I have applied for an academic job at a good university in Denmark, but as a non-Dane I've been trying to learn about how the hiring process works. Can someone explain to me the various steps in the process, and tell me about the timeline for the steps? More specific questions in bold below.

Here's my basic understanding so far:

  1. Collecting applications.

They sent an email to the applicants saying that there were 70-ish applications for a very attractive junior position. That seemed like a very small pool of applicants to me, but the tone of the email suggested that the department took it to be an unusually large pool. How many applicants would an Assistant Professor position in the humanities usually get in Denmark?

  1. Candidates vetted by an external panel.

When I applied, I was told the names of the three evaluators who would read the applications. The evaluators declared me "qualified" for the position. I'm having trouble now figuring out exactly what that means. Does the external panel rank applicants with two grades (qualified/unqualified) or three (best qualified/qualified/unqualified)? Further, on average, what proportion of applicants are judged "qualified"?

  1. ??

I'm not clear what comes next. The email from the university said someone from the Human Resources department would contact me. I'm curious whether there will be additional steps in the process, like a trial lecture or an interview with the faculty of the department I would be joining. Will the human resources department simply choose to hire someone on the basis of the external panel's report, or will the department make the choice? Either way, what criteria will be used to make the choice, since the external panel doesn't appear to rank the candidates in order.

  • I saw a pdf online (that I can't find again) which suggested that ~30% academic positions in Denmark in 2009 had only a single qualified candidate. I take it that that number must be artificially high because of senior positions that are "advertised" in order to promote someone to a full-professorship or something, right? I would think almost all junior level positions should have at least a dozen qualified candidates, even with fewer than a hundred applicants, right?
    – user10636
    May 11, 2016 at 13:42
  • 1
    In my case it was expicitly stated that there can be more than one applicant who is found qualified, although I am not sure how many exactly are found qualified, and my field is not humanities.
    – adipro
    May 11, 2016 at 14:14
  • 1
    Then came a letter from the Dean and another email from Human Resources.
    – adipro
    May 11, 2016 at 14:22
  • From comments I heard about positions in Sweden, they tend to get many applications of people woefully under qualified (straight from PhD, low quality degrees, little research experience...). My guess is that the external panel is a first quick filter to get rid of these cases.
    – Davidmh
    May 11, 2016 at 15:05

1 Answer 1


Disclaimer: I work as a postdoc in social sciences in a Danish university. I have seen parts of the process from the inside on a few occassions, once very closely.

In my experience, more than 20 applicants should be considered quite a few, and I suspect this is especially true in the Humanities, unless it is an extremely coveted area.

Applications are graded qualified/unqualified, usually along with a brief statement on the reasoning.

The dean may make a shortlist of favourite candidates as a recommendation, but it will usually be the department head making the decision. At my department, relevant senior researchers/associate profs get a say too, and the process is quite democratic.

I have never heard of anyone being hired without an interview. Test lectures are sometimes used, e.g for tenure-track positions.

  • +1, Thank you. Do you have any ideas about what percentage of candidates are judged qualified? or any idea where to look to find additional sources?
    – user10636
    May 11, 2016 at 17:42
  • The grading is purely technical, as far as that is possible. As another comment to your OP suggested, it is to weed out the underqualified, which in some cases can be quite a few. If I were you, I would be glad to have passed that hurdle, but not get my hopes up based on that.
    – ipoga
    May 11, 2016 at 17:45
  • As for further information, the HR department should have that on their website - should being the imperative word here. I doubt there is any harm in contacting them. I would be hesitant about contacting the prof. though. Very hesitant.
    – ipoga
    May 11, 2016 at 17:48

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