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Recently I have had the great opportunity of experiencing a company paying for a flight to make an onsite interview. This may be common in the US, but not where I am or the people I work with, it was a great experience.

Unfortunately they decided they wanted to keep looking for candidates.

Now a new company has contacted me, they seem to be in a bit of a hurry. We are trying to set a day and hour for the onsite interview. The problem is, they have the same working hours I do, and neither of us can effect the interview during our working hours, so in order to arrive to their location by public transport, I would take one hour. They would need to leave work to their home 1 hour + time of the interview late.

Is it reasonable to ask for a paid taxi or uber, since on car, it is a 15 minutes journey? I do not own a car, but I could pay for it myself, and am unsure how will that be viewed, i.e. asking for a paid taxi instead of paying my own trip.

Is this somewhat normal/acceptable? Would I be too unreasonable? My objective is to arrive early so I am accomodating to what I guess are their needs (they have asked a couple times if it could be sooner and so on, which could not be, unless I do not work that day and risk being rightfully fired...)

Also, how should I ask for this option in order not to sound rude?

Thank everyone in advance, this place is always helpful

UPDATE:

At the end I did something very similar to the answer by @davnicwil since me and a couple of IRL colleagues thought the same, I thought that was consensus enough. I did not expect this many people helping and pouring their thoughts and experience, so I ended up asking about the possibilitie, and turns out they are not in such a hurry and have re-scheduled for next week, and we are currently working out which day and hour works best for both parties.

Probably next time I will act differently, but just wanted to update that this one time it does not appear, so far, to have hurt that badly (it is possible the HHRR person has acted as a shield since is the only contact I have with them, and acts as a mediator, but this I will never know).

  • I guess I am stingy, sadly. Sometimes I'd rather be someone else and not think this way. Just not used to use money like this – monkey intern Aug 20 at 12:43
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    Does the passage on your paid flight have any relevance or use other than being a humblebrag? You still haven't specified where the rest of the events are happening. – muru Aug 21 at 2:24
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    @monkeyintern Please tell your location. There are differences. In Germany, for example, the company is required to cover all travel costs unless the explicit told upfront that they will not. And there are rules about what forms of transport they have to pay under certain circumstances. – spickermann Aug 21 at 5:09
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    To everyone asking for location, would it be enough saying Southern Europe? Once again thank you all for the answers. The thing about the flight was trying to reflect my lack of experience in this matters (it only happened once), and whether or not I should expect that benefits in the future. For this case, majority clearly thinks it is not normal to ask! – monkey intern Aug 21 at 6:42
  • @spickermann and in the Netherlands no travel cost is typically compensated at all. Even if the job advert explicitly says it will be, in my experience usually it's not. It's considered a cost of doing business as a job applicant. – jwenting Aug 22 at 4:12
95

For a 15 minute trip I would cover the costs myself. It's just not worth the hassle of sending them the receipt and waiting a month for their expenses. If you've flown in to a foreign city it would be a different story, and your transportation could be part of the trip expenses, somewhat dwarfed by your airfare. This doesn't seem the case from your question.

Book a taxi and go to the interview, make sure to be there early, and take a taxi to your work when you're done. Good luck.

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    This. Paying for travel costs to in-person interviews is typically done if more than X miles need to be covered or the candidate is coming from more than X hours of travel distant. IE, where I work we've paid for cross-country flights, and car rentals to drive from "the other end of the state" (Miami to N Florida) as well as hotel accommodations, but someone traveling from the next county over (45 minutes) would get nothing. – ivanivan Aug 20 at 13:54
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    note also if you follow this approach, that in some countries personal expenses for interviews are tax deductible... – Frank Hopkins Aug 21 at 14:00
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I was in a similar situation once, a few years ago, and I chose to cover the expenses myself. To me it seemed like a good investment, considering I really wanted the job.

While there's probably no harm in asking, I figured: why take the chance it might offend someone, or leave them with an impression of me worse that it otherwise might be. I wouldn't want to come up equal in the candidate scores, and be sorted out as greedy. (Even though I don't really consider this greedy, who knows if the interviewer does?)

So in the end, I think it's up to you how you feel about it.

If I could afford it, I'd pay myself. Every. Time.

Note: I spent about $300 in transportation expenses during the interview rounds. But I got the job. I've earned back the money many times since, partly in salary, partly in better job satisfaction and benefits.

10

I think you're overthinking this. Just ask them to book and pay for a taxi. Seems like the company is quite keen to interview you ASAP based on:

  • they seem to be in a bit of a hurry

  • they have asked a couple times if it could be sooner

Now, two things

  1. They know that if you're good, you won't be able/willing to bend to accommodate their schedule at the last minute.

  2. Recruiting is really expensive, much more so than most candidates realise. If they really want to interview you and there are obstacles in the way, they'll pay $Tens - $Hundreds to remove them without a second thought. Overall budget for a successful hire is typically $Thousands.

I'd simply suggest something like the following

I cannot take vacation from work at short notice, so perhaps I could come in early on {earliest possible day} morning for the interview. If you can provide a taxi for me both ways, I can arrive earlier and leave later and this would give as much time as possible for the interview.

They want you to come in ASAP, and there's a scheduling obstacle in the way that can be solved with petty cash. You're bending to their schedule, they should accommodate that. And they will, without blinking, if they're serious about hiring you.

Don't worry about the question offending anyone. It's a fair request. If it does offend someone, it's a red flag frankly. And you know what will make you look like a weak candidate? Bending over backwards to fit your schedule around them at the last minute, paying your own way to do so. That comes over desperate. Remember - they need you just as much as you need the job. Everything involved is a business relationship, including the recruitment stage.

Note: notice that you're not suggesting paying for the taxi yourself then reclaiming expenses. As @rath's answer points out, nobody's got time for that for such a small amount. Just get them to book and pay for it.

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    This is what I and a few IRL colleagues thought at first, to be completely frank. Now, with the amount of opinions in the other side, not sure anymore! But that is good to learn and improve I think. At the end I did something very similar to this answer (by being way too impacient and jumping the gun too soon), and turns out they are not in such a hurry and have re-scheduled for next week. Thanks for the answer! – monkey intern Aug 21 at 10:51
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    FWIW I think you did the right thing anyway. You set the impression that you're not going to bend over backwards for this opportunity. They said no because they weren't in a rush anyway? Fine! Nothing gained, nothing lost :-) – davnicwil Aug 21 at 10:55
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    Thank you very much. Yesterday after the answers I was so nervous about having made a mistake that made me look bad, and I am sure it could happen, based on almost everyone, but I got lucky or, as you said, I appear to have lost nothing, at least. Very interesing situation imho, what you say about strength of negotiation, versus what others think is too risky on a "this can hurt your image". – monkey intern Aug 21 at 10:59
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I work in recruiting and we haven't quite got there yet, buying cabs/Ubers for local interviews. Although I've joked, the way people ghost or no show for car troubles, getting lost, traffic/accidents that might be next... But yeah it's one thing if there is interest from another city, but locally you're responsible for showing your own reliable transportation, and mass transit is that. However, I would try to learn if they have a lot of transit users before the interview, as that would still be your mode of transportation if hired, they may offer discounts to employees. But if you find out they do, then you might find space in the convo to mention you Ubered from work location, and MAYBE someone catches it says send me your Uber receipt. Maybe call and ask reception a few days ahead to investigate how people typically get to work. But don't go in expecting them to reimburse.

3

It never hurts to ask. I believe big companies have rules and they either pay for something or not. So you don't have to be somehow specially convincing, just ask politely "is it possible that you....".

Also, usually, there is another person who manages your trip than the recruiter or interviewer. They may share impression about you to somebody who makes decision, but it at least should be subjectively easier for you for change the topic.

PS: personal experience: I was invited to onsite interviews and went in that cities with my family, and have been discussing with the companies in details how much they are going to pay for hotel etc. I am not sure how I would accomplish it with "it will hurt to ask" attitude.

  • Yes, my mindset was more oriented to this, since I have experienced what you say, different people in charge of different aspects. I THOUGHT it would not hurt, but that might be totally not the case. – monkey intern Aug 21 at 6:44
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    I think it will hurt to ask. – Jack Aug 21 at 6:53
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    It WILL hurt to ask. – Strawberry Aug 21 at 9:18
  • @Jack I edited in a comment about it – max630 Aug 21 at 9:51
  • @max630 How far away was the city in which you were interviewing from where you live? It doesn't sound like a comparable situation to the OP, who currently works only a 15 minute car journey away from where they need to interview. – Anthony Grist Aug 21 at 10:54
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It's not rude to ask, but it's not very professional either. The company knows you're located in the same city, and that they are reachable by public transportation. Asking for a taxi ride in this case is not common. In the end, you're trying to save your time, and suggesting the employer should pay for that will not play in your favour.

Especially for a 15-minute ride you'll likely to leave the impression of being a penny-pincher.

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    you're trying to save your time - well yes, quite, to accommodate their schedule. It's a 2 way thing. It's not unprofessional to ask to be compensated for your time, or to save your time - in fact you should - it's one of your most valuable resources. I wish more people had this mentality. – davnicwil Aug 21 at 13:15

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