I'm currently applying for lecturing jobs at a couple of universities (in the US), and one of these is a place that had accepted me in its Ph.D. program a few years back, an offer which I ended up turning down to go somewhere else (this was done in a very courteous way and I do not believe I left a bad impression).

  1. Do you think my history with the school could have an adverse effect on my current application?

  2. If not, is there any reason to mention somehow that I applied to their graduate program (I'm worried that if I avoid the "elephant in the room" they might become suspicious)?

  • Thanks everyone for your thoughtful answers! Reading them again I'm starting to wonder why I was even worried about this to begin with.I'm still very new to this community so I don't know if commenting on my own question is the best way to communicate with those who have given an answer.
    – Aldobrandi
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 15:00

4 Answers 4


There are many reasons why people choose to go to one program over the other. While there might be some thin-skinned people, I don't think that should lead you to rule out applying. Since applying to a job at a school is minimal cost to you, you should go ahead and do it.

Much more likely is that the only person who remembers is the person who would have been your POI. I wouldn't bring it up unless someone asks.

  • 2
    Thank you for your insightful and quick reply! I will go ahead and send my application then.
    – Aldobrandi
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 2:45
  • This is the correct answer
    – rpax
    Commented Jun 14, 2015 at 4:58

This is not bad. I did this exact thing. Hopefully they remember the application and the good things they thought about you!

I had personally met with someone that I wanted to be my advisor for my PhD and then ended up going somewhere else for my PhD. Five years later, I explicitly asked the person I turned down to be my PhD advisor to be my Postdoc sponsor for a grant I was applying for. I am now his postdoc. He had remembered me, and now we have a great working relationship.


As others have said, basically go for it! I just wanted to add the following responses.

  1. No, they gave you an offer and you weren't rude so it will only be positive if they do remember it.

  2. Don't bring it up but if they do, use the opportunity to say that you applied previously because you believe it is a good school and still do!

There are lots of opportunities to twist any awkward questions around this into a big positive, discussing how you have developed since your PhD, what you have gained/can bring to the school, what you liked about it then and now etc. The worst question would be why did you turn down our PhD offer X years ago, it would be very weird for them to ask this as its irrelevant really. If they did, just make sure you could say something suggesting the school is the best option for you now and at this stage of your career.


It is quite likely the people considering your lectureship candidacy are not aware you were accepted as a Ph.D. candidate and declined eventually. Probable, even, unless it's a very small department.

So my answers are: "Naah" and "Dude, no. Don't. Seriously."

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