I'm applying for Lecturer positions in the UK (entry-level faculty, other academic systems might call the position "Assistant Professor").
I just got short-listed for one of the positions I have applied to, and am currently arranging the interview details (time, date, and expenses reimbursement). Going through their forms, I have noticed the following statement:
Candidates who are offered a contract of employment by University of XY but reject the offer lose their entitlement to claim reimbursement of interview expenses.
There is a similar question already. However, the candidate noticed such a clause only after buying the tickets, while I am trying to react to it beforehand.
This strikes me a bit odd. My questions are:
- Is this a typical procedure for interviews for such positions? Is it a red flag? (Or at least, a yellow one?)
- Is there a polite way to respond to this, indicating that I do not agree to this policy, but without sounding like I just want them to pay for a tourist visit?
- These positions have a fixed salary range in the UK, however the call is made across two ranges (simultaneous call for Lecturers and Senior Lecturers), and after all it is still a range. What prevents the University from extending an insultingly low offer to a candidate they do not want to hire, hoping that the candidate would reject it and therefore forfeit their right to expenses reimbursement?
- I was planning to evaluate this University further as a potential good match for me at the interview (see context below). Since I expect the expenses to be relatively small, should I just risk paying them on my own and go check the University out, even if I decide it is not a good fit?
Some context: This particular University was at the low end of the openings I am applying to. The research profiles of the staff did not look overly attractive, but the facilities were well equipped and I could find a couple of interesting people.
I had almost decided not to apply, when a colleague told me about a Research Centre associated to their University. I haven't originally noticed the Centre as it was not affiliated to the Department I am interested in, but a very different one. However, this Centre is very interesting for my current application domain, and could provide me with invaluable data to continue research in that direction (and bring that domain over to that University).
This Research Centre was the number one reason I decided to apply in the end. I've mentioned my definite interest in it in the application, figuring they would not call me if they were not interested in a collaboration with that Centre.
However, even after deciding to apply, the truth is, this particular University is at the low end of my list. I am serious in considering it as a potential place of employment, due to the presence of the Research Centre. However, with all the negative points still in place, I was going to form my final opinion about that University at the interview, which I think is a reasonable approach - both the candidate and the interviewers should look for a good fit.
When I was in a similar situation before, I rejected to go to the interview and have requested to not be considered further, specifically as I did not think the position was a good enough fit to risk the expenses. This was, however, for an industry interview, the travel expenses would have been much steeper, and they were not covering interview costs under any circumstance.