I just got an informal offer (a suggestion to apply through the university portal) from lab A, which I'm very happy about. On the same day, lab B emailed me, asking me for a prior interview by Zoom. I am interested in lab B, but as this is a prior interview, the interview to decision process might take more than 2 to 3 weeks.

Is it okay to postpone a decision on the informal offer from lab A? Is there a way to postpone the decision in a polite manner?

  • 2
    what exactly do you mean by "informal offer"? Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 9:34
  • It seems like a suggestion to apply for through the university portal. Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 3:05
  • Sorry, I don’t get the conflict here. The way you put it, you don’t have an actual offer from A so you cannot make a decision on that, and thus not delay it even if you wanted. If you "apply through the university portal" that’s still just an application and you are free to apply to others as well. Commented Mar 24 at 7:25

1 Answer 1


Be open and honest with both lab A and B about your situation.

Is is absolutely okay and polite to ask lab A for more time until you make a decision. Be open and honest as to why you need more time, but be clear with the timeline ("2 to 3 weeks" is not very clear). Use this time to discuss with them the details of the job offer, research tasks, support in your professional development and so on, if you haven't done so yet. This will enable you to make an informed decision in case you have the luxury to choose between A and B. Of course, there are many valid reasons why lab A could force you a yes/no decision sooner. Depending on their reaction to your request, you might also find out a lot about the research culture in lab A.

You could also try to speed up the process on the side of lab B. It appears as if they haven't given you a precise timeline of the hiring process. Contact them, tell them about your other offer and request more details on when an interview would take place and how soon after a decision would be communicated to you.

  • 3
    This answer was written under the assumption that "informal offer" means that lab A has made the OP an offer but it hasn't been dealt with by the HR department yet, i.e. no formal offer letter has been sent out. I now realise that "informal offer" could mean a whole host of other things and asked the OP to clarify. Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 9:35
  • Thank you for your comments, it helped so much. By sharing current circumstance with lab A, it was able to obtain consent for having some time to perform interview with lab B! Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 3:09

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