13

We frequently get questions like this one, along the lines of "I submitted an application / had an interview, but haven't heard back after X days / weeks / months. Have I been rejected? At what point can I send a follow-up e-mail?" It is understandable that askers are anxious, but of course the fact is that no one here can tell them what the status of their application is.

It seems like we do not have a consistent policy for these; they are usually left open, but occasionally closed as a duplicate or "individual factors." As I see it, there are three possible options:

  • Make a canonical question "What is the usual hiring timeline for academic positions in the US and Europe? Why haven't I heard back?", and the caveats about how things vary widely. This is probably the "friendliest" thing to do.
  • Close the questions as "depends on individual factors," since we cannot predict how long things will take or how a follow-up e-mail would be perceived.
  • Leave the questions open. This seems to be the most common outcome now.

I'd be inclined toward one of the first two. Thoughts?

Edit/Update: A candidate question/answer has been posted here. Please feel free to edit to improve. If more severe changes are needed, let's make a new meta post.

4
  • I'll go ahead and copy the first two bullets into answers so people can click to (dis)agree. Additional options / answers welcome.
    – cag51 Mod
    Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 17:19
  • Note that we already have a canonical question regarding the same problem with peer reviews – not that the situation is entirely comparable.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 17:54
  • I wonder if we should disaggregate the PhD positions here…. It seems they are very different than post-doc and faculty positions, at least in the US…
    – Dawn
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 15:48
  • The hiring process is totally different, but the advice ("you will hear something when you hear something; we cannot help you read the tea leaves") is the same, I think. If there's more we should tell the US PhD applicants, I would suggest we start by adding that to the existing answer, and then we can break it off if it becomes too unwieldy.
    – cag51 Mod
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 15:52

3 Answers 3

19

Make a canonical question "What is the usual hiring timeline for academic positions in the US and Europe? Why haven't I heard back?", and the caveats about how things vary widely.

11
  • 2
    I think that it's common enough as a question that it's worth having a dupe target like this; I think if we close them all as individual factors, people will still end up answering them in comments with basically the same sentiment that would be in the dupe target. Better to not duplicate the effort.
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 18:07
  • 5
    Wouldn't it be better to make this applicable to a wider variety of countries, something like How does the admissions process work for Ph.D. programs in Country X??
    – GoodDeeds
    Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 6:14
  • 1
    I would agree, but the linked post has only two entries for countries outside of Europe and North America, and I wrote both of them. :-) So, I would suggest that we make the dupe target for Europe and North America only, and if someone asks about a different country, then it won't be a duplicate.
    – cag51 Mod
    Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 16:25
  • 3
    I'm somewhat against this because we get a lot of questions in this genre that simply aren't answerable in a generalized way. I'd rather we take it upon ourselves to close these questions, and if they are genuinely somehow generalizable work with the asker to edit the question until it's no longer too individual in content.
    – user137975
    Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 18:22
  • 2
    I think either is a good solution (and better than the status quo). Looking at it from the asker's perspective, though, I think being linked to a post that says "we can't answer your question, but here's how timelines generally work, and here's what might be happening behind the scenes" seems more welcoming than just closing the question. The sort of back-and-forth clarifications with the asker that you describe sometimes work out well, but often the asker (especially new users) become hostile or make well-meaning edits that don't address the problem.
    – cag51 Mod
    Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 20:06
  • @cag51 I see the logic and don't anticipate stumping too hard against. But I do worry about a couple things: (1) We'll create a dupe target which, by plain language, doesn't answer some the questions we intend to close with it. F.ex. "Am I still under consideration?" just can't be answered in general. (2) The sentiment is positive, but where do we draw the line on making dupe targets for questions whose "real" answer is: "There's obviously no way for anyone to know, you need to take a deep breath worrying over things you can't control"?
    – user137975
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 0:23
  • As we get these types of questions in such large numbers, I think it would be good to have a canonical question to point them to, as it might lead some people to this question before asking a similar one themselves.
    – Sursula
    Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 9:55
  • 3
    Seems like this is the way to go. I'm on travel this week, but will draft a duplicate target in a week or two.
    – cag51 Mod
    Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 21:43
  • @AnonymousM: As you say, the answer is usually “This can’t be answered; take a deep breath and try not to worry”. So the point of a canonical dupe-target is precisely to give that answer in a thorough, constructive, and tactful way. The fact that the answer is in some sense a non-answer makes no difference to the advantages of writing it up well once and for all.
    – PLL
    Commented Feb 25, 2023 at 14:15
  • It feels generic instead of canonical because it has no details and so is unanswerable. The example question in this post DOES have these details. I feel like the example question in this post would make a better canonical question than what is there currently.
    – xxxxxxxxx
    Commented Feb 25, 2023 at 18:47
  • I'm really not sure what you mean. The text in the canonical question is longer and more detailed than the text above. The only content from above that I removed was "in the US and Europe," because the general answer (it's impossible to tell) doesn't really change. If you want to make a suggestion like "change X to Y" or "add this sentence", then I (and the rest of the community) will consider it. [Upon rereading, I did rephrase one sentence, maybe that will scratch your itch.]
    – cag51 Mod
    Commented Feb 25, 2023 at 18:53
5

Close the questions as "depends on individual factors," since we cannot predict how long things will take or how a follow-up e-mail would be perceived.

-4

Leave the question open unless it fits the typical scenario. Some such questions actually point to special circumstances that might affect the direction of an answer.

This would avoid the canonical answer from having too much "if this-then that".

Typical scenarios are asking after a few weeks. Typical answers are "You can ask but...".

Some such questions are asking for specific guidance on uncommon scenarios.

2
  • posted for complleteness
    – Buffy
    Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 14:57
  • 2
    I think the usual caveats for canonical questions would apply; i.e., if someone asks something interesting that's not yet covered by the canonical post, then it's left open. This is why we still allow plenty of questions about graduate admissions despite the canonical Q.
    – cag51 Mod
    Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 16:30

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