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I had an academic job interview for a tenure-track faculty position in January but have not heard anything yet (March now). Should I send an email asking for the status of the application? Can anyone please tell me what a proper email could be?

Thanks very much for the help.

3

I don't think there is a down side to emailing, although if they are not communicating with you it is not a good sign for your prospects. Of my 5 faculty rejections, 3 emailed me or called me, and 2 required me to email the search chair.

A possible email could use the language below. Parts of the email that are optional/circumstance-specific are in brackets.

Dear Chair,

Good afternoon! Thank you again for having me out to visit SCHOOL in January. I am writing to inquire about your decisionmaking timeline. [OR I am writing to let you know that I have received an offer from another institution.]

[My timeline for accepting this other offer is approximately X. I wonder if I could receive a response regarding your search within that time frame.]

[Is there anything you can tell me about the status of the search? From the timeline that you mentioned during my visit, I surmise that the school has made an offer to another candidate. Has that candidate accepted, or is the search still ongoing?]

Thank you once again for considering me for the position. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely, NAME

Thanks to Karen Kelsky's book The Professor is In for some of this language.

  • I am confused why this is down voted. The OP asks what a proper email could be. – Dawn Mar 24 '17 at 20:30
  • You answered the second question (What might such an email look like?) but didn't really address the first question (Should I send this email?). I upvoted it just now because it is a good email template that is both specific to the OP's question and adaptable to other situations, and so it helped me compose a similar email just now. I also upvoted the answer by @rturnbull because they answered the first question (though they ignored the second) by offering some thoughts that would help a person make the decision. – jvriesem Feb 9 at 19:51
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Ideally, towards the end of your visit in January the search chair would have let you know the projected timeline. Unfortunately that doesn't always happen.

In any case, I don't think it's unreasonable to drop them a quick email to ask if there are any updates. Before you do, however, be aware that you are likely to get an evasive answer or a non-answer. There are three likely reasons that you haven't heard anything:

  1. They don't want to hire you, but they forgot to tell you.
  2. They have offered the job to someone else, but are keeping you around as a backup in case the first person turns them down. They may be currently negotiating with the first person.
  3. They are still interviewing candidates, and won't decide for a while.

In case 1, you'll get a definite response. In cases 2 and 3, you won't learn anything, although they might be able to give you a rough estimate of when to expect to hear from them.

NB: If you have been offered a job at another institution, but you are still interested in this position, do definitely tell them. They may be able to speed up the process on their end to give you some more information.

  • I think in cases 2 and 3, you often gain a lot of information by asking. In case 3, they will probably tell you the timeline. I have been told that case 2 happened, and when a likely decision would happen. (Also, the code for case 2 can be "You are on the short list of candidates we are considering.") I've also seen case 4: they've decided not to hire anyone! – AJK Mar 24 '17 at 18:14

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