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Should I go for this interview?

(27 Posts)
HamIn Fri 06-Jan-17 16:21:46


I was interviewed for a research post that I was really keen on a few months ago that I wasn't successful for. I emailed the lead academic to thank him and asked for feedback too, but didn't hear back from him. They also promised to get back to me in a week, and I had to chase them for 3 weeks to get a response from HR (I felt ignored to be honest).

The post then came up again, it looks almost exactly the same as the previous one. I put an application in again (the only thing that has changed since then is that my PhD thesis has gone from first submission to supervisor to actually being submitted - just waiting for viva now). I've now been called for interview again. Are they wasting my time? It's quite a long journey for the interview and I don't want to waste my time and money going if they already have someone in place, and frankly I felt ignored previous time. Any advice? Is this common? And should I just go?

Chaotica Fri 06-Jan-17 16:26:30

I'd go. They might be taking the piss, but it also would make a genuine difference that you have a submitted thesis. It is common not to get jobs in the latter stages of a phd with the recommendation to 'apply again later'.

Don't read anything into slow university HR departments -- they are SLOW. And you may have come second and so they may have been waiting for a firm acceptance from someone else.

Good luck!

impostersyndrome Fri 06-Jan-17 20:35:05

Consider asking if they have a travel budget so that they can reimburse you.

Good luck!

ThisYearWillbeBetter Sat 07-Jan-17 10:05:36

If you want to have a chance for the job, go. You don't have a chance otherwise.

If you don't want the job, simple. Don't attend the interview.

I'd say, like PPs, that having submitted makes a difference. Although for most RCUK funded posts, an awarded PhD is usually required, not just submitted. But I remember (back in the musts of time) that I got 2 job offers after being awarded my PhD whereas 6 months earlier I was scratching for work or even interviews.

HamIn Sat 07-Jan-17 17:04:42

Thanks, I will go for it. I am very keen on it but don't want my time wasted.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 08-Jan-17 09:38:23

Just to add, IME it is not a given that you'd get feedback from an interview anyway. I'm postdoc, and I've been through applications where it's stated quite explicitly that there will not be feedback provided, and others where this isn't stated, but where it was clear from the responses I got that they weren't prepared to give much in-depth feedback.

So I wouldn't count that against them.

They ought to reimburse you for travel, though, I'd think.

HamIn Sun 08-Jan-17 13:27:24

Thanks LRD for sharing your experience. Its only in academia where its completely acceptable to ignore emails, a reply saying 'sorry we can't give you feedback' I would have been very happy with.

ThisYearWillbeBetter Sun 08-Jan-17 14:05:50

No, I don't think it's only in academia. Most academics can be very generous with their feedback & advice. If you simply contacted HR you'll get zilch. bUT can you ask via your scholarly networks for feedback? Most academic stuff like this is done via informal mentoring networks. I spend probably half a day a week doing this sort of thing for people.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 08-Jan-17 17:31:42

I tend to assume (maybe wrongly) that feedback is a courtesy rather than a right? Could be that everyone was just pretty busy. And if they knew immediately post-interview that the position would be re-advertised, it might be there was so discussion about how to give feedback, mightn't it?

user7214743615 Sun 08-Jan-17 17:40:50

Its only in academia where its completely acceptable to ignore emails.

Have you worked outside academia at all?

It is not acceptable in academia to ignore emails but at the same time academics have very high workloads and have to prioritise their time. Your request may simply have come at a time when that academic was working 70+ hours per week teaching, finishing research, finalising a grant application etc and they didn't have time to respond to you.

I have worked both in academia and in elsewhere and I think it somewhat naive to expect that you would get more feedback from a failed job attempt outside academia. The opposite actually: in many competitive areas outside academia you can be actively attacked during interview and told nothing more than you were unsuccessful. Academics want you to succeed and are, very often, happy to give constructive feedback.

ThisYearWillbeBetter Sun 08-Jan-17 17:55:58

Academics want you to succeed and are, very often, happy to give constructive feedback


You don't sound very keen on this OP - thinking of an interview as "wasting" your time ... The only way you have any chance of getting the job is interviewing for it. The best way not to get the job is not to be interviewed.

HamIn Sun 08-Jan-17 19:41:14

I'm really pleased to hear that your experience has been different. I have worked for many years outside of academia and in academia too, and it's only in academia I have found that it's OK to ignore emails, using the excuse of heavy workload. Heavy workloads are not exclusive to academia.

HamIn Sun 08-Jan-17 19:45:21

ThisYear can you please tell me a little bit more about these 'informal mentoring networks'?

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 09-Jan-17 09:02:00

Informal mentoring is basically networking. Your supervisor would talk to you about it - if they're any good, they will have got you going to conferences, sharing work with people, and so on. So you go to those people for advice. They (and your external examiner) will be your first non-supervisor referees, and the people who'll help you figure things out.

You want a group of people, some your level and some senior, whom you can talk to when you have a bad interview, and who'll be able to give you reasonably informed speculations about what might have gone wrong.

Btw, I still think you're being harsh about the emails. It could be no one meant to 'ignore' you - but you might have been asking for more than was forthcoming. I am a lowly postdoc, and I get emails nearly every day from people who want me to give them advice on applications, to sponsor them to do work, to tell me about jobs. My faculty's advice is that I just forward these to HR or Admissions. So I am sure many of those people think I'm a horrible stuck-up academic who ignores her emails. I'm not - but those people were misinformed if they thought it'd be helpful to email me.

Could be that the lead academic on this job was in a similar boat, especially knowing that they would have to re-advertise shortly. Feedback isn't a right you have.

user7214743615 Mon 09-Jan-17 09:50:35

whom you can talk to when you have a bad interview, and who'll be able to give you reasonably informed speculations about what might have gone wrong.

But typically it's not that something went wrong - academic posts are very over-subscribed with many strong applicants. To stay on academia, you need to develop a thick skin and not read too much into any rejection.

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 09-Jan-17 09:56:04

That's all I meant by 'what went wrong,' though. It can certainly be as simple as over-subscription. Some of the most helpful advice I had was someone simply giving me the numbers of people who'd applied to her for a similar post, which reassured me no end. Or indeed it can be useful to know that the committee almost certainly won't consider you without the PhD in hand (or without the book accepted, or whatever it may be).

I have a thick enough skin not to feel that figuring out 'what went wrong' must involve breast-beating and assumptions that something is me. smile

ThisYearWillbeBetter Mon 09-Jan-17 10:07:07

Excellent advice, graciously given LRD - an example of informal networking.

Foureyesarebetterthantwo Mon 09-Jan-17 11:22:31

I don't think they are wasting your time. I would not take a post-doc on who hadn't submitted their PhD, too much room for them overrunning. Fine if they have submitted and have viva date.

I would definitely go, they like you enough to shortlist you twice! However, this does not mean you will get the job, just that you are good enough to be considered with the other candidates who may be different to last time. If you don't get the job, it doesn't mean they were never intending to employ you, the judgement is made each time individually, and it's sad if you see a 'nearly made it' person twice and they don't get it, but you just have to pick the best person. These days the competition is hot, and you've done well to get selected twice. Good luck if you decide to go!

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 09-Jan-17 11:33:21

Thanks thisyear. blush

four's post reminds me - I know a professor who went up for the professorship twice, was interviewed twice, and was rejected twice. She ended up with the professorship after the second rejection, when negotiations with the first-selected candidate fell through! And she's excellent.

HamIn Mon 09-Jan-17 19:59:23

Thank you everyone for your advice, it is much appreciated smile

I may have come across slightly more negative than I intended. I've been ignored by many including my own supervisors, so I think it has all just been building up. Thanks for the advice to have a thicker skin, I promise I am working on that.

HamIn Thu 19-Jan-17 10:46:06

Hi, I just wanted to give you all an update. I had the interview almost two weeks ago now, which went well. I was promised they'd call me back at the end of the day but I still haven't heard anything back (I'm assuming I probably didn't get it). I've chased it up with HR a few times who said they haven't heard back from the lead recruiter, and therefore they have no update to give me. I'm disappointed that I was made promises again that were not kept to. I'm surprised as this is a well respected department in a well respected university. I'm sure you will tell me that this is all completely normal (which actually may make me feel better so please do if that's the case). Thanks again for your support and advice.

iveburntthetoast Thu 19-Jan-17 18:42:31

To be honest, no, it's not normal in my experience. The longest I've known between interview and being told yes/no is 8 days (once). Most of the time, I was given an answer in under 72 hours

user7214743615 Thu 19-Jan-17 19:48:10

I suspect that there is some kind of internal politics going on with this post.

In my area it might not be that unusual for a decision to take a while, but at the same time it would not be normal to tell candidates that the decision should be made that day, and then tell them nothing for 2 weeks.

If they have offered it to another candidate, it would be usual to tell you this, and indicate approximately where you were in the ranking. If they haven't offered it out at all (for a second time, apparently), then it seems there is something weird going on.

Is it possible that there is a tension between the lead academic and co-investigators on the research project? That they can't agree on a candidate?

purplepandas Thu 19-Jan-17 21:03:52

I have known this happen to a colleague (at the uni I am based). It was because they had offered the person to the first choice but he/she was deliberating. They would not tell the other candidate this though so he/she was kept waiting for two weeks with no news and repeated promises of updates.

ThisYearWillbeBetter Thu 19-Jan-17 21:36:17

Yes, I've seen delays like that as well purplepandas. It's really difficult for everyone.

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