Who Pays for the Travel Costs for a Job Interview?

Know who's paying for your flight long before boarding the airplane.
i NA/Photos.com/Getty Images

You've found your dream job and you've been offered an interview, but there's a catch -- it's more than just a short drive away, and you're not sure who'll be picking up the tab for your trip. During economic hard times, interview travel expenses are an easy thing to strike from a company’s budget, and some companies expect candidates to cover their own flights and hotel accommodations. Before you accept an invitation to interview, determine who will be footing the bill.

Find Out Who's Paying

    Some companies will discuss travel costs with you right away, while others will make no mention of the subject when inviting you to interview. According to U.S. News & World Report, it's reasonable for you to ask about travel costs and reimbursement if the company doesn't mention it upfront. While you might be disappointed if you're told that paying for an interviewee's expenses isn't part of the company's policy, it's better to know that you'll need to make accommodations to cover your trip sooner rather than later.

When the Company Pays

    Senior and specialized positions often involve serious recruiting on a company's part, and if you've caught the eye of hiring managers, they'll probably be willing to fly you in for an interview. If company officials tell you they'll either cover or reimburse your travel expenses, figure out who will be booking your flight and accommodations. The company might take care of everything for you, or you might be tasked with making the arrangements and then sending a bill. According to Law.com, companies often cap expenses for travel, will have a set amount of money they will pay and are firm in what they'll pay for. For example, companies will provide you with a fixed amount to cover airfare and hotel, but will not cover upgrades to first-class, room service or other luxury amenities not directly related to your travel for the interview.

When You Pay

    Always prepare for the possibility of paying for your own travel no matter what the situation. There are some cases where you'll definitely need to pay for your travel. If you are applying for an unsolicited opportunity with an out-of-state company, you likely will be covering all of your own expenses. When the company tells you that you must pay your own way, it is acceptable to ask how good your chances are of getting the job before making a decision to pay for the travel, according to U.S. News & World Report. After all, you probably don't want to waste your time and money to travel if your candidacy isn't very strong.

Alternatives to Travel

    If a company is truly interested in you but is unable or unwilling to pay for your travel expenses, you might find that hiring managers are open to completing a teleconference interview instead. Of course, you'll never know if you don't ask, so don't be afraid to politely offer this alternative. Tell the company that traveling is currently outside of your means, but you're highly interested in the job opportunity and that you would love to explore alternative ways to continue the interview process. Thanks to modern technology, interviewing across long distances has never been easier, and you might be able to convince a prospective employer to interview you by phone or video conference.

the nest