Would you pay for a job interview?

May 27, 2011 · 43 comments

And life just keeps getting weirder. I mentioned last month that Girl Ninja has been applying for teaching jobs here in Washington. She went through a phone interview two weeks ago with a private school, and just yesterday heard that they’d like to set up a second job interview. Woohoo!!! In addition to an in person interview, they’d like to observe her teach a lesson to a kindergarten class.

That could be a little difficult seeing that Girl Ninja is currently in San Diego.

The principal made two proposals to Girl Ninja. If we were willing/able we would fly her up to WA (on our dollar) next week so she could spend most of Friday at the school doing a second job interview, teaching, and getting a feel for how things work. If we couldn’t get her up here, the other option would be to have Girl Ninja film one of her teaching lessons in San Diego, mail it to the school, and go through a final interview via a Skype session. Awkward!

Most employers will front the cost for any travel expenses incurred by an applicant. Teaching, especially at a private school, is a totally different gig though. We know they have interviewed at least a few other local applicants, so we don’t feel like we are in a position to request for the school to pay for her ticket. I did some quick searching last night and found a round trip ticket for $300. But should we really fork out three hundred big for a second job interview?

We considered going the videotape and Skype interview route, but ultimately decided this would put Girl Ninja at a severe disadvantage. If the administration was able to meet with ALL of the other applicants in person, why the heck would they hire someone they’ve never physically met? What’s more, videotaping and Skyping just seems weird. Have you ever filmed anything, or video chatted with someone online? Technology is unreliable. What if the tapes audio or video was poor quality? What if the internet connection is bad during the video chat interview? A technology glitch could seriously hurt her chances

I’d be lying though if I said the thought of coughing up $300 for a second job interview didn’t bother me. As I mentioned before, we know they have interviewed other applicants for the kindergarten position. What if we fly her up here and they go with one of the other prospects? We’re out $300 and a job. I wish the principal gave us a little more insight in to how seriously they were considering Girl Ninja for the slot. Is she competing with one other person, or ten? Is she the stand out candidate thus far, or just average? If I were Girl Ninja, I’d probably say something like “I’d be happy to fly up for a second job interview, but since it will be at my expense, I’d appreciate some assurance that I am one of the top candidates in the selection pool.” Maybe that’s bold, but I think it’s totally appropriate. Girl Ninja, however, wouldn’t feel comfortable asking such a thing.

So even though we are out $300 and have no guarantee a job offer is pending, we figure it’s worth a shot. It’s been four weeks since we last saw each other, so we are treating this interview as an excuse to hang out together next weekend. Okay… time to go get some liposuction, trim my nose hairs, and get a pedicure so I’m looking super sexy for her :)

What would you have done if you were in our shoes? Paid the $300 straight up? Requested additional information before agreeing to fly up? Or gone the frugal route and done the videotape lesson/skype as the second job interview? Have you EVER paid to interview!?

 

1 Gus

I applied for a job once, and because i was out of state my first interview was a phone interview with the recruitment company. I had one followup call with the hiring manager, but nothing too detailed. I didn’t get the job.

The recruitment consultant said afterwards that I should have made the investment to meet face to face (he didn’t specify who would pay in this case) – he said it would have been an advantage to meet them in person.

As it turns out (not that you asked), I didn’t get the job because I was too ambitious and was not likely to stay in the role as long as they wanted. I was open about career ambition, and they were equally open about their expectations. It would have been a slight backward step career wise/salary, I was probably overqualified, but it had some other benefits (4 day, 35hr weeks was one).

2 Psychsarah

I paid a fortune to travel around the country for residency interviews when I was a broke student. They all say you can interview over the phone, but it’s tough to do a panel interview over the phone, and unwanted to get a feel for where I might be working, which phones don’t let you do. GN will probably appreciate meeting the principal in person and figuring out if he/she is the type of person she wants to work for (remember, she’s sort of interviewing them too). $300 is not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, especially if she gets the gig.

3 Mo D.

I’ve never had to do a phone interview (I’ve been lucky to land most jobs in the city I’ve been living in for the past 35 years), but if I were in GN shoes, I’d fork over the $300 for the airfair. You’ve got the Benjamins in the bank, and nothing beats the face-to-face interview; it would be a good opportunity for her to see the school, get a feel for the staff, potential boss, etc. It’s definitely worth the shot… PLUS the added bonus of spending some time together ;-). If she gets the job (and I hope she does!), it’ll be money VERY well spent; worst case scenario, if case things don’t pan out, she’ll have gotten some additional interview experience… and some Ninja time!

Good luck GN!! We’re rootin’ for ya!!

4 No Debt MBA

Ouch. In my industry it is customary, like you mention, to pay for travel expenses. That being said I have paid for my own travel twice to get to interviews. It was in early 2009 (terrible job market), I’d already had phone interviews at both, and I was pretty desperate to get hired somewhere ASAP. Also the cost was less than $100 round trip since I could drive and stay with relatives.

If it is important for GN to get this job then I think you definitely made the right decision. Sometimes we have to pay for things we don’t want to pay for.

5 tom

I agree with the other peeps here. Sometimes you have to suck it up and pay.

You have to also think that they know you are 100% serious about the job if you pay for travel to a job interview.

I think it is too bold to ask if you’re one of the top candidates. They wouldn’t have the audacity to ask you to pay if you weren’t.

6 Larry

Pay the $300. It is a minimal amount. A willingness to show up in person will indicate greater motivation to take the job. (Besides, it could be tax-deductible – if she has enough job-hunting expenses in her current field to equal 2% of AGI, and ifyou can itemize deductions. Otherwise, you’re out of luck in that area.)

7 Larry

Liposuction, by the way, is much more expensive.

8 SP

In many industries, paying for your own expenses to interview is pretty normal. While I’m wouldn’t be so worried about technology glitches, I just think it is much easier to make a good impression in person than via skype/video tape. I agree with the others, this is definitely an expense you can afford. (Would be nice if she could have more than 1 interview lined up, but i am sure that is difficult/impossible in this market.)

I’ve never paid for interview expenses, but once I was visiting my bf anyway and scheduled an interview while I was in town. had I known far enough in advance, they would have paid for my trip, but I was too busy to schedule a second trip on their dime. And too nice. :)

9 Jen

I would probably do the in-person interview if you really wanted the job. That said, I did get hired for an SAT tutoring/prep company after a Skype interview. It was my first time using Skype, and other than a few minute delay in the beginning as I tried to start it up, it was easy and went smoothly. I actually had to give a “sample lesson about anything you want” over Skype! My lesson was teaching the interviewer how to make blueberry muffins, complete with flash cards and pictures :)

10 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com

You haven’t seen your wife in four weeks. That’s reason enough to pay $300.

With that being said, I’d have GN hold out for a public school job. Private schools don’t pay jack rabbits. If you’re gonna teach, you might as well get paid the highest salary possible. If she didn’t land a full time public school job, she could probably just sub and make as much money doing that as she would in private school.

11 Trina

It is so hard interviewing for a position while you are out of state. Kudos to GN for getting so far in the applicant pool already. The last time we moved from WA to CA I actually had my interview over the phone…while I was at my current job. Talk about weird/awkward. But it worked, I got the job (4th grade at a K-8).
Anyhoo, she will do great. And it seems like the perfect time for a visit…maybe it was the universe telling you to get over your frugal self and just enjoy being in the same state as your spouse for a couple of days:)

12 slug | sunkcostsareirrelevant.com

Yes, it’s mildly insulting they didn’t offer to cover her travel costs, but they did go out of their way to offer alternatives which is reasonable. Additionally, it would seem like a pretty clear reflection of how much ya’ll value this opportunity if you’re not willing to put any skin in the game to understand whether it would be a good fit. Pay. Just remember it’s a sunk cost so it should in no way impact your decision to accept or reject an offer.

13 Denise

I think it’s absolutely a good idea to fly in. It’s not like you’re hurting for cash, and this is 100% an investment for increasing your household income. Also, maybe it’s different over there, but in major Canadian cities it is extremely difficult to get a teaching job. Actually, I imagine it would be harder in the US, since your public school teachers have tenure. So getting a second interview is pretty awesome.

14 ParatrooperJJ

It’s an employer’s market right now. Most likely they have a couple of hundred equally qualified people applying for every opening.

15 spiffikins

I’m wondering if it makes sense for GN to do both? Film at least a bit of her interacting with her own students, since it will be more natural and they can see how she works with kids she’s known all year. Then, have her do the local interview and they can observe her. It seems like she’s going to be at a bit of a disadvantage if they are observing her on her “first” day with a batch of kids, vs a bunch of other teachers who already know the habits (and names) of the kids in their class?

16 NDChic

I would pay the $300. I think that by asking you to purchase the ticket, GN is a top contender. I don’t think that most interviewers would ask somebody to fork over the cost for a plane ticket if they weren’t serious about them as a candidate. It’s not that much money when you are looking at what the job would pay.

17 Momninja

GN is worth the 300$ if they meet her in person how could they resist because she rocks!
Help GN get ready to woo those peeps!

If it doesn’t workout it is good prep for her next interview and it would be there loss.

Dad ninja and I are just happy there is a reason you will finally be trimming those nose hairs!,

18 Mary M

Good grief. Crazy talk. I would think of it as $300 to see you and the bonus of a job interview while I was there. 4 weeks without seeing each other? Come on.

19 Jenn @ Paying Myself

I think there’s a difference between being head-hunted by a company in another city/state who asks you to move, and knowing you are moving and searching for a job before you get there. In the first case, I think they should pay. In the second case, like yours, I think you need to cough up the money. If she asks to do the video/Skype thing I would be concerned that they would read it as dis-interest or not being committed enough.

I personally went through a week of interviews with various firms in a different province when I was in law school. I had to pay the cost of the flight plus a rental car for a week of driving around. I relied on friends for accommodation but would have had to pay for hotels if I didn’t have a friend in each city. Because it was my choice to move to that city, it was my bill to cover. Same goes for Girl Ninja I think.

20 Alotta Lettuce

I would definitely buy the ticket and get my butt to that interview. Given the fact that you already live in Seattle and know that she absolutely must find a job there – rather than in any number of other long-distance locales, it doesn’t make sense NOT to fly up for the interview. Especially since you’re there, which means the $300 expense will really serve 2 purposes.

Also, it is NOT terribly uncommon for businesses to ask candidates to foot their own expenses these days. It’s long the standard in education and non-profit work, but it’s caught on in the private sector as well over the past several years. And that’s assuming that they even consider non-local candidates in the first place – which is something Girl Ninja should be very thankful for.

21 Tim @ Faith and Finance

I would definitely buy the ticket for the interview. A $300 ticket isnt’ bad, plus you get to see your wife.

We had to fork up about $700 to fly out to Arizona this year to interview at a med school…just to be rejected. Talk about OUCH! You got this Ninja.

22 Brenda

I say pay the money. Seeing each other is worth the cost. Maybe drop in or schedule other interviews while there. Get more bang for your buck.

23 Ana

I would pay the $300.
I think the fact that they called and asked for the second interview, can give you a good idea of their intentions. If they weren’t interested in hiring her, they have already hired one of the local candidates. Better to take the risk than regreting afterwards.

24 Lysander

I’d consider the $300 the cost of seeing each other for the weekend and the ability to have a interview a bonus. She has friends and family in Seattle, it isn’t as if the only reason to make the trip is to have the interview.

25 Job Log

I don’t believe in paying your way through life. I wouldn’t want to work for a company with principles this screwed. I’d rather get accepted in my own terms.

26 Samantha

I’d pay the $300 bucks. That $300 might be worth a $50,000 teaching job :)

27 krantcents

If I am paying for it, I might ask that. I would also try to arrange other interviews so you are not just paying for this one interview.

28 Steph/seenonflickr

I agree with most of the other commenters here – I would totally pay for the flight. ($300 round-trip seems cheap to me but then I am used to flying in/from Canada.)

She’s going to want a job there, this one is interested in her, flying up proves she’s serious, she gets to meet everyone in person, and you two get to see each other? Cheap at twice the price.

29 Hal

I’d pay the $300. I believe you can write-off some or all the expense on your taxes. The big bonus is getting to see your sweetie.

30 Paul

what the… if this were a public school, I could see how you would have to figure out your own way to interview, but in your case this is a private school, rightl!? Sounds kinda scammy. If the school were really serious about offering her a position, they should be salivating at the opportunity to fly her to the school to impress her with the opportunities and environment etc.

31 fizzy-j

Situations like this one are exactly why I budget for professional development activities. I put money aside so I can take workshops, go to conferences, take cool people out to lunch to learn from them, and otherwise grow in my career. I don’t think paying $300 is weird at all, nor is the expectation of flying out for an interview. Ask anyone who’s ever applied to medical school.

32 Pumpkin

She should definitely interview in person. $300 is peanuts when you are searching for jobs. She should also call any other places she has applied to and let them she will be in town and she would like to set up a “meeting” with them. It doesn’t hurt to ask right?

33 Eugene Goldberg

Hi everyone.Here to add my two cents….
Interaction in person is the best thing.It allows the employer and the employee get a feel of things about each other and their suitability for the work.But nowadays,the technology is developed to an extent that subject tutoring is done to school kids from across half way round the globe through virtual classroom sessions.Yes its happening.So,if technology is reliable to do this,it is in your friend’s case as well.If I were in your shoes.I would have gone ahead with the virtual interaction for the second stage.May be for the final interview it would have been worth spending $300.

34 MoneyMaus

I agree with a lot of the other comments: face-to-face is THE way to make a great impression. And if that’s at the expense of your wallet? Do it! Plus at the end of the day, it means a weekend to see you and that ALONE (esp after 4 weeks!) is worth the cost. :)

I paid twice to go on two in-person interviews. One was for a company in Seattle just before I graduated college in San Diego. My parents (love them!) helped me out with that one since it was also an excuse for me to come home for a weekend and see them, which they never say no to. ;) The second time was for my current job in NYC, because I’m not in a managerial position they told me outright that they don’t pay for flights, etc to do face-to-face interviews, but for me I knew it was TOTALLY worth it to go out there on my own, and the HR rep had also told me if they want an in person interview, they are already very seriously considering me. I ended up using airline points I had to “pay” for my flight so it basically was free for me. And GN would most likely get bonus points for coming up on her own dime, as it shows how serious she is about the position as well.

35 Kristin

I have a number of friends just out of either undergrad or a teaching master’s program that are having a very tough time finding positions where they want in the current budget climate. This school probably does not need to look for non-local applicants to find qualified teachers, and therefore was probably not budgeting for any travel costs for interviews. For the reasons stated by many commenters above, I would go ahead and pay the costs to meet everyone in person.

36 Andrea

I agree with Kevin, great chance to see her.

I’ve never spent that much on an interview but I might depending on the job.

37 Bankruptcy Ben

I would and have if you factor in clothing and travel etc. Isnt’ it worth spending a little to make a little bit more?

38 Karen

Ninja…

I believe the $300 is a tax deductible expense…. makes it even more worth while. I agree with a previous poster that it would also be a chance for her to contact other potential employers and let them know she will be in town and wants to set up other meetings while in the area.

And my own employment story… I have worked for he same company for 5 years… My only interview was by phone, I have never met any of my coworkers (I work from home), and although I have had 2 promotions in that time… causing me to change organizational groups, I have never met any of the Managers or Directors I work for. Prior to this job I worked for 2 years for another company where I had also never met anyone face to face.

39 Lorraine

I know someone who got the job, in part, BECAUSE they traveled to interview for the job. The hiring manager said they knew he was serious because he went to the time and expense to travel for the interview.

40 Anonymous

I paid for my travel (in my cas, gas for the car) and hotel expenses when I interviewed in a different city. It was worth it–I got the job AND a 10K increase in salary!

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