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I interviewed for a company. They liked me, I liked the company. The HR was really friendly and helpful. When they got to know about me coming by a bus ( since I do not have a car) from a different city, the hiring manager/ HR offered to provide the compensation for my travel and food

(This was a special case, as they had written explicitly in the advertisement, that they do not provide compensation for the interview expense).

I guess the manager felt bad for me or he liked me very much and wanted me to join them, that is why he created an exception to provide the travel expense.

Now, I feeling serious stress, as I feel bad to decline the job offer (as I got another). Adding to my stress, they sent me a check for interview expenses.

How should I decide whether it is appropriate to cash the check? Because I am declining their offer it feels a little weird to me.

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Hi San, welcome to The Workplace. I modified your question slightly to make it more of a workplace/interview question and a bit less "what should I do!" –  enderland Mar 7 at 21:21
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If they didn't feel it was appropriate for you to cash the cheque, they wouldn't have sent it. –  David Richerby Mar 7 at 23:34
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Get over it - this is business - you're not going out on a date with these people, and it really doesn't matter what they think of you. They offered to pay for your bus fare. That's really nice. They sent you the check. That's really nice. You got a better/more desirable offer. That's fan-dam-tastic! Cash the check, take the better offer, and turn down the one you don't want. And move on. (If you don't cash the check it'll keep their accountants up late trying to figure out what's "wrong" with their books. Really, you're doing them a favor... :-). –  Bob Jarvis Mar 9 at 2:41
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@QuoraFeans It's the same thing in France, companies don't pay anything for interviews. In Germany, a country about the same size, companies almost always cover the costs (and are also more pleasant to deal with in other ways, as a candidate). It's mostly down to what they are used to/what they can get away with, not so much the size of the country. –  Relaxed Mar 9 at 20:25

5 Answers 5

up vote 27 down vote accepted

How should I decide whether it is appropriate to cash the check? Because I am declining their offer it feels a little weird to me.

Companies have people out for interviews all the time. Very often this is many thousands of dollars.

It is simply expensive to hire new employees. This figure from here shows some estimates for cost of replacement vs annual salary:

enter image description here

To you, this check is a lot of money. To the company/person sending it, it's part of business and a fairly trivial amount of money.

If you look at the above chart, you'll realize the amount you got sent is a fraction what the company likely spent on the whole process.


Last, realize this happens frequently in the world. People are offered interviews and reimbursed and turn companies down often.

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@san1646 great! You might enjoy reading this article too, it does a good job putting things in perspective about how differently we view money/salary as compared to managers, etc. It's specifically about negotiation but has a lot of perspective on this issue. –  enderland Mar 7 at 21:24
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That is an eye opener for me :) I think I was being very naive when I wrote this question. –  san1646 Mar 7 at 21:49
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This! I was once flown from Sydney to Zurich (and back :) for two days of interviews at their expense, only to turn the job down. That stuff happens. –  Mσᶎ Mar 7 at 22:07

How should I decide whether it is appropriate to cash the check? Because I am declining their offer it feels a little weird to me.

Remember that the check is simply reimbursement for your interviewing expenses.

It's not a down payment on your first week of work. It's not a sign-on bonus.

Cash the check. Send your regrets about declining the position. Stop feeling weird.

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Simple: you had an agreement that they would pay for any interview expenses. They don't have any right to renege on the agreement, and you don't have an obligation to take the job. They went into the deal with their eyes open that you might not take the job.

The only situation where it would be unethical to cash the check is if you knew you weren't going to take the job before you incurred the expenses, but you made it look like you were interested so you could get a free trip. (That would be fraud, which is both unethical and illegal.)

Companies understand that expenses are part of the cost of doing business. There's absolutely no reason that you should shoulder the costs, and absolutely no reason that you should feel bad about turning down a job offer unless you misled them.

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I agree with other responders that there is nothing wrong with cashing the cheque, however it does warrant responding to them in a polite manner.

As an employer, I would appreciate the following from someone in your position.

  • A nicely worded and thought out Letter or Email from you thanking me and the company for having you to interview and providing reimbursement of my travel expenses. Thank us for offering you the job but regret that you are unable to take up the offered position.
  • Wish me and my company all the best in the future.

This should not go like this

Yo Dude, Thanks for having me round for an interview and stumping up for my bus ride that was really kosher of you. However I've decided to take a better job I was offered - se yaaaaz.

More like

Dear Mr Monroe,

Thank you for taking the time to see me on Thursday, I enjoyed meeting with you and found ABC Corp a very interesting place. Also I would like to thank your HR department for offering to cover my travel expenses for the day. This was unexpected, but very much appreciated.

Unfortunately while I found the job offer you provided very interesting, I have decided to take advantage of another opportunity I have been given.

Once again thank you for your time and generousity.

Your Sincerely

Me.

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While this may not be normal for this company, it is quite normal part of the hiring process. I have travelled many times for interviews and companies always reimburse all expenses, whether they give me an offer or whether I accept an offer.

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