I applied for a tenure-track faculty position at a particular institution in the U.S. I was selected for a skype interview, but was not invited for an on-campus visit. I snooped around on the department seminar web page, but did not find any evidence that this particular department actually ever invited anybody for an on-campus interview.

Today, I received an email from the department stating:

Thank you for your interest in the faculty position within the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of [redacted]. Our search to fill this position produced many impressive applicants. However, for a number of reasons beyond the department’s control, the position was not filled.

I can think of a couple of reasons that a department may not fill a vacancy, such as:

  • the finalists all ended up taking a job somewhere else
  • none of the finalists could agree to the terms offered by the department

So, besides those possibilities listed above, what are the other possible causes of a faculty position going unfilled?

  • 19
    Possible reasons: they no longer have the funding; none of the applicants matched their criteria.
    – Cape Code
    Jul 30, 2014 at 18:48
  • 10
    Most common reason: Everyone offered the position said no.
    – JeffE
    Jul 30, 2014 at 22:13
  • 2
    @JeffE it doesn't sound like OP said no.
    – Cape Code
    Jul 30, 2014 at 23:27
  • 4
    At a university here I know a spot once was not filled for gender-equality reasons! The university said they have to hire a woman, but there was just no competent women that applied for that position!
    – Josef
    Jul 31, 2014 at 9:27
  • 3
    @Jigg: OP wasn't offered the position.
    – JeffE
    Jul 31, 2014 at 12:58

2 Answers 2


You will probably never know the full reason, because departments are not quick to air their internal issues with job candidates. But here are a few possible reasons:

  • The search was halted by higher administration. One possible reason to do this so late in the process is because of funding changes (e.g. the funding for the position disappeared or was reallocated elsewhere).

  • The search was halted by the HR department due to some violation of hiring practices.

  • The search committee was unable to come to an agreement about who to bring to campus for an interview, or the dean rejected all the candidates before they were interviewed.

  • Although this is less likely, someone who had planned to retire might have decided not to retire, or someone from another department may have been moved into the department (e.g. for legal reasons to settle a complaint).

  • 14
    One more reason (perhaps related to #1 on your list): A totally unrelated search in another department brought in a senior candidate with a trailing spouse. The hiring of that spouse meant that a slot was lost in the grand shuffle.
    – RoboKaren
    Jul 30, 2014 at 19:54
  • 1
    There were lots of instances of #1 in the 2008-2009 hiring season. When the financial crisis started getting dire in fall 2008, endowments and state budgets dropped, and many schools instituted hiring freezes and canceled searches. Nov 26, 2014 at 2:35

There may have been a change of administration in the middle of a search, and the new administrator didn't like the position description posted.

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