Q: Last week I saw a classified ad
describing a job opportunity in Los Angeles. Since it asked for
qualifications and a background very similar to mine, I sent a
resume to the specified P.O. Box.
Yesterday I received a letter from
the company's personnel manager requesting that I call him to
schedule an· interview trip to the corporate office in L.A. There
was no mention of travel arrangements from my home In Dallas or
reimbursement in the communiqué. How do I find out if he plans to
pay for my trip? When is the best time to ask? If he offers me the
job, what is the best way to ascertain if the firm will cover my
A: Generally, you can assume
the firm will pick up the tab for your trip. Consequently your
questions on the subject should be something like, "What would be
the most convenient way to handle my travel arrangements. Would you
(personnel manager) prefer that your secretary or travel plan ner
select the flights, hotel, rental car, etc. and notify me by phone
or letter? Or would you rather I do it and provide you with an
itemized list for reimbursement when I arrive in L.A.?" The best
time to ask the above is during your initial phone call when you
discuss a date for getting together.
In the unlikely event that the
personnel manager indicates that you are expecte4 to pay your own
way, you have several options. You might:
your surprise and reply that you assumed the company would foot
the bill. If he and his colleagues are really interested in you,
they may pick up the tab in lieu of losing the opportunity to
that you split the cost. You may want to visit Aunt Molly in San
Diego or spend a few extra days in the nearby mountains. If the
company covers the air fare, you can use the money you've saved
to augment an impromptu vacation.
the entire expense and reserve judgment on the corporation's
policies until you've had the chance to confirm or deny your
suspicions in person.
the invitation, stating that it is your policy to accept distant
interviews only from firms who think talking face to face is
worth the price of your hotel room and plane ticket.
The best time to discuss moving
expenses is after you have been offered the job. At that point you
are its number one candidate, which gives you substantial
negotiating leverage. Tell the personnel manager that, as part of
your compensation package, you would appreciate the company's
covering the costs of your move. Be specific in your request, as
your interpretation of moving costs may differ from your prospective
employer's. In a large company, the personnel department probably
will have a carefully considered policy with little flexibility.
Smaller firms may choose to deal with new hires on an individual
Whether you're discussing travel or
moving expenses, if the firm doesn't state its intentions, you must
take the initiative to clarify responsibilities. Clear communication
averts nasty surprises for everyone.