I am applying for post-doc position. I was invited for two interviews on close dates. I already did the first one and got the job. I am going to accept the offer because the research is very nice, the institution has high publication-records and it is closer to my family. Unfortunately one of the tasks at this post-doc requires close collaboration with the second interviewer. My question is:

  • how to inform the second interviewer that I got a post-doc position already?
  • Should I go to the interview anyway, although I know I am going to reject the offer?
  • Could I say something like:

    Dear blablabla, In the past few days I was offered to work somewhere and I think I am going to accept the offer for personal reasons, but in any case, as our research is going to be close I would like to use my "interview-time" for giving a talk and know the research being conducted at your institute better?

Some of my colleagues told me that they have had very bad experience while rejecting job's offers or interview, so please, let's me know if you have been in a similar situation and which way you think is the less "harmful"?

  • 7
    In my experience, all employers realize that good candidates will often have multiple good offers, and choosing one of these good offers isn't a negative evaluation of the others. (And even if it were, so what? We can't control other people's opinions.) It's not utterly impossible that the rejected employer decides to get upset about it, but if that happens, it's not your fault and you'll find a way to deal with it. Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 18:48
  • 1
    If there are strong ties between the research groups, the second group might have heard already that you've accepted the first group's offer. It'll then cause a great deal of confusion all round if you interview for the second one.
    – innisfree
    Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 11:57
  • Furthermore, I don't see this as a tricky situation. Postdocs often accept jobs and turn down others. Nothing unusual and I'd expect no hard feelings.
    – innisfree
    Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 12:00

3 Answers 3


Don't go -- it's a waste of everyone's time if you go to an interview without any intention of taking the job. People get (rightfully) more upset about you wasting their time than you not wanting a job because you've already found one elsewhere.

Besides, if you will be required to collaborate with the person with whom you were to have your second interview, they (i) may have personal contacts with the research group where you accepted the job, (ii) may already know that you took the first job, and (iii) will need to be among your friends. Simply inform them that you took the first job (and not beat around the bush by saying "somewhere" or "think I am accepting" when you have already accepted). Offering to come anyway for a collaboration or a seminar is fine.

  • 9
    This. If they're close collaborators they probably are realistic enough to realize that there's like to be an overlap in the pool of candidates they're drawing upon.
    – Flexo
    Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 7:23
  • Flexo gives exactly the reason I thought of for Lucia to not worry about this, after handling it simply as Wolfgang Bangerth stated.
    – Pysis
    Commented Nov 9, 2016 at 15:12

You're over-thinking this. Tell the second interviewer what you just told us: you've already accepted a job at the other institution because being closer to your family and so on made you prefer to be closer to be there.

Don't say that you want to use your "interview time" to give them a presentation. That feels like you're saying, "You agreed to spend time with me for reason X. Now the reason has changed to Y but I feel you're obliged to give me the time anyway." Honestly, interviewing people requires enough concentration that I'd much rather take an hour off if a candidate cancelled, rather than sitting through yet another talk.

However, given that you will be working with these people anyway, it would be completely appropriate to offer to visit the institution at a time that's convenient for everyone. Bear in mind, though, that the "convenient time" might just be, "Well, you'll be visiting anyway as part of your new job so we'll just meet you then."

  • 5
    Using "interview time" anyway may be appropriate if non-refundable flights/accommodation have already been booked. Less "give a presentation", though, and more "meet with people and setup the collaboration". But ideally you'd wait until you're established at the new postdoc: too little will be accomplished on a too-early visit that it may be better just eating the non-refundable costs. -- If you do go, you or your new boss (not the 2nd interviewer) probably should pay for any additional costs the 2nd interviewer hasn't already paid for.
    – R.M.
    Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 14:54
  • 1
    @R.M. Good point about non-refundable costs. Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 15:37

I recommend honesty. Call well before the interview and explain what happened.

If they'd still like a shot at selling you, I'd go and feel utterly guiltless for wasting their time. Otherwise, you saved everybody a couple hours.

Either way, this will make you seem bold, thoughtful, and honest. Not a bad beginning to a relationship, working or otherwise. If there is friction after that, it was not your doing.

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