over" but now I am considering that a "no response" may be a "no". I can wait a few days then. Thanks ! – ruth8z9 Apr 18 at 20:55
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It is impossible to tell what is happening unless you get feedback or can read the mind of the professor. It could be anything (thinking of only one dimension, though there others) from "the professor is a jerk" to "they are fighting desperately to get you accepted but it hasn't happened.

You've told them that you have other offers, which is good. It would be better to tell them about your decision timelines if you have one. Perhaps you can still do that. If they are no longer considering you, then there is no downside to persistence as long as you remain polite.

If the decision point on the other offer isn't close, then you can afford to wait, otherwise choose the best offer you have at the moment a decision is necessary.


One thing that "might be happening" is just the scale. Perhaps there are a lot of candidates with a lot of competition. Good luck.

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  • Thanks. What do you mean by "to get you accepted" ? Are you talking about HR ? Actually I do not understand what are the steps backstage... May you help me ? After having read the Institution website, it does not really help ... – ruth8z9 Apr 18 at 20:51
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    Sometimes there will be negotiation between professors about who to accept if there isn't money enough for all desirable candidates. This will be invisible to the candidates. – Buffy Apr 18 at 21:31
  • It could also be that the professor is sick. Who knows. – Carsten S Apr 19 at 14:00
  • @CarstenS, yes, there are many dimensions. A crashed mail server... – Buffy Apr 19 at 14:08

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