should an employer pay travel costs when inviting out-of-town candidates to interview?

by Ask a Manager on September 12, 2010

A reader writes:

I’ve been invited to an interview for a senior-level job by a potential employer who is only willing to cover part of my travel costs to the interview. Because the invitation was silent on this topic, I had to raise the reimbursement issue. I was surprised about this based on my prior experiences as a job seeker and on my own HR experience. Based on my application materials, it should have been clear that I would have to fly to the the interview.

I initially responded asking about whether they wanted me to make travel arrangements and submit receipts or have them make the airfare purchase directly. They responded that I should make arrangements directly, and that I should send them the cost so they could decide what portion they could cover. I submitted my projected costs and they replied that they could cover 60%. 

I’ve already accepted the appointment, since delaying to negotiate wouldn’t work in my favor as an applicant, and could make my share of the expenses go up if fares increase. But I’m concerned that if the interview goes well, it may spell trouble down the road. (E.g. have I put myself at a disadvantage during salary negotiations by signalling desperation? Once on the job, will I be working in an institution where reasonable expenses aren’t built into budgets?) Obviously, I haven’t gotten to that bridge yet, but these concerns are real. Is this a red flag, or just par for the course in an employers’ market?Here’s the deal with interview travel expenses:

When an employer has a ton of good local candidates, there’s no incentive for them to pay to bring in candidates from out-of-town. So if you want to be in the running, you may need to assume the cost of getting yourself there (and possibly of relocation too).

For instance, I recently hired for a position where I had two out-of-town candidates come in for interviews. I never even raised the issue of reimbursement and neither did they.  I simply said, “We’d love to interview you next week if you can get to D.C.”  It wasn’t a specialized job, I had more qualified local candidates than I could interview, and while I was happy to consider them as candidates, I didn’t have sufficient financial motivation to pay to do it.

Now, in other cases, where my candidate pool is more limited, I assume from the start that I’ll probably have to pay to bring in non-local candidates. It really comes down to the nature of the job and the depth of options facing the employer. Remember, this stuff is all business transactions.

All that said, if you do end up in a situation where you’d have to cover your own travel expenses, it’s completely reasonable to say something like, ‘I’m happy to cover my own expenses, but would it be possible for us to conduct a phone interview first to make sure that I’m a strong match?’ (They may say no, but you’re entitled to ask and you’re entitled to decline to fly out.)

It’s also reasonable to say, “I’m extremely interested in this job and happy to pay my own way out there if you think I’m likely to be a strong match. However, given that money is tight for everyone right now, could you give me an idea of how strong a candidate you think I am?”  Their answer may help you decide, since there’s a big difference between “you’re our leading candidate” and “we’re interviewing six people and you’re all about evenly qualified” in terms of the risk you’re paying for.

So, back to your questions — have you put yourself at a disadvantage during salary negotiations by signaling desperation? No, I don’t think that flying yourself out signals desperation. You’ve simply signaled that you’re interested in the job, which you’d also signal by, you know, applying and interviewing. (I hope you’ve first ascertained that the salary is in a range you’d accept though — you don’t want to fly yourself out and then discover later on that you’re wildly out of their price range.)

And once on the job, would you be working somewhere without reasonable expenses built into budgets? Again, I don’t see reason to assume that, for the reasons I explained above. But if given a job offer, you could certainly ask about budgets and resources.

Ultimately, travel expenses are — in many but not all cases — one of the many casualties of this bad job market. If you want a job outside of your local area, the large number of candidates competing with you means that there’s a good chance the employer isn’t going to be motivated to cover your costs.

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{ 42 comments }

Anonymous September 12, 2010 at 7:46 pm

and tax deductible.
But its a sad statement about a company who invites a candidate and won't pay.
Fact is, I wouldn't bother with the interview, desperate or not.

Which reminds me of an interview I had a few years ago. I was invited to an interview, they offered to pay. Sounded good.

After 4 months of game playing with the HR clerks, they denied reimbursement.

HR claimed I had no written confirmation of the reimbursement and that its not their policy to reimburse. True, I only had the Directors verbal ok. The HR Dir. wouldn't answer my emails or calls.

Eventually I wrote the CEO. They paid.

Oh, it never went to a 2nd interview – neither had interest.

Interviewer September 12, 2010 at 7:49 pm

My company hasn't paid for travel expenses for out of town candidates in a long time. About 2 years ago, I had one ask if she could be reimbursed for mileage, and the answer was no. The rest have all offered to come to town, at their own expense, to interview with us. We do extensive phone screening with HR and the hiring managers to ensure up front that it would be a good use of everyone's time and money.

In this economy, local candidates are plentiful, and out of town candidates are all assuming the cost of travel. You must have something appealing in your experience if they want to pay for some of the expenses. I would confirm that up front with the phone interview.

But I wouldn't make assumptions about the company's financial resources or budgeting policies based on their unwillingness to cover more of these expenses. We are doing well, and just being cautious about going overboard to recruit out of town. If we don't have to spend that kind of money to attract candidates, why do it?

Ask a Manager September 12, 2010 at 7:55 pm

But Anonymous 3:46, why do you think it reflects badly on the company? If they have plentiful great candidates who are local, and if they'd be perfectly happy to focus on those, what's the sense of paying to bring in additional candidates? Shouldn't they still be able to invite non-locals to participate, on the understanding that those non-locals will say no if they'd rather not incur the travel expense?

As Interviewer wrote, "If we don't have to spend that kind of money to attract candidates, why do it?" That's a genuine question I'm throwing back your way — why should they, and why does it reflect badly on them if they don't?

There are a lot of out-of-town candidates who would actually like to be given the chance to be considered, even if it means paying to get themselves there. (I know, because many of them write to me asking how to get long-distance employers to consider them!)

Anonymous September 12, 2010 at 8:27 pm

While it would be a plus if the company offered to pay at least my flight expense, it doesn't seem to something an interviewee should expect. After all, you don't see them giving you a reimbursement check for the gas you use to get there if you are a local.

My thinking: Why would a candidate apply to a company they would have to fly to for an interview if they didn't want to chance paying 100% of the cost? You should know where the company is located when you apply.

Anonymous September 12, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Anon 3:36 here.

Allow me to go a bit off track in my response.

Why in the first place invite someone from afar when locals fit the bill? Go figure. My opinion HR
is a bastion of clerical pettiness. My opinion.

It reflects badly because at that stage, if the company did their pre-screening effectively, yet decided the candidate from out of town is worth pursuing, then show the person professional respect.

To "play games" about $250 or maybe $500 tells the candidate they're perhaps dealing with a company mentality that doesn't respect you as a professional and is willing to treat you like a commodity. Do you feel like a commodity? Surely you find that personally offensive.

Taking advantage of someone for the sake of saving a few bucks is indicative of the prevalent attitude inherent in corporate HR departments. Which I might add, your blog constantly confirms.

Treat people the way you expect to be treated.

What's a few bucks to make a good impression? The payoff could be more than you expect.

Jojominica September 12, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Anonymous right above me, all too many employers just don't consider non-local applicants at all. As an applicant who is aggressively trying to move to a different state right now and is finding employers hesitant to even look at me because I'm not local, I would MUCH RATHER an employer treat me like a local candidate and let me pay my own way than just not consider me at all just because they don't want the expense. I will gladly get myself out there for an interview at my own expense. If someone else feels differently, let them turn the interview invitation down.

(And I can not imagine what you think AAM's blog "constantly confirms". She always stands out to me as much more compassionate and reasonable than what I'm used to finding.)

Rachel - former HR blogger September 12, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Here's an important lesson: Don't apply for out of town jobs if you're not willing to pay full price to get to the interview. If the job isn't that important to you, then why should you be that important to the company?

Unless it's a very high level position (as in the highest 8 positions), my company (a NP) will not provide travel expenses. That said, we have worked with candidates before and done interviewing via Skype to save them the cost of coming for a first level interview even when they've been more than willing to pay.

Anonymous September 13, 2010 at 12:48 am

Rachel – That's interesting that you brought up Skype. How willing are companies to use a video-phone such as Skype to conduct a first interview? I understand it doesn't replace the true face-to-face, letting the candidate see the workplace, etc., but in this day in age, it could help at an early stage I'd think.

GeekChic September 13, 2010 at 1:43 am

The original poster said this was a senior level position – I'd be very skeptical of paying my own way at that level. And, indeed, I've never paid to travel for interviews at that level (had over 10 out-of-country interviews at that level).

That said, all of those positions had phone interviews first as a cut-down phase. One position was phone interview only!

For lower-level jobs I did pay my own way to interviews and I think that should be expected.

Anonymous September 13, 2010 at 5:14 am

First, thanks to the blog host for providing a thoughtful answer to my question, and to those who responded with their input. It seems like the split we see here may have as much to do with expectations in different sectors as with the difficult job market. Since I'm most familiar with academic job searches, where candidates' resources tend to be very scarce, my expectations may have been too high. Either way, hearing that this employer isn't out of bounds will help me keep my game face on for the interview. So thanks!!!

Anonymous September 13, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Count me as another who would be happy to pay my way to an out-of-town interview. I've been searching for years (yes, years) now for a job out of my local area and I have yet to even get an interview. Talk about frustrating! Why do more employers not Skype?

So yeah, I'd jump at any chance to interview for a job I applied for in hopes I could actually start moving forward in my career again rather than stagnating in a boring job in an area where there's nowhere else to go.

Rebecca September 13, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Re: Skype — I did know one manager at one company who was happy to interview people over Skype because it was fast: call somebody on Monday, interview them on Tuesday. Caveat — same boss had HIGH turnover because she was insane, so she frequently needed to hire someone ASAP.

Why don't more people use Skype for interviews? Probably because most people think one or more of these things:

1. Internet = Unprofessional
2. I dunno, I don't understand how to use those FaceSpace YouBook thingies…
3. The internet is a series of tubes, if the candidate can come down the tubes why can't they just fly or drive here?

Anonymous September 13, 2010 at 3:41 pm

As a recruiter, I used to use Skpe all the time. In my last job, I worked for a Non Profit in the medical field. We needed bilingual professionals with masters degrees that focus on providing culturally sensitive service. There are very few professionals in my state with these qualifications and we generally fought with other NPs for these candidates. To get ahead, I helped our NP develop relationships with schools out of state. Our budget couldn't afford flying people in for the interview or relocation for that matter. The managers I supported hated computers and definitely didn't feel comfortable with skype. To faciliate the process, I made it my job to set up all the equipment in the conference room and help the managers use skype to interview candidates. I sat in the back of the room for the first few interviews until the managers got comfortable with the technology. We actually did the entire hiring process using skpe and online tools. The managers never physically met these candidates until their first day on the job. These candidates generally stayed with us much longer then the local candidates. Skpe is a great tool that gives us a competitive edge. Our ability to provide more bilingual staff then other NPs allowed us to get more grant monies. In this horrible economy we have actually been able to expand our services.

Jamie September 13, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Rebecca – #3 is awesome…and sadly for some people not too far from how they think it works.

I like the idea of using Skype to interview before anyone, company or candidate, shells out money for travel.

After I typed that I had a bad flashback to setting up remote workers with Skype. So seemingly simple yet the process became akin to performing neurosurgery while blindfolded.

On second thought, still a great idea with one caveat: Don't make your IT department deal with the candidates technical issues.

At least not without a big raise and some complimentary medication.

Kat September 13, 2010 at 10:51 pm

Like no! If the jobseeker intentionally applies for a job out of town, then they should assume the travelling cost. They should be grateful that the employer is willing to set time aside for an interview with someone from out of town.

Anonymous September 14, 2010 at 3:02 am

Rebecca –

While you need an internet connection to use Skype, you do not need your internet browser to be open. The interviewer would probably request a video conference call which would require the interviewee to be as professional as if they were in the same room. For skype, all you need is to have the software downloaded (free!), a microphone, and (sometimes) a webcam. It only costs money if you use Skype to call an actual phone number, but if the other person has Skype and is online, then it's free.

Skype is not that difficult to use. It's basically a digital phone without the dialing (if the other person has Skype). If you know how to use a real phone, then you probably can figure out Skype. Facebook and Myspace "thingies" aren't required. The most you have to do is add the other person to your contact list before you can call them.

The internet is a bunch of tubes? Sounds like an old television to me! It's probably wise not to use it as the second interview, but it can be used early on in screening.

Anonymous September 14, 2010 at 3:18 am

First of all – let's please stop using the catch phrase "this economy" to talk about how employers don't want to pay for an out-of-state candidate to interview face-to-face. The reality is that companies will pay for what they really want.

And you are right to hear alarm bells going off – if they won't pay for the flight out, what else won't they pay for; professional development, seminars, etc.

Out of State searcher September 14, 2010 at 10:40 pm

I was an out of state job seeker who recently found employment. I posted about my journey in detail on one of AAM'solder posts but to sum it up, I paid for all my travel. I added it in as a part of my moving budget and had I not paid for it I don't think I'd have an offer letter in hand because not a single employer offered to pay.

The only thing is you need to apply for really good opportunities that a. you really want and b. pay well enough to make up for the upfront expense of you having to pay.

I would not pay to travel for "any old job" but in my case I only applied for jobs that I really wanted so when I started getting interview calls I was more than happy to pay to get there.. Airfare Watchdog helped a lot with finding cheap fares.

Anonymous September 16, 2010 at 6:48 pm

I have to agree with Anon 3:46. I interviewed with a company out of state through a recruiter. They offered to pay for my flight but no other expenses. In my opinion, I should bear $0 cost. Then they invited my husband too "so he could have a look around town" but refused to pay his way. I guess they decided we needed a vacation.

An employer has got to impress me just like I need to impress them. If they are not willing to pay for my travel (and an invited guest), then I don't go there. And I never did go on that interview! Hah!

Anonymous September 16, 2010 at 10:15 pm

anon at 2:48

why would they pay for your husband? There isn't a business reason/benefit for your husband to go. Perhaps they were making a bit of small talk and thought the city they are part of is worth touring.. and if you are going to visit, you should bring your husband too. Unless they said, "we would like your husband to be here while you are being interviewed." then don't expect anything.

Why would people say that if a company doesn't reimburse you for your travels to an interview, they probably won't pay for seminars and professional dev when you are an employee?
A huge difference is in one scenario you got an employee, and in the other, you don't. Expecting that a non-employee should be treated like a employee is asking for too much in my opinion. In any case, if you do get an offer, then you can ask about their employee reimbursement policies.

Bisty September 17, 2010 at 4:46 pm

I wouldn't take a job where they won't pay for an onsite interview.

Realistically, the only thing an onsite adds above phone interviews is the potential for the employer to get rid of you because you're too old or too fat or too female. If they insist on an onsite before starting, then they should pay for it – period.

Ask a Manager September 17, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Bisty, I think it's completely legitimate to decide you won't pay to travel to interviews (although know that you may not get many out-of-town interviews though; that's the trade-off). But I disagree that in-person interviews don't have value. I've frequently learned things about a candidate (good and bad) that I hadn't picked up in the phone interview. And those things weren't related to weight or age or appearance, but rather interpersonal skills, etc.

Anonymous March 13, 2011 at 6:20 pm

To add to last comment on onsite interviews, they also allow for technical type interviews/questions like programming or demonstrations, things that are harder to do over phone, or even Skype. Though I did have a Google tech interview using Google Docs for demos together with the phone interview, and I was a local candidate.

Jesse September 27, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I wonder what ended up happening with the candidate. Did he/she travel? Did he/she get the job?

THE REAL DEAL October 5, 2011 at 4:32 pm

If the position is specialized or Mid Level Management then the company should always pay. Refusal to do so reflects bad on the company ,fair pay and advancement with adjusted pay scale. SCRATCH THE INTERVIEW THEY ARE BUMS

GOOD COMPANIES PAY! March 13, 2012 at 7:38 pm

2012 now and still an issue.
I have been on several out of town interviews. I paid on two occasions and regretted it and advise against this. However, I also have had my travel expenses (plane, hotel, car rental, meals) paid for by employers and the employers who pay are really good companies who truly value employees. If a company nickels and dimes you about travel costs before you’re hired. Be warned! Better for them to say that they aren’t willing to pay if they are in a major market where competition is already stiff.

DJ June 23, 2012 at 3:21 am

If an employer WANTS to interview a candidate from out of town because they may have unique skills or qualifications that have been identified in a pre-screening interview, then they should pay.

The cost of an interview is tiny for most companies, but a far larger commitment for an individual. The cost of interviewing is a cost of staffing.

In a troubled economy, there are a lot of desperate job-seekers out there. Sadly, too many HR departments start acting extremely self-important whenever unemployment is high, as though having a job at their company is a privilege rather than a two-way business arrangement that typically creates more profit for the company than for the employee.

Not paying simply says to candidates “you take all the risk, and we’ll see if we can benefit from a relationship.” That is an extremely unprofessional attitude to take in recruiting at a professional level, and job seekers should think twice about interviewing with companies with that attitude. It will show up after you take the job in other ways.

Mrs Berry November 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Is it mandatory for companies to pay for your room when working out of town for them?

Ask a Manager November 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm

There’s no law requiring it, but any reasonable company would cover expenses that are only incurred because of work.

Mike December 19, 2012 at 10:41 am

If the employer is not willing to pay all reasonable costs then do not even consider the interview. In fact, hang up the phone abruptly!

If the firm is seeking non local candidates then they cannot find local talent. Positions that require relcations are also more likely to be upper level positions.

The cost of your hire might be 100-200k per year on the lower end. For that money the employer is expecting the candidate to generate revenue in one way or another far exceeding their cost. Furthermore the successful candidate might work there for 3 years or more.

Airfare plus a discount but clean hotel room might run the company 500-600 per client. Even if they bring in 3 or 4 out of town clients they might be out 1 week of the new hires base compensation. That does not even consider the costs to HR for bringing a new hire on.
That is nothing.

In short, unless the candidate is expecting first class airfare and a room at a 5 star hotel (plus room service and a mini bar) paid at the hiring firm’s expense don’t waste your time unless they are picking up the tab.

Another way the job seeker should look at it: If they are not willing to drop a couple of hundred bucks to interview a good fit for the job what are the chances they will compensate accordingly going forward?

Tony F March 29, 2013 at 10:33 am

There is no such thing who has to pay for the travel expense. Market says everything. If you are the top candidate and the employer wants you the most, they will pay for everything. If you are so desperate as a candidate and want the job so badly, you will not dare to ask for the reimbursement. Each side has the right to say no. Each party is entitled to reject the request. MARKET is the key. So if you are not getting any offer for the travel reimbursement, you just need to improve your skill and background until someday you are the one nobody can compete with. PERIOD.

MB April 1, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Please help: How about employees that don’t pay you FIRST any travel costs plus they also expect you to do a 4-8 weeks training on-site without paying you a dime. They just offer you an accommodation during the training. They say after training you will be working as a contractor for another company. Then you will be reimbursed….

Anonymous April 3, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Hi. I’m a freelance who was just recently offered a project in another country. I would do the job from home, but they invited me over to meet the team. They’re only willing to pay for the flight, and since they say I would return on the same day, they would not pay for other expenses (taxi to & from airport, meals). Since everything in that country costs significantly higher than in mine, is it reasonable to ask them to cover at least ground transport?

Rachel June 28, 2013 at 7:42 pm

I guess it’s late in the day for you now. But my advice for anyone else in a similar situation is: just say “no”. If the employer doesn’t even have the class to pay for travel costs for an international interview, then I smell trouble for how difficult it will be for you to pursue payment for the actual work you would be doing. And you don’t travel there and back on the same day when a flight is involved. Ever. Trust me on this. I once wasted a whole day getting messed around and diverted when I should have been attending an interview in London (travelling from Glasgow). In the end, I literally just got to land in London at 5pm after being diverted all day (flight was at 8am!), and had to walk out the departure gate straight on to a return flight to Glasgow, without even so much as leaving the airport building. I got the job in the end, when I eventually made it down during a better-planned trip a few weeks later that involved traveling down the evening before my interview and spending the night, but it could have cost me a job I wanted. And all because I failed to allow for unexpected delays in my planning, because it should theoretically only have been a short flight.

Mike April 3, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Simple question to the responder based on this quote:

“When an employer has a ton of good local candidates, there’s no incentive for them to pay to bring in candidates from out-of-town. So if you want to be in the running, you may need to assume the cost of getting yourself there (and possibly of relocation too).”

Why in the name of all that is holy would you bring candidates in from out of town if you have plenty of local candidates? That doesn’t make any sense.

That’s ok….wait! It may be next year, it may be next decade, but eventually loose job markets tighten up. When that happens you will be sending candidates first class tickets and renting them suites. At that time you can console yourself with the memories of making job candidates jump through hoops like trained seals at their own expense.

Anonymous June 1, 2013 at 4:50 pm

100% concur with Mike’s comment above, and above again.

Of course a company should pay if they bring someone in! The “we have enough local candidates” is a mealy mouthed response at best. If a company has enough high calibre “in town” candidates then don’t invite “non-locals” to physically attend.

If you really like the look of the non-local candidate, and don’t want to disadvantage them because they are out of town, then either pay their expenses, or set up an alternative way of interviewing them – such as via Skype. If a company doesn’t think you are worth a plane ticket and a hotel room for the night, then they are not worth a minute of your time.

And as for the partial, or non-reimbursement stories – not just shoddy, but unethical.

R June 28, 2013 at 7:32 pm

I have this situation next week. (Although a slight difference from my situation and the specific situation described above is that the company concerned in my case have *not* had success sourcing local candidates, hence their having cast the net further. They’re looking to set up an office in my local area to compensate for the lack of local talent, but my face-to-face interview for the role will still take place at their existing HQ). In my situation, I’d never dream of making a substantial trip (300+ miles in this case) unless I were reimbursed for my trouble. It’s not about the money. It is about the fact that people tend to only value those things that they pay a fair price for. If I’m taking 6+ hours out of my day to make a road trip to see someone in person at their convenience because Skype video Just Won’t Do for some reason, then I expect them to show me they value my effort by paying for the travel costs incurred.

Carol July 13, 2013 at 7:27 am

I am reading this post with great interest as I observe the process that my recent college graduate daughter is experiencing as she job hunts. Good job market or not, if a position needs to be filled and the company is so narrow-minded that it feels compelled to stay local, then stay away, you do not want to work for that company (at least not for the long term).
There are many valid points made for both reimbursement and not, but the bottom line is how the employer treats the perspective employee during the interview process. Academia and other non-profits have lower budgets and generally offer lower salaries. It is extremely poor taste to invite candidates, not reimburse any part of the travel expenses, keep the candidate for a few hours and then release them with not so much as an offer of a refreshment (as the candidate is sent on her way). You invite someone to your house and common courtesy is to offer them a beverage and/or snack of some sort. Interviewing is an invitation to the ‘home’ of the business. Is this how they treat their guests? Might it not reflect how they will treat their own once hired?
My ‘old school’ view is , “yes,” but it appears, judging from some the above responses, limited resources budgeted for new hires does not necessarily translate to limited employee benefits. It would be wise for job seekers, especially the newcomers, to include questions about benefits and expectations regarding reimbursements for employee expenses.

Stevie August 31, 2013 at 11:20 pm

There is nothing new about this. More often than not, during the 1980s and 1990s I had to pay my own travel expenses to out of town interviews. When unemployed, time wasn’t a problem, but of course money was. The companies were fully aware I was not local and out of work, yet typically offered no reimbursement, and I was too afraid to ask. Since this was for technical work at presumably prosperous high tech companies, I was appalled at the chintzy treatment. So I’m not at all surprised this still happens.

Incidentally, none of the chintzy outfits made an offer. Those that did paid my interview expenses and relocation. I frequently got the impression the chintzy outfits were just fishing. In general, I regret wasting resources on these self-paid interviews, and would be quite reluctant to do this sort of interview now. I figure if they aren’t willing to pay, you aren’t a serious candidate, and would be fighting very slim odds, especially these days.

clow November 7, 2013 at 8:42 pm

I have never paid myself for an out of state interview. I have been burned before by companies, where they selected an internal employee, after on site interview. It shows the real interest level of the company, if they pay for the interview. I had one company pay for my interview and verbally offer the position to me the next day. And one day after the the offer, they completely retracted…I will never pay myself for interview costs, since I can never tell if the company will go internal or has 10 other people…

John Doe December 16, 2013 at 8:41 am

There should be salary clarifications on these posts for readers to understand. All of the posts are correct, depending on the salary/role. If you are making sub-$50K in a run of the mill job, then you will have to come out of pocket. Once you cross the $100K mark, the candidate selection goes nationally and internationally (depending on role and money involved).

I have earned between $125K to $200K for the past 15 years and was always hired based solely on phone interviews and skype. If a company wanted an in person, it was not for technical/skills reasons and would be at their expense. In person final interviews are for them to “look” for physical and mental defects… too gay, too lesbian, too fat, too few teeth, too Republican/Democrat, etc etc. Again, if you have advanced through phone interviews, skype, etc. then the in person interviews are never technical and never actually about the job.

Your best gauge of a company is always in the initial phases. Travel for the job should always be covered, e-ticket sent in e-mail, hotel information in e-mail, etc etc. Fedex packages also work. Companies that want a happy employee roll out the red carpet in the beginning. They may dump all over you after, but like any bad relationship… they start out great.

If you are dealing with a company that is grinding over $1000 in travel for the final interview… walk away.

None of the above applies to relocation. If you are a non-local candidate you should make it clear you will be covering your relocation. Even the most generous of companies with salary and travel expenses will not cover relocation. At the $100k+ range, you shouldn’t be begging for relocation unless it is outright offered.

ffool December 18, 2013 at 11:34 am

kinda ambivalent about this as things arent always quite what it seems. Had a situation where I was under consideration from 2 employers. One flew me in a put me up in a great hotel but turned out to have a lot of red flags (partners openly fighting). The other was too cheap to fly me in despite being a major corp and instead waited to piggy back on someone else’s interview.

the company which was too cheap ended up making me a great offer and I ended up working for them. I’m still friends with the vp who brought me on, but ended up getting forced out by my immediate supervisor who had wanted to give the job to one of his friends. Now I finally understand why they didn’t fly me out since the supervisor must have been reluctant all along.

morale of the story? not being flown out is a red flag, but being flown out is no guarantee either.

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