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Joel on Software

Paying for recruiting trips?

by Joel Spolsky
Friday, June 08, 2007

bronek asks:

I'm from central Europe, looking for programming work in UK. After doing the phone interviews and more or less silly tests, it's time for some face-to-face interviews...

Now, I'm not quite comfortable of paying the expenses of flying and accommodation if they just want to chit-chat with one more candidate, and it's kind of hard to tell over the phone if this is the case.

What is your opinion about getting (or trying to) the recruiting agency (or the hiring company) to pay for the flight?

Well, bronek, if you're really committed to getting a job in the UK, you're probably applying for more than one job.

It's probably worth it to you to pay for the trip if you're going to go to a bunch of interviews. Maybe plan a trip for a week, stay with friends, fly the low cost airlines, and do five interviews in a week.

Then you could politely tell any interested employers who don't want to pay for the trip, "I'd be happy to interview in person. I'm planning a trip to the UK for all the interviews in two months. See you then."

Worst case scenario, you don't spend very much money on the trip, you almost certainly get a job, and you probably even have your choice of employers.

But there's a good chance the mere mention of other potential employers will make these guys realize you're actually in heavy demand. When they think that other employers are competing for your services, you'll seem like a more desirable candidate. This is the principle of social proof. They'll also start to worry that someone else will snatch you up. This is the principle of scarcity. "Opportunities seem more valuable to us when their availability is limited," says Cialdini.

The combination will drive up your market value, and probably even motivate the hiring company to pay for the flight.


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