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Paul Carron

The last two committees I have been on, we make it a point to send emails to all candidates as soon as decisions have been made. Unless HR rules are the culprit, I don't understand the delay. Having said that, I personally would not begrudge a kind and brief email, but do be aware that committee members might be overwhelmed or dealing with various internal conflicts or pressures and therefore you might not hear back right away. But I certainly think it is fine to asked for an update.

stated clearly

My sense - working at a typical state college - is that HR has now tied the hands of faculty. These schools are so afraid of litigation that they would rather say nothing. Even with follow up after a hire, the chair of the hiring committee was scared shitless. She was afraid that if we said anything, and it got back to HR that the department would be punished. Such schools are so conscious of their public image.

Bill Vanderburgh

A delay is not a guarantee of not getting the offer. So many things can delay responses. Sometimes a decision-maker like a dean or provost is away at a conference. Sometimes there is a glitch, or a disagreement that needs to be negotiated. Typically, a background check needs to be done before an official offer can be made (and those are taking longer these days). Often, committees are not allowed to contact other candidates until the official offer has been accepted--that can be weeks after the last interview. Search committees are often not in control of the process, especially in the late stages. You can ask, but a non-response is probably because of a gag-order from HR at that stage of the search.


If a committee has told you 'we expect to have reached a decision after N days', and N+1 days have passed, then I don't see why they should think badly of you for following up. Indeed, there might even be worries going in the other direction: *not* ever following up with them might give them the impression that you've simply stopped caring about the position, or that you aren't particularly invested in it.

As long as you're not pushy, and you take steps to come across as understanding, then I'm not sure why your continued interest ought to be viewed as a bad thing. (By 'understanding', I mean you find a way to communicate that you understand the enormous amount of time, effort, and deliberation that goes into a search process, that you're grateful and delighted to have had the opportunity to interview, that you're aware there may be HR-imposed limitations on what exactly they're able to tell you, etc.)

As for search committees simply *ignoring* a short-listed interviewee's follow-up altogether, that strikes me as really unkind. Even with HR-related-impositions, one would think there'd be *some* administratively-permissible way to acknowledge the message.

Martin Shuster

IMHO, I don't think anything good can come from writing an e-mail to the SCC, *unless* you have another offer in hand. At best, the SCC will write back to tell you that they have nothing to share (which is presumably why they have not shared anything). At worst, they'll be annoyed or worse (we do work in a field with, if I'm being frank, some very petty people).

While I have always aimed to be prompt in responding and not promising things I couldn't deliver when I have chaired a SC, sometimes these things are out of the SCC's control (e.g., Dean is unresponsive or disorganized or unreachable, HR is poor, other admin issues, or the SC can't agree for the moment, etc.)

Things change if you have an offer in hand since you both need to know and your inquiry may spur entities who are otherwise dragging their feet or behaving poorly (search committees or administrators).

In short, waiting--like so many things about the job search--is hard and terrible and difficult. Try to focus on something else ... I just do not see any advantage or positive result from writing; if they want you, they'll be in touch ASAP (nothing you say after the interview will change this basic fact).

Search committee member

Search committee member here—I didn't mind when people emailed me inquiring. We told them we would get back to them by a certain day and then did not. I understand that's lame and didn't mind at all getting emails inquiring. Maybe give a couple days grace period (like I wouldn't email March 1st if they said 'by the beginning of March'. That might appear a bit neurotic. Wait til March 4th, maybe).


I emailed two weeks and a half after an interview where I was told the committee would be in touch 'soon', never heard back - either about my follow up email, or about the job. I don't think that sending that email hurt my chances in any way. In line with the answer quoted above, I think you can at least get a sense of the professionalism of the institution/department.


Thank you! There are a lot of conflicting (but helpful) perspectives here! So, it sounds like whether it’s appropriate, acceptable, or worthwhile to follow-up (rather than damaging to one’s chances) may depend on the temperament of the SCC, the tone of the email and whether understanding of the SCC’s situation is adequately conveyed in the email, sufficient time has passed, along with other psychologically relevant factors (e.g., whether or not the SCC has had lunch yet when receiving the email… studies show that emails have a better response rate on Tuesdays between 8am-10am).

All of that considered, it seems best to just continue to wait patiently until one has an offer in hand and hope for the best… Or, I’ll try to send a well-crafted follow-up next Tuesday. ;)

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