Many months ago I applied for a postdoc position in a university in Norway. About one month ago I got a letter from the university with an evaluation of all candidates. In this evaluation, I was deemed qualified for the position and classified fourth.

I thought that the game was lost, since only one position was announced. But last week I contacted one of the committee members to ask for more information and he said that the other three candidates had already found jobs elsewhere, either in the industry, or some other postdoc position, and that very likely I would get the position if I'm still interested.

I can believe this is the case, since this is one of the slowest hiring processes I have ever been involved, and surely the other applicants already had time to get other offers.

They explained me that even if they know informally that the other candidates are not anymore interested in the job, by law they are obliged to send a formal offer to the first classified, and if they refuse, they will send an offer to the second and so on. My question is:

  1. Assuming none of the candidates accepts the job, how long will the process still take until I'm offered the position?
  2. How long is the minimum waiting time for the answer of each candidate?

ps: Please, I would like to have an answer from somebody experienced with the Norwegian hiring system. In Norway postdoc positions are considered government jobs and therefore are subject to a very strict (and peculiar) hiring process.

  • The procedure and the length of the hiring process look very similar to the Italian ones. I've thought we had the slowness world record, but it appears that there are competitors :-) May 16, 2016 at 8:35
  • 1
    I don't think there is a standard waiting period. The law likely has a minimum, but the university or the department may stablish a longer one, there may be some administrative overhead between candidates... You should ask them.
    – Davidmh
    May 16, 2016 at 10:13
  • 4
    I have applied for both a postdoc and an associate professor positions in Norway. For the postdoc position, it took about 2 months from the time I applied to the time the position was offered to someone. The same took about 6 months for the associate professor position.
    – adipro
    May 16, 2016 at 15:57
  • @adipro Could you make that an answer?
    – Tommi
    Feb 15, 2018 at 15:13

1 Answer 1


I see that the question is old, and hopefully, you have already started in your position. However, I will try to answer anyway for the benefit of others.

I was previously employed at a Norwegian university as a PhD student. The slowness you describe is sadly very familiar.

When I received offers for PhD positions (~5 years ago), I did get formal letters like you describe, but in some cases more informal contact forms were used to speed up the process. The deadline for me to respond to these formal offers was two weeks. As have been mentioned in the comments there may be some administrative overhead in between the candidates. I do not know for sure, but having observed how slow administrative units can move at Norwegian universities, I wouldn't be surprised if the overhead is substantial.

The best way to speed the process up is to find someone at the university that is interested in someone -- you -- starting in the position as soon as possible. Typically, this will be the professor you will be working for. This professor can then push the administration to work faster and contact the people ahead of you on the ranking list to kindly ask them to withdraw their applications, seeing as they already have accepted another position anyway. As there is no need to send formal offers to people who have withdrawn their applications, this last part can speed up the process tremendously. If you can't get a professor involved in your case, trying someone in the university administration can also be effective (but it is my impression that it is harder to get the administration involved).

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