I am applying for jobs currently, mostly tenure-track jobs, in mathematics. I am currently living in Europe, but I will apply to many jobs in the US and Canada. If I recall correctly, when a candidate is shortlisted for an interview, the expenses are paid by the university.

My question is: would a hiring committee dismiss an application because it comes from "far away"? The budget needed for flying in someone from another state in the US is not the same as the budget needed for flying in someone from Europe. So I'm thinking they might say "Ok, this candidate seems interesting, but we also have an equally interesting candidate which lives closer to us, so let's call the latter". But people in search committees will know better than me!

Note: I would not completely dismiss the idea of paying expenses for myself (in the case of a very interesting interview), but I don't think that's the usual process, and it would sound weird to say so in the application. So this is not really a question about money.

Also, please keep in mind that this is with regards to a somewhat normal application of a regular candidate. I'm not a Fields medallist, in which case those considerations would hardly apply.

  • 4
    I think "dismiss" is too strong a word. "Less chance" is probably close to the truth.
    – Nobody
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 14:24
  • There is another problem you might face. You might be invited to expenses paid interviews for which you have no real chance. Since neither the money for travel expenses nor does your travel time belong to the hiring committee, they may feel freely waste both.
    – emory
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 14:36
  • See academia.stackexchange.com/questions/34464/…
    – StrongBad
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 2:59
  • The short answer is "YES". I have a colleague in the University of Hawaii, who tells me that they do not invite an applicant for an interview, unless they show a real commitment (backed by some solid evidence) of actually strongly desiring the job in Hawaii. It turns out that way too many people apply to Hawaii just to get an interview (and a free vacation).
    – Sana
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 4:15
  • Well, but I would think Hawaii is very special in that sense.
    – dbluesk
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 8:18

1 Answer 1


In short, the answer is that yes, a search committee (or the administrators who would have to pay for the travel) could decide not to invite someone to an interview or invite them without agreeing to pay their travel expenses. I don't believe that there's any legal requirement under US law to reimburse applicants for travelling to an interview, and I've seen some institutions (mostly community colleges) refuse to pay any travel expenses. A more common thing is to reimburse only for travel expenses within the US (so you'd be responsible for paying your own way to New York or LA.) What will happen in any particular case depends on the practices of an individual institution.

If you are planning a trip to the US for some other reason, you might mention in your cover letter that you'll be in the US and could do an interview as part of that trip.

  • 2
    Decades ago, after a post-doc in Europe (and without the internet for a job search back then), I did the 'tack interviews on to a trip to the US for a conference' thing - it worked out well. My institution paid for the conference, potential employers paid the additional to get to them.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 14:29
  • Would it be considered OK to say that in the cover letter? I don't want to sound pedantic (as in "you will like me, but don't worry, I can pay for myself"). I guess the ideal thing would be the committee not caring about this until the moment of the interview comes, in where they tell me they cannot pay the expenses; in that case I would pay (or not, depending on other choices). But saying it upfront seems weird somehow..
    – dbluesk
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 14:36
  • 2
    If you don't make the point up front, you might never be invited to interview. Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 15:03
  • 1
    +1 especially for the second paragraph. If you are a foreign mathematician applying for US jobs, then contriving to already be in the US during peak interview season (January) is really a win-win. Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 15:07
  • 1
    How about if you follow up with a short, somewhat more informal email, after sending your stuff? Something like this: "Looks like I'll be in your area early in the new year, could stop over at University of X for an interview." In other words, as vague as possible. Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 4:33

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