I sent an email with my qualifications to a prospective PhD supervisor and he responded by asking for my availability for interview and the likely days of the week, this could hold. I responded that I am available for interview and also chose a day from the available days he gave.

He didn't reply to my email. I sent a reminder a day before the interview day asking for the link for the interview session and the time of the day when the interview will hold but there was also no response. Please, what could have happened?

3 Answers 3


It's time to move on.

There are many reasons why the prospective advisor might not be replying, and none of them are good for you.

It could be that they are too busy to reply, which shows you a person who is either not well organized or who lets work back up. An organized person would reply saying something like "I'm about to submit a grant proposal, I'll get back to you in a couple of weeks."

It could be a simple case of ghosting: they initially thought it would be a good idea to correspond with you, but since then a better candidate showed up, the funds dried up, or they didn't like the way you wrote your last email (too rude, too submissive, too needy, whatever). So they changed their mind but also don't want to spend 30m writing an explanation to a stranger.

  • Thank you for the reply. I just felt bad for the silence after receiving a confirmation for interview.
    – Jiboy
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 19:35
  • 1
    It's a two -way interview. They are interviewing you for a job, and you are interviewing them for advisor position. Agreeing to an interview and then ghosting you is rude and unprofessional. They failed your interview by default. You'll find a better advisor.
    – Cheery
    Commented Aug 18, 2023 at 9:30

First of all, academics, just like everyone else, have a life. Something personal may have happened, which made it impossible for them to attend the meeting and reply to you. They may be sick and bedridden.

There certainly is a culture in Academia of bringing work at home (or rather never really stopping), which can expands even when people are sick or have personal issues, but that's not something to ignore.

Alternatively, academics are also very busy. They receive a lot of emails, and yours may have been missed. Some people are not very good at organising their schedule, emails, ... and will make more mistakes of this type, but it can happen to everyone. While for you, that was the only event of the day/week, they may had 4 other meetings that day, and 3 other interviews during the week.

And plenty of other things could have happen. We can't say, and we can't properly answer your question, because only the PhD supervisor themselves can. They may send you an email in a few days apologising.

Now, about academia, as I said people receive a lot of emails, and you sadly would not be the first to stop receiving answer from prospective PhD supervisor or other academics. It happens all the time. Some academics will try to answer everyone, but some don't bother, and some may just apologise later.

I once received an answer to my prospective email to a supervisor 5 months later when they cleaned their mailbox. I'm aware you had contacts with them, but just as they may have a totally reasonable reason to not have been able to contact you such as being sick, they may have also decided to not continue and not answer to you.

  • Thank you for the reply. I just wished he could at least reply my emails
    – Jiboy
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 12:21
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    @Jiboy I understand how it feels. I went through the same trouble of not getting answer or getting ghosted. As Cheery said, you should move on. There is plenty of other PhD supervisor. Maybe this one wouldn't have been good for you. And if something happen and they answer very late, then you can get back to the interview and maybe work with them. But don't get stuck on one possibility
    – JackRed
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 15:22
  • Thanks. I appreciate your comment.
    – Jiboy
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 19:34

Don't think about why this guy might not have responded to the follow up. That won't do any good to you. Look out for another potential advisor. However, I understand this sort of outcome is NOT expected. You have the opportunity to learn from it, and ensure that --- when you become a full-fledged academician and get such correspondence from genuine person, especially the young students --- you don't end up putting this guy's shoes on.

  • Thanks for the comment
    – Jiboy
    Commented Aug 18, 2023 at 5:15

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