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I'm a contracting software tester, and looking to return to permanent work. During a 12 week period of unemployment, a London-based Financial Technology start-up found my CV and invited me for an interview. The role was to replace the Lead Tester there, as they were moving abroad.

I completed a one-hour phone interview, a one-hour technical test before attending a two-stage face-to-face interview (lasting six hours) and met six people from different areas of the business, including the Senior Developers, Technical Leads and a Co-founder.

Everything was going really well, they found me "really easy to get on with and very personable, and thought that I would do a good job as part of a broader team. Further, my broader ‘BA-type’ skills would definitely be an asset."

So, not including the four hours travelling, I'd spent eight hours being interviewed and approximately £70 on train fares.

In the end, the Lead Tester decided to stay, the position closed and was taken off the market.

I really wanted the job so took the time, money and effort as part of the process. But, as the role was closed and not awarded to anyone, should I ask for some sort of compensation? Is it OK to ask about travel allowances after attending an interview?

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    Just a quick idea: Your interview was not unsuccessful. You would have probably gotten the job if there had been a job. Also, I generally would say that one should bring up travel expenses before attending the interview. If it is agreed that some part should be covered, it should be covered unrelated to the outcome. – skymningen May 22 '17 at 9:58
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    Are you on Job Seekers Allowence? They pay money out for travel costs. – ayrton clark May 22 '17 at 10:03
  • @skymningen, thanks. I thought the same, but couldn't think of a clearer / more concise title - I've updated it now. – trashpanda May 22 '17 at 10:05
  • @ayrtonclark, as I'm a (self-employed) contractor, I'm technically not unemployed. I may update the question further to clarify that - but thanks for the comment. Something I'd have definitely considered! – trashpanda May 22 '17 at 10:07
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    As a self-employed contractor, this should be classed as a business expense. Presumably 'your company' paid rather than you. – scotty3785 May 22 '17 at 14:21
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Some organisations offer to cover the travel expenses. With others, you can always clarify before you travel (in which case, they may or may not opt to cover your travel). Unless the organisation explicitly mentions this, it would not be a good idea to ask for a reimbursement (they may not even get back to you on this if you ask).

Also, please note that this is no way different than the job being offered to a different person (in case the original lead had not stayed back). Hence, the job being taken off the market has no significance.

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    +1. Though, regarding your second point, if they found someone more suitable or qualified then fair enough - I wouldn't chase the expense because the best candidate won. But I feel like they lead me on, encouraged me to attend two interviews (hence the cost), showed a genuine interest... and then took away the opportunity to no fault of my own. I don't know, maybe they should/could have planned better. – trashpanda May 22 '17 at 9:48
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    @DanWilson I understand that. However, from the organisation's perspective, they asked you to attend the interview and you agreed. There was a position open, it got closed. If you had asked for the compensation part upfront, they might have agreed (or disagreed) thereby making it simpler. Leading you on might be a bit of a stretch. Organisations try out candidates just the way we try out jobs. Nothing wrong as long as both the parties are on the same page. – Ricketyship May 22 '17 at 9:55
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    I'd agree with this, except that even if the organisation hasn't explicitly mentioned it, I think it's still worth asking them after the fact whether or not they'll cover your travel expenses. It might be their policy not to pay, but it's very unlikely to be their policy to respond by releasing the hounds. Also, it might be their policy to pay only if the request was made in advance (to prevent them e.g. paying for a flight that could have been booked much cheaper), in which case tough luck. If their policy includes some discretion then they may or may not take the circs into account. – Steve Jessop May 22 '17 at 12:24
  • @DanWilson, things change, in this case someone decided to stay who was originally leaving. That is not in any way deceptive. There are lots of times when they advertise fully planning to hire but in the time between the advertisement and the actual hire, something about the business changes. This is ordinary and normal and nothing to be so upset about. It happens. Move on to the next opportunity. – HLGEM May 22 '17 at 22:15
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    Note that this is country-specific, in Germany a company has to cover travel expenses for interviews, many do without you even asking. – Christian May 23 '17 at 10:26
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Its perfectly understandable to be in an economic position that every pound matters. In which case you should clarify up-front with the company's HR their policy on expenses made on the basis of the interview process(since they knew you were not local). Its a whole different thing however to ask for compensation after the process concluded and after those expenses were already made.

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    I'd add to this that it would be unwise to mention why you are asking about travel expenses being paid if it's indeed the case of every pound matters. The company could reflect that fact on remuneration offer. – Pavel May 22 '17 at 13:08
  • +1, the time to inquire about getting your travel expenses paid for is before the interview, not after. – Dan C May 22 '17 at 14:42
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In this day and age, remote interviews should always be possible ESPECIALLY for a contract gig. If a company INSISTS on a face-to-face then in my book they automatically assume the costs associated.

This is called taking responsibility for ones' own practices. What would it be like to actually work at such a firm, if they are treating you like this at interview?

IMHO, Downloading the costs of THEIR 1980s interview process onto a contractor is a red flag.

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    How does this address the question of whether it is appropriate to ask for expenses after the interview is over? – GreenMatt Aug 3 '18 at 18:36

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