When you are interviewing for an out-of-town job, the company may offer to pay your travel expenses—but it's also possible that they will not.
When the job market is competitive, there are typically many applicants for every open position, so the company may easily get a sufficient volume of applicants who live in close proximity to the company's office or campus. In this case, you may only be given an interview if you are willing to personally foot the bills for your travel and hotel expenses.
When Companies Pay for Job Interview Travel Expenses
However, for top-level and C-level positions, many tenure-track jobs in academia, or jobs where the company needs to actively recruit candidates, there is much more likelihood that the employer will arrange for travel at their expense or reimburse all or some of your expenses.
Check the Job Listing
Before you apply for a job in a new location, double-check the job posting. It may specify that travel and relocation expenses are not provided. If that's the case, don't expect (or ask) the employer to pay.
If you have been actively recruited by a company, as opposed to finding a job listing and applying yourself, you can expect the company to know where you are located and to cover the costs of interviewing you. This often happens when a company has hired an executive search firm or recruiter/“headhunter” to source the best talent for any given job.
For other applicants, the interview invitation you receive may mention that your expenses will be covered.
Asking for Reimbursement
Not sure who pays? If you don't have any information to the contrary when you are asked to travel for an interview, it is acceptable to ask if the company will be making the travel arrangements for you.
If they do not make travel arrangements, you can ask if there is a possibility of being reimbursed for all or part of the costs you incur to get to the interview. If the company will not be paying for any of your travel expenses, you can inquire about what stage of the interviewing process the company is at. If they're in early stages, interviewing a big pool of candidates, it may not be worth it to make the trip if your expenses aren't paid. In that case, you might decline the interview opportunity.
Alternatively, if you are deeply interested in the job but lack the funding to finance your own travel, you might also ask whether the employer would be willing to interview you through Skype or another online video chat service. Online interviews are more common nowadays, since they can save employers time and money while extending and optimizing their pool of top candidates.
Do keep in mind that if the company isn't paying your travel expenses to get to the interview, it probably won't pay to relocate you either. If you can't afford to move there if you were offered the position, that's another reason to decline the interview. Before relocating to any out-of-town or out-of-state job, of course, you should use salary and cost of living calculators to determine whether a significant move like this would be financially viable.
What Travel Expenses Are Covered?
The travel expenses that are covered depend on the company's policy. In some cases, all your expenses including airline flights, hotels, and meals are covered. Another common practice is for a company to pay for your lodging as long as you pay for your transportation.
If possible, when a company is covering your travel expenses, aim to have the company arrange and pay for your travel. You don't want to wind up in a situation where you have an unsuccessful interview and are also struggling to get reimbursed for your travel expenses.
For any reimbursable expenses—such as meals or your car service from the airport—keep your spending reasonable. This is not the time to splurge on meals. And, do not ask for reimbursement for alcoholic beverages. Do not ask to extend your stay so you can spend time with friends. Keep it professional.
Potential employees are more likely to be expected to cover their own travel expenses for entry-level jobs and jobs for nonprofit organizations.
Job Search Tips When You're Moving
Need help finding a job when you're relocating? Review ten tips for finding a job in a new city when you're moving. If you’re on the ball and begin searching for a new job well ahead of your move to a new city, you may be fortunate enough to be hired by an employer willing to contribute to your moving expenses with a relocation package.
Such packages may include transportation costs to find a new home prior to the relocation, household moving costs, real estate commissions for buying or selling a home, real estate closing costs, and/or job search assistance for a spouse or partner.