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Hello everyone;

I have just been shortlisted for an interview with a company in the UK and as such I would like to ask the HR person questions such as salary range as relocation questions before I fly to the UK to attend the interview. I would like to ask these questions before I expend my time and energy flying out to the UK (possibly at my own expense). Is it a culturally acceptable practice to ask these questions in light of my circumstances and as such, how would I ask the question if it is acceptable?

Also, is it typical of UK companies to reimburse interviewees for expenses related to the interview? I interviewed with a US subsidiary of this company a few years ago and they reimbursed all expenses but am unsure if this would be typical in the UK.

wendii's picture

Hi Ken

whatever you may have heard, the british do understand questions!

Have they realised you are in the US? I'm surprised that no one has suggested a telephone interview to make sure you are at least in the ballpark before asking you to fly over - and that would have given you an opportunity to ask such questions.

However, if they have, then I think your questions are perfectly reasonable, and depending on how you have been in contact, an email or a phone call saying: I'm really pleased about the interview and looking forward to meeting you, but I just want to check some things. Can we talk..... would be fine.

As for expenses reimbursement - in my company it's at the hiring manager's discretion. The UK really hasn't woken up to the fact that the 70's are past and that there is a candidate shortage, so may well say - if you want the job, you'll pay to get here. It's worth asking though, because if you don't ask, you don't get.

Hope that helps,

Wendii

CalKen's picture

Wendii;

Thanks for taking time out to reply. I was just unsure as to the typical etiquette between interviewees and interviewers in the UK. I recommended a telephone interview if at all possible but when I called the recruiter back she mentioned that she asked the hiring manager to move the interview date to give me enough time to make arrangements to fly out there (which signalled to me that they are interested in an in-person interview). As this would entail a considerable expense for me (which I would feel would be worth it) I would like to see just how interested they are in hiring me. And, I suppose that I was afraid that if I started asking salary that they may think negatively about that and would react negatively to the rest of the interview.

Although I have several friends from the UK I have just never interviewed with a UK company before so I want to be sure that I do not make any mistakes. Thanks again.

graham's picture

CalKen,

Wendii is right - just make sure you get their acceptance before flying all the way out here at your own expense. I would be very surprised if they didn't meet your expenses. It might be better to leave the discussions about salary etc until you get here

I may be stating the obvious, but I don't know how recently it is since you were in the UK. When my colleagues from our US office come here they moan about the price of everything... and when I go to the US office I take an empty suitcase because things are so cheap. The $/£ exchange rate is not good for you right now - great for us!

So, when you get into salary negotiations (hopefully) take a look around our shops and real estate agents.. and revise your demands upwards.
:shock:
Good luck...

Mark's picture

DO NOT FLY OUT AT YOUR OWN EXPENSE.

EVER.

If a company isn't interested enough to pay for the trip, they aren't interested enough to hire you.

Are you losing income because of the trip? That's different than having to pay for it.

I will bow to Wendii's understanding of the market, but I would NOT ask about salary yet.

Mark

CalKen's picture

Thanks again for your (and everyone's) sagely advice. After thinking about it I thought the same way. I just didn't know if it was customary for UK companies not to fly people out. Thanks again for the input regarding salary. I avoid mentioning salary until the job offer is extended but once again, I was wondering if I needed to discuss this before I paid my own money to fly out for a job that was not even enough money to begin with.

karaikudy's picture

Hmm!! Interesting.

I am just thinking the situation in India, where even for a 100 Mile travel for a job interview, no candidates would even consider spending a 1$ from personal money. Clearly company states that during the call or interview letter that they would reimburse,else no body would even consider thinking of going let alone making the trip. It is an accepted norm here to pay the travel costs for job interview + Per diem at a reasonable rate.

I am glad that the middle east companies who till recently were not reimbursing the candidates,came en mass to select candidates from India have also began reimbursing the candidates for their travel.( As Wendii says the talent pool is shrinking!!).

In my own case, about 4 years back, although the company paid me the airfare for traveling to attend the job interview(with an Australian company) within India, I made up my mind not to join them after they were very fussy about paying the local travel expenses within that big city, which was around 40 US$.(Which is a lot of money, I tell you, in India, those days!!!).

Personal expenses for a job interview, forget it!!!. (Unless you are begging on streets and look for a better career options!!)

Karthik.

karaikudy's picture

Working with a British boss and British influence in India, "by You I meant Me or I" in a figure of speech.
Want to be sure when posting in diverse environment. Another of Mark's advice on use of "you" on interviewing can go ballistic!!.

Sorry.

Karthik.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="CalKen"]Thanks again for your (and everyone's) sagely advice. After thinking about it I thought the same way. I just didn't know if it was customary for UK companies not to fly people out.[/quote]

It varies from company to company, according to the post being recruited for and the general environment. Typically smaller companies won't pay expenses but larger ones are more likely to and the more senior the role the more likely they are to pay and the more they will pay. The exception, in my experience, is financial services companies. Regardless of size I've never known one of them to pay travel expenses. Local Government organisations tend to pay expenses, in my experience, but be prepared for a byzantine form (and if you get the job you'll use the same form to claim expenses as an employee) and a big delay in payment.

A few years ago Birmingham city council (50,000 employees, 38,000 FTE, turnover in the £6-8Bn range) were looking to recruit a new chief exec (basic salary around £160k, bonuses &c leading to an OTE in the £200-400k range depending on quarterly and annual performance plus a range of other benefits of undisclosed cash value). One of the candidates was a department head in a US city (don't remember which one), the council not only paid her travel expenses and accommodation but also for her spouse, political adviser and 'agent' at a cost of around £100k. Obviously that's an extreme case but adjust the organisation size and the position you're going for.

I don't see any harm in asking if they reimburse reasonable travel expenses. Normally I'd say get the recruitment consultant to ask but from what you've written I get the impression that you have and the consultants response was to get the interview date moved, is that correct? My experience is that often companies won't unless asked, then they will. If the company isn't used to hiring from overseas (or may the company is but the manager involved isn't) it could just be that they haven't thought about the costs

If they won't reimburse then you have a choice, pay your own way or say "Thanks but no thanks." My feeling is that if they expect you to pay more than nominal costs (I take nominal as less than 2 hours salary, you might have another measure) then are they the sort of employer you'd want to work for?

Stephen