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Due to the circumstances surrounding my graduation and other factors, I didn't apply in the Fall of 2013 for any jobs. I did happen to see an opening that was still posted in February and applied on a whim. In a short period of time I was asked to do a phone interview followed by campus interview followed by request for more info from my references. At this point it was summer and quite a bit of time went by before I was asked for some start up costs (nothing substantial for my field) at which point the dean said it shouldn't be a problem.

Fast forward 2 months and all I've heard is "you'll hear from us soon" and that the process is moving slowly. Every time I think they must have filled the position they tell me just enough to make me think I am still in the running. At this point we are way off of the normal hiring schedule so I do not know what to think.

Does anyone have any thoughts--is it likely that they have offered the position to someone else and are in negotiations? Why bother getting all of my startup details? Has anyone else had any experiences with a super long, off-schedule hiring timetable?

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    Which country? What kind of position? – Jukka Suomela Sep 30 '14 at 18:00
  • What do you mean that you were "asked for some start up costs"? Do you mean that you applied for a job with them, and they've asked for some money from you? – EnergyNumbers Sep 30 '14 at 18:01
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    @EnergyNumbers: I believe that they mean how much money the candidate would need to start up the research group. ("Startup funds" might have been a more accurate term.) – aeismail Sep 30 '14 at 18:15
  • No, he means that they asked how big his startup package should be (seed money for summer salary, students, and equipment). – Bill Barth Sep 30 '14 at 18:15
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    If you are unsure as to the current status of the job, it is always fine to contact the search committee chair and ask. – Nate Eldredge Sep 30 '14 at 18:38
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All I can say is that different universities can take different amounts of time to process things. The process can take even longer when the process drags out over the summer, as many of the key people who need to approve such a hire (and usually there are several) are often out on vacation, which can drag the process out even further.

I know, for instance, that there was nearly a five-month gap between the time I had my interview and was told I'd be getting an offer and actually receiving it. So delays are possible.

However, it may also be possible that you were not the top-ranked candidate after the search, and they are currently waiting to hear back from that candidate before deciding whether or not to make you an offer.

  • Also possible they're holding out to see if they can find someone better (perhaps waiting for the normal hiring cycle for next year, though that would be extreme). – Joe Oct 30 '14 at 19:16
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This is definitely an unusual schedule and I'm not entirely sure what to think.

My first advice is that if you haven't heard "yes" or "no," then they haven't closed the search. You may be right that they made an offer to someone else, but once an offer is accepted, everyone else is notified "no."

My best guess is that there may be other factors at work in the university. For example, sometimes our Dean will tell us that we can have a search, but he would prefer if the hire arrived a year later. In my department (chemistry), we typically have early searches, but with the University's financial year beginning in July, the Dean will let us post advertisements before there's official approval from the Provost's office. So we include language about the opening "pending budgetary approval."

We have been caught sometimes where the Dean approves, but the Provost wants to postpone for financial reasons. (I don't envy having to balance multi-million budgets.)

As another example, sometimes searches may span more than one year (e.g., an open-rank search for both junior and senior faculty). It may take that long to negotiate with a senior hire. Since the posting was in February, that might be the case here.. the department wants to make a senior hire, needs to post (and interview) publicly, but is stuck negotiating.

I agree with the comment above that it's always fine to contact the chair of the search committee and ask for an update. Particularly with the long delay, this is a good idea.

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