Travel expenses for a job interview : 3 things to know
You’ve landed a great job interview, but it’s in another city! You might be just out of university or simply keeping an eye on your outgoings and the travel costs of getting to the interview may be enough to make you think twice. Occasionally, a company will make it clear in their pre-interview documentation that they will cover candidates’ travel expenses. These expenses can include accommodation, transport, food and drink. Here is an overview of how to go about asking for reimbursement of travel costs.
Where do you need to go and how will you get there?
The job interview may be in another part of town, in which case you may be able to walk or get inexpensive public transport. In this case, the costs of getting to the interview are probably similar to the everyday costs of commuting to work and are unlikely to be borne by the potential employer.
However, the job interview may be in another city that is several hours away. Depending on the time the interview is scheduled and relevant transport timetables, you may find you need hotel accommodation and meals in order to attend the interview.
Even when the interview is in another city, there are lots of different ways to get to your destination. Cities are generally well served by good, inexpensive public transport networks (train, bus, tram). You may also be able to use your own car or have a friend drive you to the interview. Sometimes, a domestic flight may be the cheapest form of transport.
If you are intending on asking for your travel expenses to be reimbursed, you should probably consider the most cost-effective way of getting to the interview. The company may look more sympathetically upon a request for an economy-class train ticket or bus ticket than the cost of a first-class flight and taxi!
In some cases, the company themselves will organise the travel, as they may have competitive deals with partnering travel firms and hotels. So, make sure to check before booking any transport or accommodation.
Should I ask for my travel expenses to be reimbursed?
First things first, you need to find out what the company’s policy is regarding travel expenses and the level they will cover. Check all written correspondence from the company, including emails, to see whether travel costs have been mentioned. Read through the job description or application documents as well as any information online about the job. Try a simple online search to see if anyone has ever mentioned the company and travel expenses.
You may already know the answer to your question after doing this preliminary research. If you decide you can’t afford to travel for the interview, get in touch with your contact person at the company and explain your situation. You may want to look at some of the alternatives we mention in the chapter below.
If the company does not seem to have a clear policy, or if the subject has never been mentioned, you should probably approach the company to ask whether your travel expenses will be covered.
How can I ask for my travel expenses to be reimbursed?
The best way to do this is to contact the person who has been in touch with you to arrange the interview. This is likely to be someone from the human resources department.
Write an email
Compose a polite, professional email. Draft a concise subject line, such as “Request for information on travel expenses”. Start with “Dear Ms/Mr …” if you have the name of the individual. If you are addressing a generic email address, use “To Whom It May Concern”, or research the company’s HR department online to find an appropriate individual.
Keep your email short and to the point. Introduce yourself by your full name and mention the specific job title and date of the interview. Use a neutral, clear phrase such as “I am writing to inquire about your company’s policy regarding travel costs for attending an interview”.
Finally, make sure to end your email with your full name and contact details (including a phone number). You may also choose to end on a positive note, saying how keen you are to meet with them.
Phone the company
If you prefer to call the company, make sure you are in a quiet place where you are unlikely to be disturbed by background noise or unprofessional interruptions. Prepare what you are going to say beforehand.
Introduce yourself, using your full name and say that you have an upcoming interview for a specific position. Ask to be put through to someone who deals with the company’s travel expenses policy.
Stay polite and professional at all times, even if the answer is a clear no. Thank them for their time and give yourself time to think it over before taking the next step.
Alternatives to claiming back travel expenses
If the company refuses to cover travel expenses for your job interview, you need to think carefully about your alternatives. Covering your own transport costs may be a good investment if you are likely to get the job of your dreams, especially if you are just out of university! However, if it is a real sticking point, it might be worth asking the company if they will consider alternative interview methods.
Since COVID-19, we have all become more accustomed to using video conferencing and the phone to conclude business arrangements that would previously have been conducted face-to-face. A job interview is no different! Don’t hesitate to ask whether it would be possible to conduct the job interview by video or over the phone.
If your request is accepted, make sure you are prepared for the interview with a stable internet connection, a professional background (plain or office-like), and make sure that you are in appropriate business dress, as if you were attending the interview in person.
Would you like to know more about how we could help you keep track of travel expenses and refunds? Want to know how to incorporate meal allowances and other expenses arising from a job interview?
Get in touch with Mooncard for a free demo and a no-obligation chat about how we could help.