79

The general rule in these situations is that being honest is okay (though consider that it can be risky if word of your honesty makes it back to the boss), but it's important to stick to facts and to your opinions about your own situation/experience. "The team is destructive" is not something you should say, nor is "the lab is mismanaged"....


45

Is this usual behavior Short answer: no. Longer answer: I have heard many stories of bad workplaces, both in academia and beyond. Even at good workplaces one occasionally encounters weird, rude, and borderline exploitative practices and staff/employer attitudes. So perhaps it’s not entirely accurate to say it’s not usual. But by and large, the situation ...


28

I'm not sure why you are considering this "offer". You've given a lot of downsides that could easily lead to future pain and suffering. But other than a weak endorsement in your first paragraph, you haven't really given any positive aspects to this position. If you have any other offer(s) with better conditions, you should probably consider them ...


22

Yes, you should be honest, but you may be able to do it without jeopardizing yourself or assigning blame to individuals. You can also answer "no comment" to questions that you think would leave you vulnerable, and the candidate is likely to get the proper implication. In fact, stating that "Off the record, I'd prefer to be elsewhere" is ...


22

Currently, I am in a similar situation (working since 12 months as a postdoc in the U.S. with a scholarship that covers 24 months from the "NIH" of my home country). Similar to what you described, I came expecting to be a regular postdoc based on the prior communication with the PI. Personal situation: Upon my arrival, I quickly realized that my PI ...


13

While it might sometimes be possible to convert the funding from a PhD to a postdoc position, in general I don't think it's a good idea to apply as a postdoc for a PhD position. That being said, you can always contact the PI and ask whether they would have another position for a postdoc. Often, there are many more projects advertised for prospective PhD ...


11

5h commute a day for 2 weeks is not acceptable, pandemic or not. To play it tactfully, I would ask the supervisor to pay for accommodation there for these 2 weeks. This will force your supervisor to: pay for it, so reconsider whether it is worth it. if she pays officially for it, she must check whether that trip is authorized by the university considering ...


10

In my view you have three options: sit out, leave and stand up. I share some thoughts about standing up. Your institution must have a behavioral integrity policy. You can talk to an ombudsperson or thrust person. You can do this anonymously. You are not the first and this is important information. Document the cases. Try to find and speak to your ...


10

In this situation, I believe in being a tactful truth-teller but not a complainer. You are entitled to describe your opinions and feelings (truth) but not those of others (gossip). Example Q: What's it like working here? A: I have to admit the approach here feels a little too combative for me - I'm sure everyone has their own opinion. If you are worried ...


10

I want to warn you about a red flag that I see, which has come up in two parts of your question: The lab manager (quite unfriendly) told me that given that I have my own funding I will be only considered a "visiting postdoc" and would not receive benefits. When I asked about more details, she told me to "google". and: I asked them ...


7

It depends on what you mean by rejection. It's pretty clear that they are not willing to take you into the lab at this moment, but it's not a firm no. My read is that it's politely interested without being committal. I read it as follows: The professor gave you specific feedback about your e-mail, suggesting they took the time to actually read what you ...


7

I think you are thinking of it backwards. You should use this offer to try to get an early decision from the other professor! You can say that you're very interested in their position, but you also have another competing offer. You could ask them to make a decision, or give you a timeline for when a decision would be made. Then, to the professor you have the ...


7

Simply saying that you are more interested in the earlier research direction ('topic A') than the current one, should be fine. Thank him for getting back to you, but you don't need to say more. No need, of course, to say you think that the new topic (B) is boring. But "Thanks" is all you need to express. One thing that might happen is that you get ...


6

Being in your shoes is extremely difficult. But from my related experiences the best option, in my opinion, is to leave this PI. The moment he throws something or yells, immediately raise a complaint with the university. Throwing something at someone with the intent to injure is a criminal offence. Your PI might very well lose his job. Yelling at you is ...


6

You can certainly ask again after a year (or less, perhaps). She may have forgotten, or may just be busy. There shouldn't be any issue with such a mail. You might also use the mail to fill her in on what you've accomplished in the interim - briefly.


5

Does it make sense to apply for such a position even if you already have a PhD, in the hope that they might also consider a post-doc instead? Yes, in general, this makes sense, because there is a chance that the position can be converted into a postdoc position. Whether that's indeed the case will depend on the nature of the funding. In some cases it will ...


4

You are putting up your own roadblocks. Your GPA isn't material if you have a doctorate. The quality of your dissertation might be. The recommendations from your advisor and others might be. But you should at least apply to a few external places, perhaps both for post docs and for regular positions. If you go to industry it might be hard to return to ...


4

"choose your first tenure-track institution wisely, since you won't be able to move to a more prestigious university -- only comparable or weaker ones." While I agree to choose your first tenure-track position wisely, I disagree with the reason that "you won't be able to move to a more prestigious university". If you perform extremely ...


4

There are no strict rules on how and when one should respond to an informal offer (offers from academics are considered informal until you hear from HRs officially). Generally, you should treat professors as human beings and apply your best judgement. There is nothing wrong in asking how long you can consider the offer, e.g. Thank you very much for your ...


4

First, if you feel depressed you should seek professional help. Naturally because you should take care of your mental health in general, but also because you're less likely to achieve anything useful (let alone get a new job) with a negative state of mind. Ok so publications as first author is not going to be your selling point. Now there are certainly a lot ...


4

I certainly wouldn't recommend sitting on the project for a number of years. Science moves on and so do the participants. But, even if you have to take a different, lesser, role, you can probably move forward with the project. I don't know if you need a "diplomatic" response, just an honest one. If you can stay connected with the project, if even ...


4

If asked by the candidate, should I be honest about the working environment? Yes, be honest and describe details regarding different aspects of lab life. However: You should make it clear you're describing your own experience, and it's possible that others don't see it that way (if others really don't all see it the same way as you do). Try avoiding ...


3

I have successfully left a similar work environment in Europe. When asked by a prospective postdoc candidate I choose to give direct, factual and honest answers. I would have appreciated a similar warning myself. If you feel that you can not safely say anything too negative without endangering yourself, then I think some of the other answers give excellent ...


3

While a Postdoc is a training position, you're also something of a "hired gun". In a normal situation, the PI needs something done, and hires a postdoc to do it. Bringing your own money to the position isn't very typical. Sometimes profs have absolutely no awareness of the red tape required to bring in a postdoc, or any employee, and assume ...


3

I think you will have to be transparent about the relationship in the lab when potential employers ask for that reference. However, assuming you warned whatever graduate degree you had, it can also be taken as a sign that despite a toxic work environment you were able to still carve out success. Everyone has experienced a toxic work environment, so if your ...


3

Don't worry too much, can happen, has happened to me and I am sure to others as well. Just be polite and emphasize your own preferences. You could write for instance that you really appreciate their offer as you admire their work, but that you plan to specialize on topic XY.


2

If you believe this person is abusive, the first step is to quietly discuss this with students/postdocs in the group or who are or were otherwise in contact with this person. If indeed this is not a singular issue, then you should quietly talk to either the chair/graduate chair/some faculty member to discuss the situation. Please be sure to establish first ...


2

So he says he's interested but acts like he's not? Then you are probably not very high on his priority list. You could e-mail him again after a week or two, but it probably won't get a different outcome. I'd suggest you move on.


2

If you were given a deadline to accept or reject the offer, you should respect it. Otherwise you can wait a short time (a few days) before replying. If it is longer than that you need to find an explanation for your delay and ask for a bit more time to consider. Your situation isn't unique, of course. A few days delay is acceptable, but after a week your ...


2

Pretend you are going to have a discussion with this person ten years in the future. At that point, you will be free to discuss everything without repercussions. What will you be comfortable telling the candidate at that point? Here are some possible examples: "My own experience was bad, I understood others to feel the same way, and I was planning to ...


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