where’s the travel reimbursement I was promised for interviewing?

A reader writes:

About a month ago, I was invited to a second round interview with a company in London. I asked them beforehand if they could reimburse my train fare, and they said they would certainly do so. We didn’t talk about how the reimbursement would be handled. I just assumed, perhaps naively, they’d let me know in due course how they would handle it.

The interview itself went ok, not my best but not a disaster either. I was told they’d get back to me within the week.

Immediately after the interview I sent thank you emails to both the HR manager and the hiring manager, but it’s now been a month and have received no reply or feedback so far. Luckily, I already have a job and don’t urgently need this one, but my main concern now is for my train fare reimbursement, as it was a very expensive ticket. However, they haven’t mentioned the reimbursement again and it’s been total radio silence since the interview.

How should I handle asking them to pay me back for the ticket, whether or not they decide to hire me?

Email the HR manager with a copy of the receipt for your ticket, with a note saying something like: “Before my recent interview, you told me that XYZ Company would reimburse the cost of my train ticket to the interview. I realized I haven’t received instructions for reimbursement, so I’m attaching the receipt here. Could you let me know your process for getting this reimbursed? I also want to thank you and (hiring manager’s name) again for your time; I enjoyed talking with you both and look forward to hearing back from you.”

So just simple and straightforward.

Two notes though:

1. One month is kind of a long time to wait before reaching out about this. I know you were waiting to hear from them, but ideally you would have asked closer to the interview. Since you didn’t, I included language saying “I realized I haven’t received instructions” to perhaps explain the delay. If you were sending this right after the interview, though, you could delete that part.

2. It’s important to specifically note that this reimbursement was discussed before the interview. If she’s forgotten (or didn’t know about it herself), you don’t want to sound like you’ve concluded you didn’t get hired and now are bitterly demanding reimbursement for your travel (like that candidate who sent a post-interview invoice).

Send this off and assume you’ll get reimbursed. If you don’t hear anything for 2-3 weeks, follow up again.

{ 17 comments… read them below }

  1. Elizabeth West*

    Ooh, ouch.

    If you ever find yourself in this situation again, I would definitely ask them about the process at the end of the interview, and put that in the thank-you email to clarify afterward.

    1. fposte*

      Yeah, I think this is one of those situations where it’s understandable to feel hesitant about bringing the subject up, but they actually would prefer that you’re direct and prompt about it.

  2. Mena*

    I did this, traveling from Boston to NYC for a day of interviews that were set up by a recruiter. I had to ask/remind a few times in follow-up but I did receive the reimbursement. Be sure to reference the person that made the commitment in your follow-up.

  3. Michele*

    When I was interviewing in NYC and flew out from Oregon. My travel reimbursement took about 8 weeks. I submitted my receipts the second I got home. So don’t be surprised if it takes them a while. It is a bummer but that is corporate for you!

  4. Jubilance*

    This happened in my last job – in my case I was offered and accepted the job with the company who didn’t get me my reimbursement. In my case, it got “lost” in their huge system and my boss had to resubmit it, but I did receive it. Sometimes with huge companies, you have layers of approval and one person can hang it up for a while.

  5. Vicki*

    I had an interview where the candidates were told to park in the nearby parking garage (2 hours maximum parking). If the interview went over two hours (it did), and the candidate got asn over-parking ticket (I did) they said “bring us the ticket and we’ll pay it.”

    Unfortunately, while they did pay it, they waited nearly a month to do so. In the meantime, a late fee was added to the amount. They paid the ticket but not the late fee.

    I eventually paid the late fee myself and was happy that I didn’t get an offer from that company. Their handling of the garage fees told me more about them than the interview had.

    1. Jessa*

      That’s pretty unreasonable of them. If they’re going to take their time paying something, they need to let you know so you can pay it and be reimbursed, rather than get a fee on it because they’re taking forever.

  6. OP*

    Hey everyone, OP here.
    Great advice from AAM as usual. I just sent the receipts to the HR guy with an email similar to the one suggested. Will let you know what happens!

    1. Anonymous*

      in a few days if no one responds, forward the email from the person that claimed that expenses would be paid to the HR person. I hadn’t heard back, but here is the communication I had with Joe stating that I would be reimbursed for travel.

  7. OP*

    Great news! I heard back from them right away, and the money has now arrived in my bank. Thanks Alison, you were a big help.

  8. steve b.*

    Hello there,
    If an applicant receives an email from the HR manager after 1st interview regarding travel/ parking expenses (<$100) instead of invitation for 2nd interview, does that mean he is out of the game (not getting hired) ?

  9. Tield*

    I am still waiting for the travel reimbursement for an interview I went to 3 months ago, and I have a letter saying that I was to be reimbursed and I have reminded them 5-10 times through phone calls or e-mails. The company is well-known and has 10,000+ employees. Anyone have any suggestions on how I could proceed?

    1. Tield*

      I should probably also mention that they have responded to my phone calls and e-mails saying “we are working on it”.

      1. Tield*

        I was able to solve my issue, and I was able to do so by posting a review on a well-known site on how my interview went and then commenting on the issues that I have had with getting my travel expenses reimbursed. No more than a week later I was contacted by a different department of the company that stated that there had been a “change in responsibilities” and that they would be handling the issue from that moment on. I had my travel reimbursement about 2-3 weeks later. So, hopefully this strategy might be of help to someone else.

  10. Amber C.*

    Hello! I’m currently in the job market and I received an interview that required a one way – 5 hour drive. They said that it would be no problem to reimburse the milage. I went to the interview, waited 2 weeks, and they informed me over the phone that I did not get the position. I immediately contacted the HR manager who made the promise for a reimbursement on next steps and she never got back to me. I followed up with a “check-in” email, every 3 business days. It has been 3 weeks and I have heard nothing. I am considering small claims court if this continues. Do any of you have advice on this matter? I’d really appreciate any suggestions you might have, especially if you are an HR personal.

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