Should companies reimburse candidates for travel expenses?

You’ve got the interview. The interview you’ve been waiting to hear back all week. The excitement and nerves are all slowly kicking into place, now all you have to do is figure out how to get there. You could drive, but that would be madness.The problem; you’re in another city and your interview is at 9am in London the day after tomorrow. Don’t panic. Keep telling yourself you will be able to sort this. You turn on your laptop, open up a new tab on Google and search for tickets on Thetrainline.com – up come the results. Sh*t. Look at the fares. It’s going to cost you more to get down there and back than your monthly Tesco run. What on earth are you going to do now?

It’s a question many candidates face when they get the interview for the job they want. Should companies reimburse candidates for travel expenses? 

I think they should.

Yes. I think a company should reimburse you if you’re travelling from a certain distance. If a candidate is attending an interview in say, London but they live in Manchester for example and their interview is scheduled for 9am, it will cost the candidate an average of £154 one way. Some employers can make it very difficult for candidates if they are far away. If they’re not willing to do a Skype interview, the chances of bagging a job is limited. I know it ranges from company to company, generally being the bigger the corporation the more likely they are flexible on their policies but I think this is a policy that all companies should have installed.

Usually the bigger organisations will be more open to honouring expense claims, especially when it comes to graduates – most graduates don’t have a spare couple of pounds, let alone hundreds of pounds, to spend attending interviews, while for the company, travel expenses could be a small price to pay if it means attracting the right calibre of candidate. Deloitte, for example, have a generous reimbursement scheme for graduates attending interviews, of up to £100 a time. The company says that interview times are flexible and candidates are given plenty of notice so they can arrange to have an interview when it’s a more convenient (read cheaper) time to travel.

‘But that doesn’t help me, if I’m no longer a graduate.’ 

Good point, I say. Jonathan Fagan, MD of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment says:

The standard practice regarding interview costs is for the candidate to bear them and it is increasingly rare for a firm to pay them. However if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

Some companies may very well consider it should you approach them regarding travel costs. High street chemist and British shop favourite Boots say, they will ‘take into consideration any significant travel costs of an interviewee with regards to reimbursement, if requested to do so.’ The BBC says that ‘the hiring department should offer reasonable travel expenses (in line with the BBC Expenses Policy) to employees invited to attend a selection process. External candidates may also be eligible to claim reasonable travel expenses, depending on individual circumstances. Payment is at the discretion of the hiring department and must be approved in advance’. British supermarket giant, Waitrose states: ‘Our policy on travel reimbursement varies across our business and we will always look to consider the individual concerns of each candidate when inviting them to interview. Where candidates are invited to a second interview, we will normally reimburse their travel costs’.

I asked the question across LinkedIn and Facebook and have had a fair bit of different views. One person on LinkedIn said:

No, I don’t think they should. I think the feeling of entitlement is a barrier to some candidates employment if anything. I would claim for expenses if I were doing something actively that has some sort of ROI for the company- Client entertainment, travelling to a meeting, etc.

If it were for a senior international role then I think there could be a degree of flexibility on this, especially as preliminary interviews would have been conducted through Skype etc.

Another said:

Interesting question. As a job seeker, I’d say absolutely! Of course, my answer might be a little biased. Some kind of reimbursement is okay depending on the situation and feasibility of it. In one of my previous job interviews, I had to park in a parking garage for about an hour. The company gave me parking validations so I wouldn’t have to pay out of pocket.

However, if you think about college and university applications, you don’t get reimbursed for the application fees even if you don’t get in. I’d think of it that way. It’s a sunk cost. Besides, you’re still gaining something from every interview you go on: experience.

What do you think…should companies reimburse candidates for travel expenses?

[Source: Jobsite]

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