Candidate Travel Expenses: Should You Use Stipends?

6.18.19 | When a job interview requires travel, most companies cover a majority if not all of the costs. How the costs are covered varies and some employers opt to issue stipends. Here’s an overview of this approach.

It’s straightforward

With a stipend, the candidate is allotted a set amount of money to cover travel expenses. Many companies provide the funds through Visa gift cards or something similar. The employer issues it, the candidate spends it. There are no receipts to collect or audit, no expense reports, no questions regarding what may or may not be covered, no waiting for reimbursement.

It’s straightforward and simple, but is simple always best? It depends. Consider how it may impact the candidate experience.

The candidate is in charge

With a stipend, the candidate gets to decide exactly how the budget is allocated. For example, she or he may book an inconvenient flight in exchange for staying at a nicer hotel. Instead of three inexpensive meals, they may opt for one meal at a sit-down restaurant.

Candidates may appreciate transparency to spend and flexibility, but they’ll have to do the work. It takes time to budget a trip. A candidate must shop airfares, consider hotel options, and estimate the cost of meals. They also may forget to factor in smaller expenses like cab fares and tips.

Will it be too much or not enough?

When most companies issue stipends, they do their best to determine an amount that, while not excessive, is sufficient enough to prevent the candidate from reaching into their pocket. Of course, some interview destinations are pricier than others. One night’s stay in San Francisco will be more costly than a hotel accommodation in Detroit. Ideally, stipends should be scaled based on location, as well as the distance traveled.

If the stipend is too generous, the employer is overspending but the candidate will feel more than accommodated. If the travel allowance is not enough, the candidate may feel slighted. In their mind, how you take care of them as a candidate often demonstrates how you will take care of them as an employee.

Regardless of your approach to travel expenses, keep the candidate experience top of mind.

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