Postdocs / Postdoctoral Selection Standards

Postdoctoral Selection Standards

APPIC Statement on Postdoctoral Selection:   

2022-2023 Postdoctoral Selection Cycle 
 

The APPIC Postdoctoral Committee and the APPIC Board of Directors believe that establishing overall organization and consistent selection processes are in the best interest of applicants, programs, and the larger postdoctoral community. While substantial progress has been made in building community among the diverse universe of postdoctoral programs, continued efforts toward creating a more cohesive and structured selection process are needed. Of note, there remains an increasing imbalance of postdoctoral positions relative to applicants, such that there are significantly more positions than applicants, leaving many positions unfilled annually. Given this current reality, any selection process will result in unfilled positions; while this is an undesirable outcome for a program, this is due to the imbalance, rather than an inherent problem with the selection process. Recent APPIC survey data indicate that the majority of applicants (92%) secure postdoctoral positions with their top-ranked (i.e., #1 or #2) programs. Despite this positive outcome for applicants, survey data has also highlighted limitations with the Uniform Notification Date (UND) system that cause stress for both programs and applicants. Consequently, APPIC will transition to the Postdoctoral Selection Standards and Common Hold Date (CHD) for the 2022-2023 postdoctoral selection cycle, following positive response from APPIC’s request for public comment. The Common Hold Date approach mirrors the widely-practiced graduate school admissions process. It allows postdoctoral programs to make offers at any time following the completion of interviews; applicants can then accept, decline, or hold an offer until the designated CHD of Monday, February 27, 2023. Consequently, as the offer and acceptance process naturally unfolds, it is expected that most offers and acceptances will occur prior to the CHD. 

APPIC strongly recommends member programs and clinically-focused programs follow the APPIC Postdoctoral Selection Standards and Common Hold Date.


The Postdoctoral Selection Standards and Common Hold Date are intended to:  

  1. allow for a more flexible and fluid process such that mutually beneficial program-applicant pairings can occur under less time-pressured circumstances, as compared with the UND,  
  2. allow for ongoing communication between applicants and programs throughout the selection process, 
  3. relieve the pressures and binds historically caused by short offer hold times that occurred with the UND, 
  4. offer applicants improved opportunity to make maximally informed decisions,  
  5. disrupt annual creep of early offers, given that making early offers does not significantly advantage programs,  
  6. continue to foster organization of the postdoctoral selection process.  

Outlined below are the Standards for clinically-focused Postdoctoral Programs and Applicants to follow for the 2022-2023 selection cycle. Clinical neuropsychology programs are not expected to follow the Standards and CHD. Programs that are predominantly research in emphasis are encouraged to follow them to the extent possible. 

APPIC has developed email templates to facilitate communication between programs and applicants. These are an optional resource that can be customized by programs and applicants. Hyperlinks to the relevant templates are embedded throughout the Standards and Recommendations below.    

 

APPIC Postdoctoral Selection Standards and Common Hold Date (CHD);

February 27, 2023 
 

Core Principles
 
For Programs Prior to the CHD For Applicants Prior to the CHD             For Programs and Applicants on the CHD
 Making Offers Acknowledging Receipt of Offers  Important Considerations
 Held Offers Accepting Offers  Acting on Previously Held Offers
 After an Offer has Been Accepted Holding Offers  Making Offers
 Program Re-Issuance of Offers                       Declining Offers  Acknowledging Receipt of Offers
Communication Communication  Accepting Offers
      Holding Offers
 Official Confirmation of Positions    Declining Offers and Program Re-Issuance
 Official Confirmation of Positions    

                              
Core Principles 

  1. The Standards help ensure that the national postdoctoral selection system unfolds fairly and fluidly; applicants and programs all have a part to play in facilitating an effective system.   
  2. Effective training is maximized in a context in which there is a mutually beneficial arrangement between the program and the applicant and when both parties feel that the selection process was professional and ethical.    
  3. Programs need to respect the interests of applicants and not create a context in which applicants feel unduly pressured to accept offers.   
  4. Programs that agree to abide by the Standards in their public materials and in their UPPD listing(s) agree to adhere to all of the components listed in the Standards.  

The Standards cannot fully address all situations that may arise throughout the postdoctoral selection process. It is expected that applicants and programs will use sound professional and ethical judgment in circumstances that are not specifically addressed by the Standards below. The APPIC Postdoctoral Committee and APPIC Board are available for consultation

 

Standards for Programs Prior to the CHD  
 

Making Offers  

  1. Programs can make offers to their top-ranked applicant(s) upon completing interviews and ranking all applicants for a position. Although the Standards intentionally do not define a date by which programs should make offers prior to the CHD, programs are encouraged to consider a reasonable offer window within a few weeks of the CHD (See Recommendations for guidance and FAQs for why a specific date is not defined). 
         Note: Programs are strongly discouraged from shifting their interview schedules to be significantly earlier or making very early offers. 
  2. Programs can only extend as many offers as they have available positions, at any time. 
  3. Though programs may contact applicants by phone to initially extend an offer, a written offer sent via email should immediately follow, including a statement that the offer can be held until 10:00 AM EST on the CHD and a request that the applicant confirms receipt of the offer via email (see Template - Making offers).  

Held Offers 

  1. Offers made to applicants are considered binding until 10:00 AM EST on the CHD of 2/27/23.   
  2. If an applicant does not communicate their acceptance or declination by 10:00 AM EST on the CHD of 2/27/23, the program can rescind the offer via email and follow the processes outlined below, “Declining Offers & Program Re-Issuance of Offers" starting at 10:30 AM EST on the CHD. 

After an Offer has been Accepted 

  1. Once an offer has been accepted, the program should immediately notify applicants with whom they have interviewed that the position for which they applied has been filled. For a program that offers multiple positions in a track, applicant notification should occur once all positions in that track are filled.   
  2. Once an offer has been accepted, it is considered binding to the extent that it is a professional commitment for the applicant and program; barring extreme and rare circumstances, reneging on an offer would likely result in negative consequences for the applicant, the program, and other applicants. 

Program Re-Issuance of Offers 

Upon receiving an applicant’s declination, the program can immediately extend the offer for that position to its next-ranked applicant, who can hold the offer until the CHD.  

Communication 

Programs may periodically check in with applicants who are holding offers to confirm intent to continue to hold or for updates on their decision-making process (see Templates – Program check-in), but should not: 
     - solicit ranking information from applicants, 
     - attempt to gauge the likelihood of an applicant accepting an offer prior to extending it,  
     - pressure an applicant to hasten their decision-making or accept an offer before the CHD. 


Standards for Applicants Prior to the CHD 
 

Acknowledging Receipt of Offers 

Applicants should acknowledge receipt of offers via email within 24 hours of receiving the offer, including if they choose to hold or decline the offer. Verbal acknowledgments should be followed with an email. Failure to do so could result in the program rescinding the offer and issuing it to another applicant. See Templates for responding to various offer scenarios. 
 

Accepting Offers 

  1. Applicants can accept a program’s offer at any point (i.e., if an applicant receives an offer from their top-ranked program, they should accept the offer promptly upon making that decision). Applicants should then immediately notify all programs for which they are still under consideration that they have accepted a position and are withdrawing from further consideration (see Template - Accepting an offer and Template – Withdrawing from consideration). 
  2. Once an offer has been accepted, it is considered binding to the extent that it is a professional commitment for the applicant and program; barring extreme and rare circumstances, reneging on an acceptance would likely result in negative consequences for the applicant, the program, and other applicants. 

Holding Offers

  1. Applicants can hold one offer at a time until 10:00 AM EST on the CHD of 2/27/23, regardless of when the offer was made, if the offer is not from their top-ranked program or they have not completed all of their interviews.  
          - Applicants can hold only one offer at a time.  
          - Applicants should communicate the intent to hold the offer to the program promptly and within 24 hours of receiving the offer
            (see Template – Holding an offer). 
          - Applicants should promptly withdraw from consideration from all other programs that are lower on their rank list than the offer being held
            (see Template – Withdrawing from consideration). 
  2. Applicants who are holding an offer are encouraged to update that program with any relevant developments about their decision-making timeframe during the hold period. Applicants should be aware that programs may also periodically check in with applicants who are holding offers to confirm intent to continue to hold or for updates on their decision-making process.  However, programs are not to pressure applicants to hasten their decision-making or accept the offer. Offers made to applicants are considered binding until 10:00 AM EST on the CHD of 2/27/23.  If an applicant does not communicate their acceptance or declination by 10:00 AM EST on the CHD of 2/27/23, the program can rescind the offer via email. 

Declining Offers 

An applicant can decline a program’s offer at any point after receiving it (see Template – Declining an offer).  

Communication

There may be scenarios in which applicants want to check in with higher-ranked programs about their status, particularly if they are holding an offer from a program that is not abiding by the Standards and CHD. Applicants holding an offer may reach out to higher-ranked programs to ask about their standing, when the program plans to extend offers, or where the program is in the offer process, but not to specifically to request an offer from the program (see Template – Checking in with a higher-ranked program)   and FAQs for additional information,


Standards for Programs and Applicants on the CHD (2/27/23)

 
Important Considerations on the CHD 

  1. Up to and on the CHD, programs can reach out to applicants who have not previously indicated they are withdrawing from consideration to confirm their continued interest (see Template – Checking in on applicant's continued interest), but as indicated above, they may not: 
         - solicit ranking information from applicants, 
         - attempt to gauge the likelihood of an applicant accepting an offer prior to extending it,
         - pressure an applicant to hasten their decision-making or accept an offer   
  2. Applicants who have not secured a position by the CHD need to ensure they are available to field and promptly acknowledge offers made on that date. Prior to the CHD, applicants should speak to their internship training directors about available flexibilities (e.g., rescheduling clinical care or taking professional leave) if needed on the CHD.  
  3. If an applicant who is holding an offer does not communicate their acceptance or declination by 10:00 AM EST on the CHD of 2/27/23, the program can rescind an offer via email communication (see Template – Rescinding an offer on CHD).  

Acting on Previously Held Offers on the CHD

  1. Applicants who have held an offer until the CHD must either accept or decline the offer no later than 10:00 AM EST on the CHD of 2/27/23 (see Template - Accepting an offer or Template – Declining an offer).
    Note: It is strongly recommended that applicants not wait until 10:00 AM EST to respond but rather respond as soon as they are able to make a decision.  
  2. If they wish, programs can allow applicants to continue to hold the offer after 10:00 AM EST on the CHD for whatever period the program chooses. 

Making Offers on the CHD

  1. On the CHD, a thirty-minute Ranking Reset Period occurs between 10:00 AM EST (the CHD deadline) and 10:30 AM EST. Programs should not initiate new offers during this thirty-minute Ranking Reset Period. The Ranking Reset Period provides applicants who accepted a position on the morning of the CHD the opportunity to notify programs of their withdrawals and provides training directors time to adjust their rank lists to contain only those applicants who remain available. See FAQs for a more detailed explanation of why this reset period is important. 
  2. New offers can be made on the CHD starting at 10:30 AM EST and can be held for two hours (see Templates - Making an offer). Programs may also decide to allow the applicant to hold an offer for longer than two hours.  

Acknowledging Receipt of Offers on the CHD

Applicants should acknowledge receipt of offers by responding through email or phone on the CHD within 30 minutes of receiving the offer even if they choose to hold the offer (for two hours, or longer if the program allows). Failure to do so could result in the program rescinding the offer (see Templates - rescinding offers).  

Accepting Offers on the CHD

  1. Applicants can accept a program’s offer at any point on the CHD, but must respond to the offer within the two-hour hold period (see Template - Accepting an offer). Applicants should immediately notify all programs for which they are still under consideration that they have accepted a position and are therefore withdrawing from further consideration (see Template – Withdrawal from consideration). 
  2. Once an offer has been accepted, programs should immediately notify all applicants remaining on their rank lists that the position for which they applied has been filled (see Template – Withdrawal from consideration). 
  3. Once an applicant has accepted an offer, it is considered binding to the extent that it is a professional commitment for the applicant and program; barring extreme and rare circumstances, reneging on an acceptance would likely result in negative consequences for the applicant, the program, and other applicants. 

Holding Offers on the CHD

  1. If applicants receive an offer on the CHD and the offer is not from their top-ranked program, the applicant can hold the offer for two hours. Applicants can hold only one offer at a time. Programs may choose to allow the applicant to hold the offer for longer than two hours. 
         - Applicants should promptly communicate (within 30 minutes) the intent to hold the offer to the program (see Template – Holding an offer).  
         - Applicants should promptly withdraw from consideration from all other programs that are lower on their rank list than the offer being held
            (see Template – Withdrawing from consideration).
  2. Applicants may reach out to higher-ranked programs to ask about their standing or where the program is in the offer process (see Template – Checking in with a higher-ranked program).    

Declining Offers & Program Re-Issuance of Offers on the CHD

  1. An applicant can decline a program’s offer at any point after receiving it (see Template - Decline an offer).   
  2. If an applicant declines a program's offer prior to 10 AM EST on the CHD, the program may immediately extend the offer for that position to its next-ranked applicant. In this circumstance, the new offer must be extended before 9:59 AM EST, prior to the start of the ranking reset period at 10 AM EST (see FAQs document for more details) 
  3. If an applicant declines a program’s offer during the Ranking Reset Period, the program must wait until 10:30 AM EST in order to initiate a new offer.  If an applicant declines a program’s offer following the ranking reset period (i.e., after 10:30 AM EST on the CHD), the program may immediately extend the offer for that position to its next-ranked applicant (see Template – Making an offer).  
  4. As offers are declined, programs may continue to extend offers for all remaining available positions.  Programs should allow applicants to hold offers made on the CHD for up to two hours (see Template – Making an offer). 
     

Official Confirmation of Positions 

Programs should email the applicant(s) who have accepted their offer(s) an official confirmation of their position within 48 hours of offer acceptance (see Template – Offer confirmation)
 


Recommendations for Postdoctoral Training Directors, Applicants, and Internship Training Directors 
 

  1. It is recommended that postdoctoral training directors, applicants and internship training directors proactively review all recommendations for all roles (see below) as well as all email Templates that have been developed to maximize successful navigation of the Postdoctoral Selection Standards and Common Hold Date (CHD).  
  2. The APPIC Postdoctoral Committee is developing resources that will help all stakeholders successfully navigate the postdoctoral selection process (e.g., Narrated PowerPoint, Webinars, FAQs, and Templates). Please check back here (link) frequently to review these resources as they will be continually updated in advance of the upcoming selection season. They will also be shared through the APPIC listserv – Postdoc-News. 

Recommendations for Postdoctoral Training Directors: 
 

  1. Establish an interview time frame that will allow you to make initial offers and allow the selection process to unfold in the few weeks prior to the CHD (i.e., interviews completed by around February 1st), but not significantly earlier. It is strongly recommended that programs refrain from shifting their interview schedules significantly earlier or making very early offers (i.e., more than 3 weeks in advance of the CHD). See FAQs.   
  2. Be explicit in public materials (e.g., websites, UPPD) and throughout the interview process about your program’s intention (or not) to follow the Postdoctoral Selection Standards and Common Hold Date (CHD). 
  3. Follow APPIC’s guidance on Virtual Interviews

Recommendations for Applicants: 
 

  1. Seek ongoing mentoring and guidance from your internship training director or other person(s) knowledgeable and up-to-date about the postdoctoral selection process.  Ensure that those from whom you seek guidance are informed about the APPIC Postdoctoral Selection Standards and CHD; this is particularly critical during this selection season due to the transition to the CHD process. 
  2. On interviews, inquire about whether programs are adhering to the APPIC Postdoctoral Selection Standards and CHD.  
  3. Be aware that timelines for offers from predominantly research-focused programs, neuropsychology programs, and clinically-focused programs may differ, particularly if programs are not participating in the CHD. If you are applying to programs that are not acting in accordance with the Standards, you may need to respond to an offer from a program prior to completing interviews or learning about your standing from other programs (see Templates – Offer from a program not following the standards). 
  4. Maintain an ongoing working list of your program rankings. Complete your final rank ordering of programs as soon as possible following interview completion, as you may begin receiving offers shortly after interviewing.   
  5. Ensure that you are available to check email and field offers throughout the postdoctoral selection process, as offers can expire if you do not acknowledge them within 24 hours. If you know that you may not have access to email or phone for longer than 24 hours, it is recommended that you communicate this to programs.   

Recommendations for Internship Program Training Directors: 
 

  1. Mentor your interns on navigating the postdoctoral selection process.  This will be particularly critical this selection season in light of the transition to the CHD; providing recommendations based on the former Uniform Notification Date process will be problematic and cause confusion and stress for your interns.  Informing other intern supervisors or other program mentors about changes to the selection process is also advisable. 
  2. Work with your interns to ensure that they are available to participate in postdoctoral interviews and to manage offers (e.g., professional leave allowances if available, rescheduling clinical care), particularly on the CHD if needed (i.e., if the intern has not accepted an offer prior to the CHD).  Note that offers made on the CHD are to be acknowledged within 30 minutes of receipt and may require a response within 2 hours.  

For Questions or Consultation 
 

Questions about the APPIC Postdoctoral Selection Standards and CHD or APPIC recommendations regarding recruitment and selection should be directed to Wayne Siegel, Ph.D., ABPP, the APPIC Postdoctoral Committee Chair (siegel@appic.org or 612-467-4024), the APPIC Postdoctoral Committee, or the APPIC Board of Directors.