I had a PhD interview (Computer Science) 3 weeks ago with a German institute. The interview went well and they said they will make their final decision in a week (the latest) and let the candidates know. However, it's been 3 weeks and no response. I emailed them a week ago asking if they have decided yet. Still no response. Before the interview, they were extremely responsive. E.g. I emailed and asked many questions about how I should prepare for the presentation etc. They would typically respond in like 5 mins. But after the interview, they seem to be ghosting me. Does this mean I should forget about this position?

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    Regardless of the outcome, I would view it as rather unfavorably that they don't respond to your messages--if they are already communicating so poorly with you now, what would it be like to do your PhD in this group? Proceed with caution. May 7, 2021 at 10:36
  • @lighthousekeeper that is an interesting point! However, I really like the project and what they are doing. It is a little sad that they are ghosting me like this. But they were quite the opposite before the interview which confuses me a little.
    – bird
    May 7, 2021 at 10:42
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    No one knows for sure. But I'd guess that something unforeseen happened to their selection process. They had a plan, now it's broken, and as a result they don't know what to do which is why they are not replying. Sometimes that happens in Germany...! I'd just wait and see. They'll probably get back to you. Unless you have an urgent timeline I wouldn't email them again at this point. May 7, 2021 at 16:03
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    Not exactly the same thing, but very highly related: How do I properly follow-up with a hiring manager, to check on the status of a position?
    – NotThatGuy
    May 7, 2021 at 23:38

2 Answers 2


It could be that unforeseen circumstances have prevented a timely decision. However, most likely you are not their first choice but they don't send out rejections before their first choice has signed the contract. That's pretty standard.

Something similar happened to me in the past. Three months later they called me and asked if I would still be interested. Their first choice had decided against the position. If they had send out rejection letters they would have had to restart the whole process again (with a new job posting).

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    "before their first choice has signed the contract" is pretty standard - Really? The standard I know is that contracts are signed on the first working day. I'd say they wait until the first choice has accepted the offer.
    – user151413
    Jun 4, 2021 at 19:11

You can't actually conclude anything. There might be many reasons for a delay and a lack of communication. One reason might be a time of negotiation with another candidate and holding on to the others in case they can't come to agreement.

If you were the first choice then chances are you would have heard by now, but the delays might be just administrative and seeking internal agreement.

What you can do, however, is keep any other options you have active and open.

  • @Bluffy I also thought about negotiation thing. However, this position has a fixed payment of 75% (very typical thing in Germany) and also a fixed topic etc. This means that the chosen candidate cannot negotiate salary, topic, supervisor etc. Other than these things, what would they be negotiating in 3 weeks? :)
    – bird
    May 7, 2021 at 10:35
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    @bird first choice candidate could be negotiating about some other position or positions, for example, which would delay everybody
    – eis
    May 7, 2021 at 22:41
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    @bird I think "negotiating" is the wrong word. But usually you would give the first candidate some time to accept/decline, and they might be waiting for responses from other places as well.
    – user151413
    Jun 4, 2021 at 19:13

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