I applied for a post doc position in the USA. My interview was done with the PI and I had one-on-one interactions with all the lab members ten days ago. He then unofficially offered me the position and discussed the salary.

I sent him a thanks reply the next day, but I got no reply from him. Later I asked him for a meeting because he wanted to interact one more time, but he said “Everything is in the hand of HR, and I have no additional information. If you want to ask questions about our group or work we can certainly arrange a meeting”.

I want to know: how much time does HR take usually? He had said (before my interview) that he was taking interviews of other candidates too. Do PIs usually submit a list of multiple candidates to HR? Does priority based selection occur in these cases?

Please enlighten me.

  • At what point did he say that he is having other interviews? Before or after he offered you the job? Sep 11, 2021 at 12:06
  • Before my interview….
    – souga
    Sep 11, 2021 at 12:42
  • 2
    Ok, that's the normal process then: several candidates are invited to interview, and one of them is offered the job. I see no reason to worry. Unfortunately, it's hard to say how long it will take HR to make the official arrangements, since there's large variability in these processes. But it's indeed just a formality at this point. Sep 11, 2021 at 12:50
  • But because verbally he offer me the position,Do they follow same scenario with other candidates??
    – souga
    Sep 11, 2021 at 13:43
  • 3
    No, that would be a gross violation of professional standards. I'm not aware of a single case where a position was offered informally and accepted, but in the end some other candidate got the job. Sep 11, 2021 at 14:37

3 Answers 3


HR isn't involved in choosing between candidates. That decision is made mainly by the PI, though it may also need the agreement of some other official such as a department chair, dean, etc. But once the academic personnel have made their decision, HR is only responsible for the bureaucratic process of hiring the selected candidate. So if your name has gone to HR, it means they want you and nobody else.

HR can in principle veto a candidate if they find some reason why they should not be hired at all (ineligible for work visa, criminal record, lied on CV, etc) but they have nothing to do with evaluating academic or technical qualifications.

The time needed for this process may vary depending on the university's internal processes, HR workload and staffing levels, general bureaucratic efficiency, etc. I would say that if you haven't received an offer letter within 2-3 weeks of when they said your file was with HR, then ask for an update. In some cases this letter might be sent by postal mail, so make sure that mail sent to the address on your application will reach you (or give the university an updated address if needed).

  • It would be very dishonest for a PI to tell a candidate that they have the job while actually offering the job to somebody else. There's no reason to assume that the PI is dishonest, so you can assume that you have a job.
  • In my experience it's quite common for the administrative process to take a few weeks (even more), I wouldn't worry too much about it.

Congrats :)

  • 3
    Dishonest certainly, if the PI knows what they are doing. Alternatively, they may go to HR and say "I want to hire this person" and HR says "Um, you do know you need to follow policies XYZ before doing that, right?" Those policies could include properly posting the position and could easily delay or contradict any informal offer.
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 11, 2021 at 21:03

PIs decide what candidate to hire and will tell HR to continue the process with only one candidate.

It's up to the PI to decide, not to HR

Good luck

  • 1
    Thank you. That is a relief.Although can you please elaborate the answer sir?
    – souga
    Sep 11, 2021 at 9:27

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