Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dear companies, please feel free to pay for interview costs

I've heard a couple of reports recently of small-ish companies deciding to invite people for on-site interviews, but not being willing to pay for the travel costs.

First, interviewees, be careful about this. Carefully weigh your ability to pay for these travel costs against the likelihood (or not) of being hired. Go into this with your eyes open.
  • Get in writing that they will reimburse you for your travel expenses. 
  • Better yet, get them to arrange your travel. 
Second, interviewers/potential employers, what the hell are you thinking? If you're inviting people from out of town (i.e. more than 120 miles (or two hours of driving) away), are you really not going to pay for the extra $500? At least be upfront about your unwillingness to pay.

Love, CJ

16 comments:

  1. If a company won't pay interview expenses, you have to think they wouldn't pay moving expenses either.

    That doesn't really sound like a company I would want to work at.

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  2. It was a big pause for me, when a small custom synthesis company in San Francisco Bay area contacted me and wanted me to come for a job interview but they were "not sure" if they will reimburse me. That got me to ask a lot more questions about what they are doing, and how - and it became clear that they are "a GMP-certified" facility without access to NMR. They were doing some medical devices and etertained idea about doing chemistry too but were not willing to invest in the labs. Then I found out who was the owner and boss - not a good reputation within the industry - and that was enough for me

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  3. Also, when you do pay expenses, please pay them promptly. Interviewees shouldn't be bankrolling a company or helping your cash flow.

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  4. I interviewed for a job with the fed gov, and I was given the choice of doing the interview over Skype. Saved some tax dollars, and I got the job.

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  5. I've definitely felt the two extremes:

    One, a company in Big City, USA, boasting of $x million in annual revenue right on their home page.
    (They didn't pay, and gave me a weaselly reason why not)

    Two, a tiny company in the sticks, with only 8 employees, that paid me promptly within 3 business days.
    (The right way to do it, IMHO)

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  6. CMO Guy and Milkshake bring up good points. I was contacted by a small outfit in Colorado after I finished my postdoc. To their credit, they were up front about not paying for interview costs and one of the first questions they asked was how I felt about it. When I inquired why they said they had a strong local candidate pool and didn't feel the need to pay for out of state interviewee costs. I resisted the urge to ask "If that's true, then why are you contacting out of state talent?" and instead politely declined. I did confirm what CMO Guy suggested, they were not going to pay relocation for me if I was selected.

    I noticed that a lot of companies are resorting to this tactic recently. The question is whether there's a scenario where it might be worth eating the cost? In general, I think no. But if you're an out of work chemist in New York and you get asked to interview in Boston on your own dime, maybe that's not so bad? Yes, it would suck to pay your way into Boston, but then you'd be in the thick of things, which could be good for your future opportunities.

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  7. Do you have to pay for everyone's dinner the night before and lunch on interview day? You know, the new guy'streat?

    It's cheap, plain and simple. The cost of the interview process is peanuts for most companies. If you've got a good talent pool, you can narrow it down by phone and bring the best 2-3 folks in. If they can't afford that, chances are it's a place you don't want to work.

    Ridiculous.

    Here's a great idea for these companies. Bring in a person a day for a year. As part of the interview, have them do lab-work. Monday's interviewee gets a reaction going. Tuesday's person quenches it, works it up. Wednesday concentrate and purify....

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    Replies
    1. You, sir, have upper management written all over!

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  8. Aqueous Layer just hit on the next round of contract chemistry!

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  9. I had an interview with a small btech a few years ago, and for lunch we went to the food court of a local mall, and I did have to pay for my meal and the guy from the company! I had already decided this was a crappy company (and it went belly up after paying it's CEO a half mill/year for a few more years), but to this day amazes me.

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  10. I had wildly varying experiences when I was interviewing for jobs in Europe (while doing a postdoc in California). One company was unwilling to pay anything at all, while another reimbursed me for a business class flight (!)

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  11. By far, the biggest expense for most companies is labor and associated overhead. Turnover is an enormous cost. If your prospective company is too cheap to spend less that $1000 (often less than $500) to bring you out, that is a red flag. It is a definite sign of a cultural deficiency that does not put the employees as a high priority.

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  12. When I interviewed with my current (small company) employer, which is located about 3.5-4 hour drive from my old place, they offered to fly me in but I proposed that I would get there myself and instead asked for a hotel room the night before, so that I would not have to go interviewing tired after a long drive. Getting a good sleep and opulent breakfast I think contributed to the success of the interview, and immediately made me feel better about the company - and it was very convenient for everyone since they just had to walk across the street an pick me up at the hotel lobby, to walk over to the company. The interview was unbelievably pleasant, and we were done by lunchtime. Altogether the company payed about $150 for the hotel and lunch, money well spent.

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  13. It is a shame that companies willingly expend huge on their associated head hunters while turned thrifty on interview costs. They don't respect the candidates at all. They should feel guilty that they have cost a interviewee time, money and labor to prepare for the interview. Sometimes the interviewers just simply take advantage of their applicants, for marketing and free consulting, at no cost!

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    Replies
    1. Head hunters help managers control the job market, while applicants are those the managers want to control. This is how consistency, team work become so focused. Maybe students shall cross check their homework for now. If there is a confidence in rightness, how one shall afraid of inconsistency. If individual well being is in line with each other, team spirit is guaranteed, no advertise is needed. Job seeks are live under fear, this is how this kind of market can thrive.

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  14. A decent company and a hiring manager, shall pay for all the interview costs, even for local candidates. As the costs are for their positions, not applicants' personnel trips.

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