Tomorrow, I have an interview at one of the top UK universities where I really want to end up. However, I already have a few offers from other places. So, I am wondering, if they ask me whether I have other offers, what should I say?

Maybe it sounds weird, but I was thinking: if I say "yes, I do have other offers", they might think that since I already have a few offers, they can give the position to someone else. If I say "no, I don't have any offers", it might be a red flag that it is mid-April and I don't have any offers yet.

What would be the best way to respond to such a question?

  • 7
    Why is this weird or non-standard? Have you searched this site for other people with the same sort of question? It seems like quite a standard and typical one. academia.stackexchange.com/search?q=other+offers gives 5,271 results - I'm sure not all of these apply, but sifting through the first couple dozen it seems like most of them do to some extent.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Apr 9 at 15:18
  • 3
    It sounds like your brain is trying to trick you into believing that no matter what you do, they will try to find fault with it. Don't fall for it. Of course it would make no sense for someone to ask you a binary yes/no question and then interpret both possible answers to your disadvantage. Commented Apr 9 at 16:50

5 Answers 5


For what it's worth, I'm in a very similar position to you and I've simply been honest when the issue came up. They know that competitive candidates will be applying to multiple institutions. So far, it only came up when I was discussing timelines - I asked for slightly extended decision time on an offer - and the prospective PI's reaction was rather neutral.


I suggest honesty.

Not only does that let your conscience alone, but,also, you never know. University people may well talk to each other.

Also, I don't think that "he has offers, so we'll offer it to someone else" is a likely reaction. Each university is trying to get the best set of students they can, just as each student is trying to go to the best program they can. This results in a lot of chaos around the time that everyone has to decide.

I once worked with a guy who made these decisions, not for a university but for a quite prestigious internship. He had lists, the students had lists, there were lots of shuffling.


Everybody wants the best students. Saying that you have other offers will only make you look better in the eyes of admissions committees. The only possible exception would be a low-ranked school that is limited in the number of offers it can make because of some bureaucratic policy. They might not make you an offer based on the premise that you will probably not accept it, so might as well make that spot available to someone else. But every other school will offer you the spot, then put the 99th candidate on a waiting list.


Both of your worries do not really capture how hiring committees (or individual PIs, since you are apparently applying for a postdoc) think.

Since I already have a few offers, they can give the position to someone else

Their goal is not to maximise how many people overall get a position. Or, to turn this around, not once have I heard somebody say "we should make an offer to this person, because it's unlikely that they will get a job otherwise".

Frankly, they do not care what exactly your plan B is if they do not select you.

If I say "no, I don't have any offers", it might be a red flag

This one is slightly more plausible, but also not really how people think. They don't know where you have applied, and what has happened in these application processes. Also, the fact that they are interviewing in April indicates that they don't think all the good candidates will already have offers at this point.

There is one real issue when considering whether to tell another university about your offers - if they get the feeling that you are unlikely to say yes, for example because you already have offers that you would prefer over the place you are interviewing, they might indeed decide that it's in their best interest not to rank you (and lose time in a negotiation that will not end in their favour).

Consequently, there is usually nothing from saying that you have other offers, but make it clear that they are still very much in the running (i.e., they can definitely make you an offer that would make you pick them over your existing offers).


it might be a red flag that it is mid-April and I don't have any offers yet

This thinking implies that the comitee is relying on other universities comitees to judge you. This is wrong on many many levels, especially from a "top" university (whatever that means): if they are a top university, they are good enough at judging candidates on their own without the needs of some "confirmation" from their peers.

There are thousands of practical reasons why one has no offer in mid-April, and additionally mid-April is an absolutely arbitrary time in most of the university system.

So, in short, they do not care about you not having other offers, but they may care if you have other offers purely for organizative reasons and it may give you leverage in asking for an expedite feedback after the interview.

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