Getting There with Debut: Why we’re fighting to get your money back

Candidates get asked for a lot when job-hunting. Research and filling in applications... it takes time - and time is money. But money is also money, and candidates spend tonnes of it when travelling for interviews...
Avantika Vaishnav
Avantika Vaishnav

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – job interviews are a necessary evil. They’re as fun as they can be when you’re being grilled on your entire career experience to date. But it doesn’t have to be this way, in fact employers should try to make the whole experience as straightforward as possible – and that includes getting to-and-from said interview.

How much “getting there” actually costs

Students already get asked for a lot in job-hunting situations. All that research and filling in applications… it takes time – and time, as they say, is money. But you know what else is money? Money. And you’re spending tonnes of it whenever you travel around the country for an interview.

Research undertaken by Debut has revealed that the average cost of travel to a face-to-face interview or assessment centre is ВЈ41. That’s equivalent to 8% of the average family’s weekly household spend, and about 130% of a student’s weekly spend on food if you’ve got a local Aldi (trust me, I’ve lived it).

The research also revealed that graduates attend, on average, six in-person interviews before securing a role. Now, 41 multiplied by 6, that’s 246 (quick maths). That’s ВЈ246! If you’re already in employment, add another ВЈ117 for the day of annual leave you’ll have to take. That’s an astonishing ВЈ363 you spend in an average lifetime travelling to and from interviews and assessment days which, by the way, you might not even make it through.

Okay, but what’s the real cost?

You don’t need to be a maths student to know that ВЈ246 is a shedload of money. But what does that really mean framed in the everyday life of a student? Allow us to put in it context –  ВЈ246 is…

  • 2 weeks rent
  • Internet for a year
  • Dining out every night for a week (if you’re feeling fancy)
  • Approximately 82 pints
  • One very swanky coat
  • An incomprehensible number of Megabus trips to see your mates

Why should companies should help?

Because although it’s no walk in the park on the recruiter side, the graduate recruitment process already takes a hell of a lot out of students.

On average the whole thing, from application to decision, takes 3-4 months to complete, with some even taking as long as nine months. That’s a lot of hours prospective applicants need to give up and mental space they need to rent out. Add academics and social pressures into the mix, and you’ve got a cocktail that puts a real physical and emotional strain on a young person.

Now, we’re not suggesting companies need to reimburse 100% of all travel expenses for every candidate – they are, at the end of the day, still businesses; but with the support of the ISE we’ve come up with a nifty solution to keep both candidates and employers happy. By splitting employers into micro-, small, medium and large businesses and setting caps of between 20% and 100% for reimbursement, we’re confident that travel costs for interview needn’t be a hassle for either party.

As Charlie, Taylor, CEO and Founder of Debut explains: “Because Debut are modernising the way in which employers recruit and applicants apply – via mobile – we’re in a strong position to identify issues that candidates are facing, and lobby for small but important changes that will have a positive effect on each individual, and the UK economy.”

Stephen Isherwood, CEO of the ISE also shared his thoughts: “Our organisation did a member survey last year to ask how many student and graduate employers were proactively offering reimbursement for interview-related travel. The shocking fact is that just 26% of them are already doing so.  Some employers do offer reimbursement, but fail to communicate this fact publicly, before the application stage. This could deter students who can’t afford the travel.  The ISE fully supports the ‘Getting There’ campaign, and we look forward to sharing the recommendations with our 300 members.”


When Debut was founded one of our goals was to provide candidates with a better experience when they’re looking for that all-important first job. So given the stresses that it already exerts on our dear students, why should that stretch to their finances, too? Debts accrued by university students are already being looked at on a national level by the government. It’s time for companies looking to hire the next generation of talent to help in their own way.

Covering travel to and from interviews for candidates will not only allow these businesses to reach people from all over the country, but it shows those people that they have their back. It’s win-win in our eyes.

Sign the petition now to back the Getting There campaign!

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