A recruiter approached me for a job. After clearing the screening interview, they moved me for an onsite interview. For onsite interview, I will have to take a leave from my job. Is it fine to ask them for a day salary as reimbursement? How to ask if its fine?

Note that I am not too eager on joining that company unless the team and the offer are great. Also, I dont intend to disclose my salary. Also my travel expenses will be less than 100 (so technically it should be fine for them to pay day's salary as they fly in candidates as well, which can easily cost 500, and hotel expenses of 200. I dont need these, so they can technically afford to pay me 700. How do I ask?)

EDIT: I will need to take unpaid leave as I have exhausted all my vacations. Is it still unfair to ask for the loss in money that I would get if I don't spend the day interviewing?

  • 1
    I think it depends on the circumstances. How far away is the interview taking place? Do you have to drive for many hours, or spend the night at a hotel? Also, which country is this taking place in (will have to do with cultural factors).
    – AndreiROM
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 5:52
  • Suppose they they end up refusing to reimburse you for the day, would you still go to the interview?
    – Brandin
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 9:00
  • Mentioning amounts without currency or any other relations (like country where you live, current salary, is the amount important for you) is useless.
    – user8036
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 12:36
  • Q: what is your current job? A : interviewing
    – UmNyobe
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 8:40
  • 1
    So in this fantasy world where potential employees can bill their potential employer a day's salary for interviewing, shouldn't the employer, in turn, be able to bill the candidate the salaries of all the interviewers, in particular if the candidate is rubbish?
    – Rob Moir
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 17:36

8 Answers 8


For several reasons you should not do this.

  1. It is not customary to reimburse for the time you are spending on an interview. Reimbursement for documented costs associated with performing an interview is customary (travel, tolls, hotel, etc.) but "soft costs" like time or inconvenience are not.

  2. The cost and hassle of documenting compensation/salary is very cumbersome (filling out tax paperwork for withholding, etc. or paying as a contractor and filing a 1099). Now include the company having to perform this for every interviewer. By contrast, reimbursement for hard costs requires only copies of receipts.

  3. You are compensated in exchange for work/results for the benefit of the company. An interview is a means by which to determine if you are capable and otherwise acceptable to perform the work, it is not the performance of the work itself. Even a "working interview" is unlikely to qualify since, if you are not hired it is unlikely your work was of benefit.

  4. Companies reimburse hard costs for candidates as a means to reduce the barriers of finding a good candidate, not as a way of compensating them. In other words, a company probably will not pay you to "show up" for an interview.

  5. You are taking a "personal day" from your current job, which is probably going to be compensated by your current employer. You are not losing "personal time" as it is at your discretion to be interviewing, relaxing or doing whatever else you may decide that is not "work" for your current employer. So you expect to be paid by both? Perhaps that's a bit much. EDIT: If you've exhausted your paid leave, it is unfortunate that you weren't more conservative while planning your leave. I will keep this point for the benefit of others, but mentioning your circumstances to a potential employer might be like asking them to reimburse you for gas for driving across town and back. Although the cost is real to you, you should be able to shoulder the burden without assistance.

How do I ask?

If you choose to move forward, you can suggest what you have posted here, "I know you typically have higher interview costs for other candidates. Since I am using personal time to be here, is it possible to compensate me for this time?" Be prepared for them to be surprised and, at best, unsure how to handle the request.

The risk in asking is that you are in a negotiation process. Usually you want to "agree on everything" and so if they tell you "no" it will probably make it easier for them to deny a request from you for higher pay or other benefits later. You are giving them practice at turning down your requests, so you should expect them to get better at it as the process continues.

EDIT: One additional note: your request is almost like asking for a "signing bonus" before you even have an offer. If signing bonuses are common for this role, then go for a slightly larger one. If not, ask for one when an offer is made to reimburse you for any lost time/wages. If that is too bold, then you really should not expect compensation for the interview at all.

  • Just a note on your #5 - the OP edited the question to say that they don't have vacation left and will have to take leave without pay.
    – David K
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 15:57
  • @DavidK - thanks for bringing that to my attention. I edited my response.
    – Jim
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 17:19
  • nit: I think you're right about #1 but there's nothing "soft" about "a day's wages."
    – user42272
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 4:51
  • @djechlin - How much is a $500 plane ticket? $500. How much is "a day's wages"? The answer varies, which is what classifies it as "soft" - I'm not describing the impact on the OP, I'm describing the means of measure. But in the sense you are talking about, I absolutely agree. There's nothing soft about losing a day's wages for anyone.
    – Jim
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 6:17
  • 4
    Good analysis, but I would add that the bigger risk is that they'll instantly write the OP off as someone with a poor understanding of how hiring and by extension the workplace works. It's just so outlandish that even asking can damage your candidacy.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 8:54

No, it is not OK.

From the company's point of view they are considering offering you a position as a salaried employee. A salaried employee is expected to "work the job, not the hours". If you are unwilling to invest the expense required to attend the interview then the company will draw the conclusion that you will be unwilling to invest time and effort if they offer the job.

  • 2
    So it would be OK if it was an hourly position?
    – paparazzo
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 13:05
  • You're not a salaried employee before they hire you though. Your answer makes it seem odd companies don't charge you $500 to interview with them just to see how much time and effort you'll put into the job should you take it.
    – user42272
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 4:54
  • @djechlin some companies ask a lot more than that; it's called an internship.
    – Dale M
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 5:44

At one level, I get your point about taking time off and wanting some compensation. The process is burdensome and can be time consuming. However, this just isn't the way things are done anywhere I know of. Yes, you are taking time off (unpaid apparently) to visit with them; at the same time, they are taking time out of their normal business to meet with you. It's a shared risk, since it may prove you are not suitable them, or they are not a good place for you to work. Thus, you should both share in that risk: You go without pay for that day (or use a vacation day or make up the time), they don't get any of their normal work done. Furthermore, you'll only do this with them once, while they'll probably have to do it a few times.

As pointed out in Jim's answer, if the company pays you for the time off, then they'd have to pay every candidate they interview. From their perspective, that would set a bad precedent (as people might line up for interviews just to get paid), and could become very costly if they need to interview several candidates for a single job. So, it's pretty much unimaginable that a company would actually pay you to come in for an interview.

In response to your edit saying you are out of vacation time:

This isn't the problem of the company interviewing you. In fact, if you tell them this, their response might be that you seem like someone who can't manage their time and that they don't think you're a good candidate for the job anymore. And no, it wouldn't be any different if it was an hourly job. Would it be possible for you to make up the time somehow - either by working on what would normally be a non-work day, or by working extra over a few days?

Update: As pointed out in the comments, being out of vacation at the end of the year (when this question was originally posted) may not be a sign of bad choices by the OP, but a wise use because of the current employer's policy. While not every employer will make new vacation available right on January 1, some do. If your employer is one of those, you can ask for the interview to be delayed until after that date, possibly using the holiday season as a reason for the delay, assuming the holidays celebrated in Europe and the western hemisphere (Christmas, Hannakuh, Kwanzaa, and New Year's) are observed where you are.

Final note: Overall, it sounds like you're not really interested in this company. If that's accurate, save yourself and them this waste of time and cancel the interview.

  • To be fair about being out of vacation time, there are only 8-10 working days left in the year (depending on holiday vacation schedules) so being out doesn't seem that odd, especially if his current employer doesn't allow vacation carry-over. Overall +1 though. Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 17:12
  • @DoyleLewis: Vacation policies vary greatly, and I'm accustomed to carrying over some, but not everyone can do that. So you have a point, thanks for raising it. Of course, with the holidays being close (assuming the OP is in an area that celebrates them), another option would be to request to delay the interview until after Jan. 1, if that would allow the use of new vacation. That said, if the question was asked in September, things would be different.
    – GreenMatt
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 17:20
  • +1. This is the most comprehensive and well-reasoned answer on the thread. If I could give another +1 for "this just isn't the way things are done" I would.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 8:56

Got a logic error here. You want them to pay a day's salary, but you don't want to disclose your salary.

You can ask, but the answer is very likely to be "no" and it indicates you are not excited about the opportunity. You are not willing to invest a day of you time? They are investing a day of their time to interview you.


At the risk of overloading the number of answers, allow me to add a few more reasons this is not going to happen.

  1. The company has already made a substantial investment in interviewing you. The time spent by people reviewing your resume, setting up the interviews, preparing for and actually attending your interviews, processing your expense claims - all of these are likely to to be more than the cost of your lost day's pay.
  2. If a company pays you for anything other than expenses you have incurred, that sets up a tax liability for you, as well as obligations on them. Dealing with that tax liability is going to cost them - and you- probably more than the pay is worth.
  3. If you ask, you are painting a picture of yourself as someone who wants to get the maximum amount of money they can out of the company. That's not something that makes you attractive to them.

The answers saying it's "not okay" are right. I think the reasons given so far are speculative and overly complicated. The reason is this is just simply a matter of culture. (In the U.S. anyway, I have no experience elsewhere.) It is an unusual request. Do not make it.


There are basically two ways of looking at this. Your perspective, where on principle you are working that day and therefore ought to be compensated, is not wrong per se. The issue here is that you ostensibly want to be hired at this place, so what you really need to do is look at this from the employer's standpoint. You are probably not the only person being interviewed for this gig and even if you are they aren't actually getting production out of you just yet. They are, in all likelihood, not going to want to pay you, and if the, say, 9 other applicants aren't asking for compensation, that could well be reason enough to tell you not to bother going in at all.

Another thing to take into account is that "all day" interviews are often not the entire day. I have, sadly, had interviews in the past (including one where the prospective employer flew me across the country at their expense) that were set up to be all day but wound up lasting only a couple hours before we decided we were not a mutual fit and exited early. From the interviewer's perspective, that's an even greater reason not to want to compensate you for a full day: why do so for a person they've decided not to hire anyway, when they could at least theoretically still go back to their job for half a day or what have you?

It is an audition, of course, for both sides, and so if you feel that you cannot work for a company that interviews you for an entire day but won't pay you, then it is certainly within your realm of ability to decline the interview. I would not personally use this as a reason to decline, as a lot of employers do this nowadays and you're just going to be excluding yourself from a lot of jobs, but ultimately that's your decision, not mine.


No, not now and not with this particular employer. I understand your feelings about this issue, but you really have to think about it from the company's perspective.

  • There may be a conflict of interest if you're getting paid by one employer while you're technically working for another one.
  • If you don't trust them with your current salary information, then it's highly doubtful you'd be serious about joining their company. At least, I wouldn't take you seriously if you suggested something like that to me and also didn't want to share your current salary information.
  • If you get paid to interview, it could be that you're doing the interview just for the money, but that you have no desire to ever change employer.
  • Also your motivation to lie about your qualifications could be so much higher, since if you didn't take the job, none of your references would be double-checked anyway.

However, it may be possible to position yourself differently for future job interviews.

  • If you don't want to share your salary information, then you may have to portray yourself as your own company. A company doesn't necessarily share the different rates it may charge other clients.

  • Also, it's not unheard of for independent professionals to charge by the hour, even if it's just to hear out a potential client.

Now the question is. Can you do that? Can you portray yourself as your own company? Can you portray yourself as someone who bills for every minute of his time? This won't be an easy task.

  • A second option would be to become so good at your job and semi-famous in in your field that someone with enough power in a company would beg to have you interview with them.
  • If a company with deep enough pockets really wants to do everything it can to try to woo you, then you can basically ask for anything you want. Unfortunately, that's also not currently the case, otherwise you would have said as much.

And finally, let me suggest a third completely different option. Let's say you're really not interested in making money from the interview, but that you view the interviewing process as a huge nuisance to you because you're already working full time. Tell that to the recruiter. See if some of those interviews can't be done piece meal at your convenience over Skype, near your workplace (not theirs), on the weekend, at night, over dinner, over lunch, at the golf course, (insert your favorite hobby here), at a conference, etc.

  • 1
    +/-0: I agree with the first couple paragraphs. However, this is a job interview, and it's too late for the OP to try to present himself as an independent company; trying to do so would probably cause the interview to be canceled.
    – GreenMatt
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 16:07
  • I didn't mean to imply that he could do this now. I totally agree. Now is not the right time. I went ahead and clarified my answer. Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 7:08
  • Also, it's not unheard of for independent professionals to charge by the hour, even if it's just to hear out a potential client. It's also not unheard of for businesses to not bother doing business with such people; certainly the conventional method of doing this is for both parties to absorb their own costs for initial meetings at least. It's simply a cost of doing business.
    – Rob Moir
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 9:23

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