After been unsuccessful in my previous endeavour to secure a PhD position I wrote to another professor at a different institute in Germany. She wrote back to me after a couple of days saying she was on leave at that moment. She also wrote that she’d be hiring in a specific area of research and should I be interested in working in that area she would be happy to follow up with me once she’s back. I wrote back to her confirming my interest. But then got an auto reply that she’d be on leave till 28 Aug. Be as that may on 11 of Sept I wrote to her again reaffirming my interest and this time I got an auto reply again that she’d be on extended leave till 12th September.

I hoped that since I wrote on the 11th and she was coming back by 12th I might hear back from her in the following days. But till now it has been dead silence. Should I write to her again, although that may seem I am bothering her. Or is she no longer interested in following up anymore ? She had stated in her initial email that she wants to hire for this fall.

  • 1
    Imagine how many emails might have amassed after a 4 weeks or so period of absence. Answering them all takes time, and then there is also the new semester to prepare.
    – Sursula
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 5:26
  • academia.stackexchange.com/questions/200892/… Also this question is very similar to your previous one
    – Sursula
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 6:35

1 Answer 1


Academics receive a huge amount of emails (it can very well be more than 100 a day), and the more senior they are the more emails they receive.

If the professor has been on leave for several weeks, they have an incredible amount of work to catch on, including going through all the emails. For this reason, it is likely that it will take a while for them to respond, and it is also equally likely that your email gets lost in the pile of all emails.

Generally, I would suggest to wait for a while (around two weeks), and if you have not heard back by then reach out again (politely). The time period might change depending on the urgency of the email: if the professor mentioned that they wanted to start interviews in early October, I would follow up earlier than two weeks, whereas if this is for a PhD position starting in September '24, say, there is no harm in waiting a little bit longer.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .