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I am currently applying for research and faculty positions. After an initial phone interview, how can I politely ask for feedback on the status of my application?

What are the necessary, optional, and unwise topics of such a letter?

As a concrete example, here is a quick draft:

I am writing to follow up on our discussion a few weeks ago about the position in (My Field) at (Your Institution). I remain very interested in the position and would appreciate the opportunity to work with you and the (XYZ) group.

In particular, have you been able to narrow the list of candidates, and am I included? Is there any additional information that I could provide to support my application?

I also appreciate that you sent me a copy of your unpublished manuscript. It promises to make an important contribution to the field by providing the type of robust approach to (The Method) that is required. I would like to learn more - would you be willing to share the supplementary information with me as well?

3 Answers 3

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The only necessary component is the line "I was wondering about the status of my application".

Asking whether you can provide additional information is unlikely to help, as the question is too open-ended. It would be an excellent question to ask at the end of the interview phone call, as well as in the follow-up "thank you" email, but beyond that it appears desperate, which is typically not a good characteristic of an applicant.

The comment about the unpublished manuscript is unrelated, and therefore pretty neutral. It just as well could be sent in a second email.

It's worth mentioning that inquiring about the status of your application is pretty similar to habanero sauce; use judiciously, and very sparingly, and it's often best not to use it at all.

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    Actually, I think the comment about the unpublished manuscript is ethically fishy. Just ask about the status of your application; don't try (or appear to try) to butter up the person you're asking.
    – JeffE
    Mar 6, 2012 at 16:05
  • @JeffE - Maybe, I can see it being interpreted that way. I would just send it in a separate email, sent at least two days before/after the follow-up email.
    – eykanal
    Mar 6, 2012 at 16:54
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+25

As someone who has been participating in more of these hiring discussions recently, and been responsible for filling some of them myself, I would encourage you to use extreme caution before sending out such emails.

Faculty search committees usually consist of faculty members who are already quite overworked, and who have to deal with potentially many candidates who may all want to pester them with questions. If somebody starts acting like a nuisance, they might consider that person "not a team player" and reject the application on those grounds alone.

However, there are a few times when it is appropriate to ask about such deadlines:

  • When you have received an offer from another institution, but the institution you're writing to is a higher-perference choice. Then you are doing two things: you're making sure that you get an informed decision, plus you're also letting the other guys know that if they're interested in you, they'll need to make a move quickly.

  • If you have a major update to announce. This might include a change in location (new position, new mailing address, etc.) as well as status updates—you've earned a promotion or a major award. Then it would be OK to mention this in an email.

  • It is well past the "standard" deadline, or a promised deadline. Then you're just following up on an arrangement, and it's hard to argue against this.

However, you should never ask if you are included on the list of finalists. That's considered both rude, as well as unfair to everybody else involved. Like eykanal, I think the last paragraph in your excerpt is always superfluous, and should not be included in an email requesting a status update. (You could and perhaps should send it as part of a thank-you note to the interviewer.)

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  • +1 you wrote a much better version of what I was writing at the same time!
    – Amy
    Mar 8, 2012 at 16:08
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They'll call you if they want to call you.

In general, the only appropriate times to contact a potential employer following an interview are:

  1. Immediately afterwards, to thank the interviewer for their time (and reiterate your interest in the position). Do this within 24 hours of the interview.
  2. If you have another offer somewhere else. In that case, it's appropriate to ask the status of your application so that you can have the opportunity to consider both.

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