Advice for candidates seeking interview expense reimbursement
In a perfect world being reimbursed for your expenses related to an interview would be really easy.
Step 1: Hiring company gives you an easy to understand reimbursement policy
Step 2: The day after the interview, you submit online all of your expenses and required receipts along with the details for where to send (bank account info, mailing address, etc) the reimbursement amount.
Step 3: Hiring company processes your reimbursement quickly and keeps you posted regarding status.
Step 4: You receive your money back promptly.
If you are fortunate enough to be interviewing with a company that uses Reimbi then you are going to have something very close to this perfect process. But if you are interviewing with another company…
Unfortunately this clean process is the exception rather than the rule. Many companies and organizations never provide a reimbursement policy. The hiring manager or recruiter might mention in an email or a phone call “submit your expenses after the interview”. You probably are going to need to be a pest to get the instructions for submitting expenses post-interview (especially if you weren’t selected).
Tip #1 and the most important of all: Ask for a copy of the reimbursement policy before spending any money. If the company doesn’t have a written policy at least get the information for what you will be reimbursed for and how to submit the expenses in an email before the interview.
Once you have the instructions be ready with all of your receipts. Regarding receipts here are some specific tips:
Don’t crumple them up in your wallet or purse. Put them in a folder.
If you have alcohol with a meal, ask the server to separate the charges from your meal. Some companies will not reimburse for alcohol.
If you dine with a friend or significant other, ask for separate receipts.
Next tip: Submit your expenses promptly. Like the next day promptly. Don’t wait for an answer if you are getting hired. You should submit all expenses at once. If you forget and leave out a coffee expense don’t send in another request for that $4.50. It will slow down the whole process and doesn’t make you look very good with details. That isn’t worth $4.50.
Many companies will have you fill out a spreadsheet and attach receipts in an email. Ask the person receiving the email to confirm receipt along with an estimate of when the reimbursement will be processed.
At this point you really are at the mercy of the person you submitted your reimbursement request to and the efficiency of the company process. After two weeks if you the money hasn’t arrived and you are still in the dark, try following up again. Almost all companies want to do the right thing but one-off reimbursements are not at the top of the pile for bills to pay. Patience and followup may be needed.
Hopefully these tips are helpful to candidates that are going for an out-of-town interview. If you are a company that is interviewing people from out of town, take a look at Reimbi to help deliver a perfect reimbursement.