I've just started to apply for faculty positions and received an invitation for a phone interview scheduled for next week. I am not in rush at the moment to accept a faculty position.

Earlier this year I had a friendly conversation with a chair at a school who I had an opportunity to work with in different capacities and discussed with him a potential faculty position at his department. He is the hiring person and it is a school that I am interested in. He suggested a few months ago that I can fit into a number of projects that are ongoing at the school. Back then I was not as advanced as I am today in my Ph.D. studies and since then I've defended my proposal and expect to graduate in seven months.

However, I expressed my interest in a faculty position and indicated that I expect to defend my dissertation in August this year. Few days ago, I've informed him that I've received an invitation for job interview and indicated that I remain interested in a position at their school. He stated that as of now, there might not be a position because they expect two new research hires and doesn't know how this will impact the school`s budget. Then he stated that if I don't like what I would be offered or don't receive an offer, we can discuss a position.

Just a small update, eight months ago I asked if I could receive a post-doctoral fellowship position at their school.

My question is: I didn't respond to him yet and I am confused how to understand this last statement that he made?. is this part of the negotiation process?. I prefer this school over other schools for now until i find something better.

  • Where is the location and what is the field? Hiring practices differ widely.
    – RoboKaren
    May 2, 2017 at 22:57
  • This is a medical school in the midwest in the U.S.
    – Change
    May 2, 2017 at 23:10
  • You marked this question as "postdocs" - but you're not a post-doc right now, and neither the actual offer nor the offer you would have liked to receive are for a post-doctoral researcher, right?
    – einpoklum
    May 3, 2017 at 22:38
  • Also, why are you "not in a rush at the moment"? Is it because your Ph.D. is not concluded yet, or are there other reasons?
    – einpoklum
    May 3, 2017 at 22:39

3 Answers 3


FYI I am not in a medical school, but this seems relatively straightforward to me. Hopefully someone will correct if there is a different norm in those departments.

Most departments receive authorizations to hire faculty positions ("faculty [budget] lines") from entities that are higher up the organizational hierarchy, such as a dean or other central administration person. So even if this person is a department chair, they may not have the authorization to create new lines. They may have the authorization to create post-doc positions, since those can come out of shorter term pots of money.

This person may be implying that a non-faculty (post-doc, perhaps) position would be possible, depending on how much of the budget gets sucked up in the two new researchers' salaries/packages. They seem to think you would not be a great fit for those two new research positions. But they won't know about the post-doc until later. They also assume you will also not be able to decide on this until you have explored your faculty positions, since, for most people, permanent/faculty positions dominate post-doc positions.

  • Thanks. I am honestly more interested in a post doc than in a faculty position at this point in my career. it would give me the opportunity to decide where I want to get a tenure faculty position. Post doc position has many other benefits without the pressure of tenure especially that I started to have a second thought about whether or not I want a tenure position right after graduation from my program. How should I respond to his email in a way that doesnt offend him while I keep all options on the table at the same time?
    – Change
    May 3, 2017 at 8:47
  • Perhaps something along the lines of "Thank you for the Insight. I will keep you informed about my job search process."... and then actually keep the person informed. You should also be applying lots of places and making connections for post-docs elsewhere.
    – Dawn
    May 3, 2017 at 19:29
  • Thanks a lot. This was helpful. I am at the moment applying for post docs and faculty positions elsewhere. Thanks again.
    – Change
    May 3, 2017 at 20:00

I have served on search committees in the medical field and, like other fields, it can be a very slow process, so a phone interview may be months (and months) away from an actual job offer down the line. It sounds like this person is interested in having you work in his/her department. However, there are many other factors at play here. For instance, it sounds like he is unsure if there would be a faculty and/or post-doc line available next year.

Although a post-doc may be preferred at this time, the competition for post doc and faculty positions is fierce. If you pass up other opportunities and cannot be hired by your colleague, do you have a plan for the meanwhile? Also, your colleague may be able to wrestle some money to fund you for one year at his/her institution, but expect you to secure funding for future years if you will stay (many medical schools are increasingly using this model). Are you in a position to support yourself from year 2+?

In my opinion, accept opportunities for phone and campus interviews that you are given, if they are places you wouldn't mind working. Then, if an offer is made (or not made at the end of the season), it sounds like your colleague will have more pull or incentive to advocate for some support for you from the upper administration. Remember that you can always take a job at another institution and transfer later if a job opens up elsewhere. Good luck! Hope this helps.


I`m finished with the phone interview. I just received a phone call from the committee extending an offer for a visit to campus and face to face interview. I honestly didnt expect the process to move so fast but it turned out that the department is hiring a lot of faculty members because they are expanding both research and teaching.

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