I am currently in the process of applying to postdocs. I'm wondering whether it would be beneficial to include language indicating a certain position is my top (or near top) choice and that I would almost certainly accept an offer.

On the one hand, I suppose this could demonstrate excitement about the program and help convey my likelihood of accepting an offer. On the other hand, it's not something which can be backed by any real evidence, so it might just add "fluff". I'm sure there are other considerations as well, so I'd be interested in hearing perspectives on this.

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    It's good to indicate interest, but this makes more difference for a tenure-track position than a postdoc. An exception might be if you seem out of their league. In any case, it would be better to indicate your interest by directly contacting a prospective facutly mentor--though I wouldn't directly say I'd be likely to accept, just am very interested because [academic reason + possibly non-academic reason].
    – Kimball
    Nov 7, 2021 at 13:29

1 Answer 1


I would advise against it. As you say, fluff. If you are applying at all, they realize you have interest. Focus on your fit for the position.

It would have no bearing on whether you are chosen. Save your words for things that do.

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    Indeed. For that matter, feeling a need to say such a thing could actually have a negative effect, as though you were privately not so interested, but wanted to keep that position as a back-up for failing to get better offers. That is, if your application is sincere, of_course you'd be happy to take the offer. Don't "protest too much", in the Shakespearean sense... Nov 6, 2021 at 21:34
  • I guess I was thinking less about being happy to take an offer vs. intending to take this offer over any other offers. Since many people apply to essentially any program they would take an offer from given no other offers, I imagine there is some game theory about whether someone would accept an offer given other offers. Nov 6, 2021 at 21:38
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    @overfullhbox, it's crazy: sometimes "we" prefer to make offers to people we know will accept, but/and other times there's a voting bloc that insists on making the worst-odds-possible offers, since... supposedly... those are the highest-prestige candidates. Something about not asking anyone to the prom who'd want to go with you... (in a U.S. idiom). Nov 6, 2021 at 21:50
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    If you are applying at all, they realize you have interest. - With the advent of mathjobs, it's not totally clear anymore---it certainly seems like some applicants just do "apply all". However, usually candidates that apply to our tenure-track positions, postdocs and our PhD positions can be immediately ruled out.
    – Kimball
    Nov 7, 2021 at 13:25

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