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I have been invited to an on-site interview for an entry-level position with a tech company. I live in Europe, and the interview will be in another European country, but the company is from the US and the position I am interviewing for would also be in the US. The company has booked my flights and hotel, and recommended me to use taxis in my destination country to travel between the airport, hotel and interview location. They have also sent me a reimbursement policy document, and they will cover all transportation and meals.

My home is quite far away from the airport. I can either take a taxi or use public transport. Public transport is obviously far cheaper, but the taxi is faster, more flexible and less stressful. The policy document they have sent me explicitly states that they will cover the taxi fares to and from the airport. However, I feel like this document may be targeted at an American audience, where public transport is perhaps less likely to be a viable option.

Would taking a taxi rather than public transport leave a bad impression, or be considered wasteful?

Would the perception be different in the US versus Europe, where public transport is typically more accessible?

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    Hmm, I'm not actually sure of how this would be handled. Typically such arrangements cover all your costs and would include transport to and from both airports, but I can see how people might not include the journey from home. Do you have the time to just ask them? That's usually the safest course. – Lilienthal Dec 12 '16 at 12:25
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    @Lilienthal As I mentioned, the policy document they have sent me does indeed state that all transportation costs are covered, i.e. to and from both airports. My question is whether a taxi fare (rather than public transport) would be a fair expense to claim. – JSQuareD Dec 12 '16 at 12:29
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    @JSQuareD Your first priority is to get to the interview on time; if taking public transit makes it more likely to miss your flight, it's a bad option, especially when they're already planning to pay for the taxi. Do what seems most reasonable to you. – employee-X Dec 12 '16 at 22:44
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    They explicitly recommended that you should use taxis. I can't imagine any possible way it could look bad for you to do so. – Michael Hampton Dec 13 '16 at 3:21
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    Look - to the company you're interviewing with the cost of a taxi is not even noticeable. They don't care. They said, "Use a taxi" because they want you to be ON TIME for the interview. THAT is their priority - they don't care about the cost of the transport. £80 doesn't mean squat to them. So take the taxi, and make sure you're on time for the interview. Best of luck. – Bob Jarvis Dec 13 '16 at 17:33

15 Answers 15

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The company is paying all your expenses, including a flight. I don't think there will be an accountant looking how you got to the airport wondering why you did not take public transport. The accountant costs more money wondering than you taking that taxi.

So take a taxi. Don't overthink it. It's not a test, it's just travel.

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    A taxi can easily be much, much more expensive than a flight, so I don't think that this is good advice. – Chris Dec 12 '16 at 14:40
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    I guess I'm assuming you are living in a country that has a developed infrastructure and you are living reasonably close to an airport you can travel from. From where I live, $150 will take you to the next country in a taxi. – nvoigt Dec 12 '16 at 15:12
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    I'm living right in the heart of Europe and 60€ will get me a first class train ticket to a station that exits into the terminal area of the biggest airport (FRA) 352 km away. That's way more comfortable than a taxi. I could even get a taxi to the train station and tickets back and forth for less than your taxi costs. I guess it's simply not comparable when costs vary by that much. – nvoigt Dec 12 '16 at 16:11
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    @nvoigt Please tell me where to move. In the central Europe I live in, 60€ is not even 100km first class, and bus/taxi from train station to airport costs extra. – deviantfan Dec 12 '16 at 16:45
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    Cheap airlines typically operate from smaller airports farther away from the city, so, for example in Europe, it is not uncommon for a plane ticket to cost 20€ and the taxi to the airport 200€. – Val Dec 12 '16 at 23:04
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Travel as you would normally.

I.e, spend the money as if hypothetically you were not having your expenses covered. If you'd normally get a taxi, get a taxi. If you'd normally use public transport then you should use that.

This is a good guideline for all expense claims.

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    I would add that you should travel as you normally would when going to an interview. I might take public transit when commuting to work or making a personal trip, but I will almost always take a taxi for an interview since I find them to be more reliable than public transit (depending on the city). – David K Dec 12 '16 at 14:00
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    @DavidK the problem is, I don't go to interviews all that often, especially not interviews that require me to fly over. So I don't really have an established practice. – JSQuareD Dec 12 '16 at 15:54
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    @JSQuareD My point was just that if you would rather take a taxi, then take it. Pick the mode of transport that trust to get you to the interview on time. – David K Dec 12 '16 at 16:15
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    If the company is paying, why should the method of travel be dependant on what the candidate could afford? You are suggesting that rich candidates should travel by taxi and poor candidates should travel by public transport (or walk, cycle etc) – bdsl Dec 12 '16 at 22:45
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    @bdsl - What the candidate is used to, rather than what they can afford. An interview day is no time for experimenting with novel modes of travel. If in doubt, err on the side of reliability and arriving early. – Jirka Hanika Dec 12 '16 at 23:23
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I am based in the US. In the past, when I have gone to interviews in different cities, the travel expenses from my house to my local airport have not been covered and I usually take public transit. It costs about $1.50 - so I don't worry too much about that expense.

However, the thing I have noticed is that most public transit systems do not give receipts. Most taxis do give receipts. Most reimbursement schemes are anal about receipts. (Maybe things are different in Europe.)

It is easier to get reimbursed for £110 taxi with receipt than £30 public transport without receipt. The reason is with the taxi they will tell the IRS that they spent £110 on business and the IRS will demand proof and they will give them your receipt. In contrast with public transit, they will tell the IRS that they spent £30 on business, and the IRS will demand proof, but they will have none, and then the IRS will spank them (and you as well).

So if public transit is convenient and cheap enough so that you don't care about the expense do it. If you want/need to be reimbursed then take a taxi.

Furthermore adding clarity to the question is that they specifically say they will reimburse taxi fare, but they do not say they will reimburse bus fare. Do not overthink this. Do what is easiest.

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    The difficulty of getting a receipt is not something I had considered. Thank you! – JSQuareD Dec 12 '16 at 20:47
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    Upvoted for pointing out the crucial importance of receipts in any company's reimbursement process, and the difficulty often encountered getting one for public transport. – njuffa Dec 12 '16 at 20:50
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    Of course you get a receipt with public transport - it's called a "ticket". I have used public transport for business trips a few times, and the rule always was "hand in your ticket for reimbursement". The only case I can think of where that would not work is if you use a mobile app for paying - but even then you can probably get a receipt via email. – sleske Dec 12 '16 at 20:58
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    @sleske Every system is different. When I took a trip on the Chicago El system a few years ago, I purchased a token from a vending machine (no receipt). The token was swallowed at the fare gate. There was no proof of that expense. OP should know whether his system will give him a usable receipt or not. – emory Dec 12 '16 at 21:14
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    @emory, ...incidentally, today, the L supports wireless payments -- if you have a credit card that supports tap-to-pay, one can do that (and then have appropriate credit-card statement entries available to submit). That said, one loses the ability to do $.25 transfers (within a two-hour period from a full-price purchase) if not using a Ventra card (which requires a $5 deposit, refundable as transit credit when registered online -- after which a record of all uses of that card is available for download), so that's suboptimal for folks who are going to be in town for a bit. – Charles Duffy Dec 13 '16 at 2:35
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If you visit them in a town that you don't know, taking a taxi is the obvious thing to do instead of figuring out how public transport works. If you travel from home to the airport or train station, you do what's most convenient for you.

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    I think this answer is quite one-sided. In plenty of places that I didn't know, I found taking public transportation the obvious thing to do instead of figuring out how taxis work. – O. R. Mapper Dec 14 '16 at 11:01
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Personally, in every situation I've been in where an interviewer is covering travel costs, they either rent a car or expect me to take a taxi. Public transportation has never been suggested as an option.

Don't voluntarily put yourself in a situation where you're late to an interview because you missed a connecting bus or train. It's unprofessional.

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    In London the tube is more reliable then a taxis..... – Ian Dec 13 '16 at 17:10
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    This answers seems to overgeneralize quite a bit: I am not convinced it is so much more professional to be late because you did not find out how to call a taxi (or how to spot one that's driving by in the first place), how to tell a legitimate taxi apart from a scam one, or because you ended up in a wrong location because rather than a unique stop name and unique line numbers, your destination depends on the taxi driver's personal interpretation of your personal attempt at expressing an arbitrary address that could be anywhere in the city and its surroundings. – O. R. Mapper Dec 14 '16 at 11:17
  • It's generalized because this isn't rocket science. First impressions matter more than your expense report. Get to the interview on time with as little drama as possible. Not hard to do when you can see exactly how long your commute will take in current traffic conditions and summon a cab to your exact geocoordinates. – Ivan Dec 14 '16 at 13:20
  • @Johnny: "Not hard to do when you can see exactly how long your commute will take in current traffic conditions" - that when should be an if, and it can be a pretty big one at that in some places (just thinking of how notoriously unreliable the Google Maps estimates are in my country). As for summoning a cab, that's another quite specific precondition that has to be met. I would have to start a web search (if I've got some internet access) for cab companies to find out how to summon a cab even where I live, not to mention in places that I don't know but might go to interview to. – O. R. Mapper Dec 14 '16 at 21:52
  • @O.R.Mapper I agree, every country's infrastructure is different, but the OP was specifically referencing the US. At worst he can ask the front desk of the hotel to call him a cab. It's worked well for me in non-US countries. – Ivan Dec 15 '16 at 3:36
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There are plenty of cities in the US where public transport is awesome. There are also cities in the US where it's the worst thing on the planet. Your prospective company has told you to use the taxi, so use it.

When going from home to the airport, use whatever you would normally use. However, check your reimbursement documentation. If they need a receipt, then make sure you use a service that gives a receipt.

Once in the city, use a taxi. They are telling you to.

They will not care if you use a taxi to go from home to the airport. They will not even know if public transport is an option. As long as the trip to the airport is a reasonable cost, then that's all they will care about. So just do what you normally do.

For example, if you take a train for $10 then walk 1 block to the airport, then do that. If you take a taxi from home to the airport, then do that. If you take a train to the city, then a taxi to the airport then do that.

But if you were flying to meet a friend in the US and you would take the train to the airport, because the train is $10 but a taxi is $500, then use some common sense and take the train. Don't over think it, just do what you would normally do. They will not think it's wasteful unless you do. If you're looking at the costs thinking "Oh my! That's terrible" then they will likely think so as well. But they are also not going to have any idea what your home public transportation system is like, so just do your "normal thing".

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This is simple, and you have given the answer already in your question (bold added by me):

The company has booked my flights and hotel, and recommended me to use taxis in my destination country to travel between the airport, hotel and interview location.

They recommended taxis - so use taxis. It makes no sense to use taxis at one end but not at the other! You really don't need to think this through any further.

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    The question is about the country of departure, not arrival. – JSQuareD Dec 13 '16 at 10:23
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    Updated to address that :-) – Rory Alsop Dec 13 '16 at 10:26
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    Using taxis at their end does make sense as a none local is not expected to understand the public transport. However I would expect someone to use public transport at their end if it is easy to do so. – Ian Dec 13 '16 at 17:05
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    It makes no sense to use taxis at one end but not at the other! Huh? – TRiG Dec 14 '16 at 16:07
  • TRiG - what is confusing you? The company is already planning on taxis - why confuse their claims dept. – Rory Alsop Dec 14 '16 at 19:26
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When a company is hiring someone new, the process costs the company alot. So whenever a candidate is refused, the company is simply losing money with nothing in return.

If the company is willing to pay for your travel expenses, they should not reject you just for taking a taxi rather than public transport. If they do then it would a waste of their time and money.

Moreover, you do have an explicit statement that they will cover your taxi fees. And if a company is willing to pay for your travelling fees for an entry level job, then i don't think they care about small expenses. It shouldn't matter so take a taxi for more convenience.

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I did some interviews in Germany, and it varied. Some are paying only public transport, but not taxis. For one interview I had to take taxi, otherwise would be late. And they didn't cover it later. But other company covered everything.

You can always ask them before coming for an interview.

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You ask if there is a different perspective between US and Europe, and I don't know. But there is a difference in perspective between positions: many higher paid consultants will less commonly use public transit and consider taxis as a much more acceptable alternative when they cannot drive themselves. They would not go backpacking across many bus stops for example. So there are different perspectives, even within Europe.

(As a side note, a reasonable alternative might be to get a cab to the nearest direct fast train to the airport. But if you must make multiple transfers, have long waits or if the public transportation is unstable, then they'd probably wouldn't consider public transportation as a viable option and wouldn't expect you to use that, nor would they use it themselves.)

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My home is quite far away from the airport [...] Public transport is obviously far cheaper, but the taxi is faster

Your decision should basically have no impact on the interview's outcome whatsoever and you should just pick whichever you honestly prefer - unless the position will also involve lots of travel. If so, it might depend on your position:

  • Will you (basically) be wearing a suit and a customer's first impression of your arrival is important for business relations (if you are trying to sell extravagance or down-to-earth, the answer is trivial)?
  • Will you perform on-site services where no one bothers with your means of travel? But maybe you'll be using lots of tools in which case public transport is a bad idea...

However, if none of that applies, it shouldn't matter too much. Were it the means to get to your final destination I'd say arrive as relaxed as possible, but depending on the flight's duration the first part of the trip may not have too much of an impact on your final stress level. Or it does, but that is ultimately up to you.

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They said to use a taxi, so use a taxi... They aren't concerned with the cost, and if you were to somehow be late due to public transport, they would think worse of your lack of punctuality, than they would think well of your frugality/conscientiousness which lead to you being late... They've extended you the hospitality, don't be afraid to accept it... Take the taxi, be on time, get the job ^^ Best of luck ^^

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Also consider taking an Uber if it's available in your area. I took an Uber in Ukraine to the airport (over 20 miles away) and it costs the equivalent of $10 US. The price blew my mind away because an equivalent trip in the US would have cost me more like 40-50 USD.

I usually take public transit in the destination city when I have time because I like the opportunity to actually explore the city, not in the hopes of getting good graces from the company for saving a few bucks. In the overall picture, taxi fares are small compared to the total cost of recruitment.

  • +1. For uber. I had a friend who even was asked specifically to use Uber, because they were told Ubers are more reliable and safer than taxis (Country was in South America), you can share your ride with the company (e.g. which allows the company access to your real time gps coordinates). – WetlabStudent May 22 '17 at 10:49
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One situation where you might consider public transport: If this job is near to your home and you plan not to move for it, and taxi every day is too expensive, and the interview is where you would work, it would make sense for you to investigate how easy, hard, expensive or cheap it is to get to this company by public transport. Basically a part of the job interview. The same company within 25 minutes walk is much more attractive than one that's 2 hours through hellish traffic.

Just make sure that you have plenty of time to be there for the interview. If you are an hour early, you can use that time to check how food supplies during lunchtime are in that area :-)

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Use whatever method will get you there most reliably on time and with the least amount of hassle. They have explicitly given you permission to use a taxi, so if that's the easiest way for you to get there, then use it. (If they are allowing it because someone in the US wrote the policy, nuts to them for not localizing their documents.)

Remember that a job interview is a 2-way street. They aren't doing you a favor by having you to come in and covering the cost. They are asking for your valuable time and are willing to pay what it takes to get you there. This isn't just about them giving you a job, this is about working out a mutually-beneficial arrangement where you apply your skills to their company. So don't feel bad about spending their money on your transport. That's just what it costs to get you into their office.

Moreover, their decision to offer you a job or not will be based on the interview alone. Unless you spend such an outrageous amount of money getting there as to raise red flags about your judgement, what you spent on a taxi isn't going to change their mind one way or the other. The hiring manager probably won't even talk to the accountant who processes your expense report. They won't know or care how you got there, just how well you do on the interview. You will probably do better if you take the least stressful option.

protected by Chris E Dec 14 '16 at 20:58

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