20/20 Vision: Don’t Overlook Candidate Expense Reimbursement

1.15.2020 | Want to apply for a job? Do it from your phone. Are you here for the interview? Let me get you a refreshment. What did you think of our hiring process? Please take a survey.

2020 is a great time to be a candidate.

Recruiting professionals are wooing top candidates and employers are analyzing and improving nearly every facet of the hiring process. But for candidates who travel for interviews, a large part of their experience is often overlooked – expense reimbursement.

As you peer into the new year, don’t overlook something that may eclipse an otherwise positive candidate experience. Expense reimbursement is more impactful than some employers realize. Look at it this way: It involves time, money, and communication – three things candidates continuously (and unsurprisingly) identify as hot buttons.

Hate filing expense reports? Candidates do, too

There’s a reason why people put off their expense reports until the last minute.

Gathering receipts, entering data, and waiting for reimbursement can be time consuming and some processes are more laborious than others. For an extreme example, look at how expenses were handled pre-internet – workers had to collect paper receipts, tape the receipts to a sheet of paper, copy (or fax) the sheet of paper, and then complete a spreadsheet riddled with data fields.

While this headache-inducing approach may seem antiquated, some modern reimbursement processes remain shrouded in spreadsheets. Even the most desirable, edgy, and tech-savvy companies have underwhelmed candidates with their low-tech methods.

Pro Tip: Make it fast & easy

The best way to respect a recruit’s time is to make reimbursement as efficient and as simple as possible. You may have pored over your company’s application process, and perhaps invested in its design and functionality, but what about reimbursement? Everything the candidate touches should be streamlined and enhance your employer brand.

“Where’s my money?”

When candidates pay for travel out of their pockets, reimbursement can get awkward quickly. The new college grad may need to be repaid sooner than they’d like to admit. Additionally, no one wants to ask or be asked, “Where’s my money?”

The longer the candidate waits, the more their experience sours. And as talent professionals know, applicants don’t hesitate to share their experiences. The following is an excerpt from a Glassdoor post written by an applicant who interviewed with a Fortune 100 company.

Pro Tip: Give candidates their money

Of course you need to reimburse candidates, but you need to do it quickly. Also, do it on their terms. Check, ACH, or even through a person-to-person payment app – give the candidates what they want.

Nice hotels & cocktails

Can I stay at a five-star hotel? Do you reimburse for beer?

Candidates may want to know these things but they don’t want to ask. Some recruits are given guidelines, i.e. “book a reasonably-priced hotel,” yet everyone has a different idea of what is “reasonable.”

If an expense is rejected, it’s very likely to skew their view of your company – even if the rejection is completely justified.

Pro Tip: Don’t be a buzzkill

When expectations are clearly outlined, there are no hard feelings. Throughout each and every aspect of the hiring process, candidates appreciate communication and transparency. Answer the unasked questions by establishing and adhering to a candidate travel policy. Present the policy as soon as the out-of-town interview is scheduled.

2020 is a great time to be a savvy employer. By taking an all-encompassing approach to the candidate experience, you can leverage something that other companies may overlook. Your keen vision may make all of the difference.

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