Paying Their Own Way For Job Interviews

A junior job candidate reports that twice this season she has been invited for on-campus interviews but told that the inviting departments would not be able to pay for her travel to the campuses. At all. This is like being invited over for dinner but then told that you will have to bring all of the food and drink. It’s like being taken out for a night on the town but then told you will first have to build the town. It’s like someone handing you a gift bag and then saying that you have to hunt all over the neighborhood for the gifts that are supposed to go in it. No, wait. That last one sounds kind of fun. Scratch that. It’s like being invited for an on-campus interview but then told you will have to pay for your own travel there.

One of the candidate’s interviews was for a tenure-track position, the other for a visiting one. In neither case were the the locations within a reasonable drive. She declined both interviews. (On behalf of the profession, I thank her for that.) Have others had this experience?

Also, WTF?  People in departments that do this, please explain. We really do not want to think of you as cruelly exploiting the hopes of desperate job candidates who, typically being graduate students, are usually in no position to afford to purchase travel on the one-in-three chance of employment, but whom you need in order to prove to HR that you ran a sufficiently wide search. We do not want to think of you as using “ability to pay” as a way of winnowing down the finalists for positions. We don’t want to think of you as being so lousy with accounting that this is what you decide to leave out of the budget. So help us understand what is going on.

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