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I've received emails from and have been to at least one interview where the companies were just inviting candidates to interviews to "pad out a candidate roster" as this article mentions.

Companies and institutions will interview people like Alex to pad out a candidate roster only in order to get approval to hire someone they've already chosen for the role. They don't mind wasting job-seekers' time on fake interviews just to satisfy a policy.

I'm in India, and so far, only one company I've encountered, had a policy for booking a taxi/flight for the interviewee. I've seen this and this answer, but my question is about how to filter out such companies so that I won't waste my time and money going through the motions of a fake interview? Are there any tell-tale signs? Should I insist on a telephonic interview first? If I get through the telephonic interview, would it be polite to request for reimbursement of travel expenses?

Could it be construed that it is a candidate's right to have travel reimbursed? I feel it's a company's responsibility to bear the expenses, given the way they stretch out interviews. This would be especially hard on candidates who are out of a job and need to manage expenses carefully.

Few days back I saw this satire on LinkedIn:

Dear HR / Management,

Thanks for shortlisting my CV and calling me for interview. Obviously you must have called many others too. I need the job so I will definitely attend the F2F interview, but on the following terms and conditions only:
- You will pay my conveyance and other miscellaneous expenses Rs.250/
- You will also pay me Rs.500/- if you take upto 4 hours of time OR Rs. 1000/- if you take more than 4 hours for the interview process.
- The amount must be paid in cash or transferred online before I leave your office premises. There will be 10% hike in 2nd round, and 20% hike for further rounds.
- My bank details are attached herewith, you can add me beneficiary to save time on the interview day.
Kindly confirm your acceptance so that I can plan accordingly.
PS : Pls don't think I have gone mad. This amount I am charging is for silently and unhopefully accepting your five golden words which you are going to say finally. "WE WILL LET YOU KNOW". Also be assured that you can deduct this amount from my first month salary in case I am selected. My money, hopes, pains, frustration, are not free. Hope you can understand. In case you want to save your/my time +money, you can take my telephonic round. It is free. I won't charge anything from you !!!

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I don't think there is any way you can filter out these sort of interviews. If they are planning on investing all the time it takes to conduct a lot of pointless FTF interviews, they aren't going to quibble over a phone interview.

If you are going to err, and you will err, err on the side of going to a pointless interview in order to avoid missing out on a real one. It never hurts to hone your skills when you are interviewing. The more interviews you have, the more experience you will have in being interviewed. Don't underestimate the value of self confidence in portraying you positively in an interview; it's probably bigger than you think.

I'm on the fence about asking for a phone interview. Yes, you might be able to figure out just the right question in order to sniff out a "fake" interview and thereby save yourself a trip, but you also might end up with them wondering at your motives and red-flagging you as difficult. Again, it's a trade-off and you need to decide which situation is more important to avoid.

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That's a terrible letter to send to a potential employer. If I got a list of demands like yours from a potential candidate, I'd discard the resume and cancel the interview without thought. You're in no position to negotiate or demand anything.

It makes sense that the interviewing company pay for transportation and lodging if you're having to travel for the interview, but you should phrase it as a request instead of a demand.

"I'm excited to on for a face to face interview! As my resume indicates, I'm not a local. Who do I need to contact to set up lodging and transportation?"

Depending on the answer, you take different courses of action.

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    The "letter" seems to be satire posted by someone on LinkedIn. It's not a letter created by OP. OP's question is about how to recognize/avoid companies that conduct frivolous interviews. – Anon Oct 3 at 11:56
  • Indeed it is. I'm unsure if OP realizes that though. – JRodge01 Oct 3 at 11:58
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    It's quite obvious to anyone that it's satire. Including the letter in my question was just to drive home the point of how annoying and costly it gets for candidates (especially unemployed ones) and why it's important to know which companies to ignore, since it'll be very long until companies in India actually care to alter wasteful policies. – Nav Oct 3 at 13:30

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