I have recently applied to postdoctoral positions, the applications for which are still under review (or will start the review process soon, based on their deadlines). In the mean time, I have got calls from faculty members at a few institutions I've applied to, asking if I'd be interested in working with them.

For me, the answer is always "yes!" (that's why I applied to those places!). However, I do not wish to commit to them without first knowing the status of all my applications. On the other hand, the faculty members also aren't making official offers yet --- they verbally say they would love for me to join their groups as postdocs, etc. It's not clear to me if they are simultaneously scheduling such calls with multiple candidates.

What is the best way to express interest and enthusiasm without committing (or appearing to do so)? I fear that overcommitting and then switching to someone else would massively burn bridges (besides feeling really wrong to me); on the other hand, I fear that not appearing enthusiastic enough on such calls might make these faculty back out of making me an official offer.

3 Answers 3


Normally, one asks what the next steps are.

  • I am happy to hear that! Yes, of course I am interested! [maybe insert reason why you are interested here] What are the next steps, will there be an interview or something?

Asking for concrete steps conveys interest and at the same time gives you information about the stage and timeline of your application (i.e., by when you need to decide). Additionally, every hiring committee should understand that "I am interested" does not mean "I am going to sign whatever you send me, no questions asked".


I wouldn't call these "verbal offers". I would call these "preliminary interviews". Treat them the same way you would treat another interview for which you haven't gotten a formal offer yet. Yes, you applied, but until they haven't committed to you, you can't possibly be considered to have committed to them. Nobody reasonable will hold a grudge to you if you apply somewhere, but then decide on another job who gave you a formal offer.


In my field, there is a widely accepted agreement that institutions will not require people to accept their offers before a particular date (Feb 6 2023 for this round). The purpose of this is exactly to protect applicants from having to make choices before they have all information at their disposal.

So (a) see if your field has something like that, and (b) it's absolutely understandable if you tell prospective employers that you won't be able to make a final decision before (the date you decide on) because you are waiting for information from other potential employers. I would consider it unreasonable for any employer to find this objectionable.

(This advice is in addition to the good advice in the other answers that communication that isn't explicitly an offer shouldn't be treated as an offer.)

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