Context: I've applied for several tenure-track positions. I have one or two favorites, but I'd gladly embrace any of them, basically because I only applied to good universities, with good programs, in good cities.

Question: Usually, they will just ignore the 'discarded' candidates or inform us of the decision?

In my previous experience, I was informed, after I asked via e-mail, several months later. I understand that it would be a significant amount of work, most places have more than 250 applicants per process, but no information at all is kind of rude, isn't?

I also know that the candidates that are selected for the interview are contacted, some universities give a tentative timeline, so you can infer if you were selected or not, but that's not the general case...

  • A related, and possibly duplicate, question academia.stackexchange.com/questions/8316/…
    – StrongBad
    Jan 3, 2016 at 22:19
  • Also related academia.stackexchange.com/questions/15117/…
    – StrongBad
    Jan 3, 2016 at 22:31
  • I don't know about CS, but in math we usually get several hundred applications (or more) for each general faculty search (our department typically doesn't target). It's just not practical to contact each applicant.
    – Kimball
    Jan 4, 2016 at 1:31
  • 2
    @Kimball but if HR valued it at all, their system would allow the search committee to send mass emails.
    – StrongBad
    Jan 4, 2016 at 14:47
  • I believe in some institutions, the search is not "finished" until the successful applicant has actually started work. Until then, all other applicants are theoretically still in the running, so rejection letters can't be sent until that time, which often is months later. Jan 4, 2016 at 16:58

3 Answers 3


The very best practice is to inform appplicants as soon as possible that they are no longer viable candidates. Thus, first round cuts would know quickly that they have not advanced to the second round.

Whether or not this was ever common practice is debatable but it is undoubtedly becoming rarer. Some reasons include :

  • Increased number of applicants: it is easier to tell twenty people they didn't make the cut, but some positions now receive several hundred applicants and search chairs are not always provided the tools they need for mass notification.

  • Bureacriticization: some universities require that no one be notified until the final candidate be found, offered the job, and they accept the position. This can often be over a year past the initial job posting and is a stupid rule. Others require HR to do all communications, but HR can often not be entirely responsive or communication can break down.

  • There is also variance caused by the degree of conscientious and amount of free time that the search chair has. Mid-career faculty often have absolutely no time due to administrative overload. Almost retired senior faculty have time but may have forgotten what it is like to be on the job market.

One crowd sourced solution is the job wikis that have sprung up. At least you'll know if and when the medium-round candidates have gotten telephone interviews (or the short list candidates have been invited to campus) and you can presume you're out of the running if you haven't.


My own experience was that whether and when a response came appeared to be exceedingly arbitrary. Some places gave a rapid "no", others gave a "no" after many months (one after more than a year), and some never said anything at all. I have heard of similar experiences from other people.

I have not been able to discern a pattern of which organizations are likely to fall into which category, and also know that different people seem to have different experiences with the same organization, presumably based on who is running the committee in a given year.

  • 2
    I think the committee chair is key here, having served on (but not chaired) several hiring committees. Jan 3, 2016 at 15:07
  • 2
    In some cases it's the responsibility of the human resources office rather than committee to do this. Also, these responses may be delayed if there's a delay in filling the position (e.g. because of negotiations with the candidates.) Jan 3, 2016 at 17:30
  • 1
    This is my own. I've gotten swift "No", "No" after enough time that it was absurdly obvious, and on occasion an automated "This position has now been filled" notice from HR. Along with just silence.
    – Fomite
    Jan 3, 2016 at 23:33
  • Also consistent with my experience. I never heard anything from the majority of schools I applied to. Nov 1, 2016 at 3:32

In France, for mathematics, there is a semi-officious website where results of almost all hiring committee appear the day the decision is taken (short lists, then rankings). It is incredibly useful to candidate, and to committee which need not e-mail each applicant individually to have the information reach them.

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