How much does attending an interview cost graduates?

Interviews can be a daunting process for any jobseeker, but graduates often find them particularly nerve-racking because of their inexperience at competing for vacancies.


According to new Barclays research, another added pressure for graduates in the current economic climate is the cost of attending interviews. The bank revealed that 25 per cent of university leavers have to apply for five or more roles before they land their first full-time job.


The average graduate goes to more than three interviews before receiving a firm offer, with the costs of travelling and accommodation mounting up for individuals who can’t secure positions quickly and close to home.


So, how much do graduates spend attending a job interview in the UK? How are they funding these expenses? And what effect is this having on their career choices?

Interview costs “shocking”

A typical graduate forks out more than £500 to secure their first job after university – £506.55 to be exact.


Barclays found that individuals spend approximately £58 per interview purchasing appropriate clothes, plus a further £52 for travel and overnight stays each time they’re asked to meet a potential employer face to face.


Sue Hayes, managing director of personal banking at Barclays, said it was “shocking” to discover the true costs that graduates face when they take their first career steps.


“Graduates already face a challenging job market on top of record levels of student debt, so it’s disheartening to see how many of them are struggling to cover the costs of even attending an interview,” she explained.

The graduate financial burden

Student debt in the UK currently stands at an average of £50,800, recent figures from the Institute for Fiscal studies show.


The financial burden is so high that 46 per cent of graduates admitted they had passed up an interview simply because they couldn’t afford to attend. Half of respondents said they avoided applying for jobs in certain locations because of the associated costs.


Meanwhile, those desperate to secure their first role turned to family and friends (42 per cent) or credit cards and overdrafts (32 per cent) to cover their job search expenses.


The cost of job hunting could even prevent graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds from clinching top jobs, despite obtaining a first-rate education.


Some prospective employers – particularly larger firms – may offer reimbursement for travel and accommodation expenses, but this is by no means common practice.

More graduates choosing to stay at uni

The Barclays findings come at a time when graduates appear to be choosing further study over employment, despite a seemingly robust labour market.


The UK’s unemployment rate remains at a 42-year low, with the number of jobless Brits sinking to 1.42 million in the three months to September, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data.


However, figures from Prospect show that graduates appear to be less confident in the country’s labour market. The organisation’s 2017-18 ‘What do graduates do?’ report found that both the employment and unemployment rate for university leavers slumped, but the proportion of people opting for postgraduate courses increased.


“This may be partly attributed to the new postgraduate loans system, but some graduates could also view further study as a safe haven, away from their fears of a Brexit downturn, which has yet to materialise,” said Charlie Ball, head of higher education intelligence at Prospects.

Skills shortages continue to deepen

Graduates may have more opportunities than ever before.


The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) recently emphasised that skills shortages have led to stagnation in the number of new job appointments.


Candidate availability dropped sharply in October, the REC found, with an upturn in demand for talented staff resulting in pay increases across many sectors.


If you are a graduate looking for your first job in the corporate governance sector, please contact Barclay Simpson to see how we can help you best utilise your skills and qualifications to start your dream career.


Our Market Reports combine our review of the prevailing conditions in the corporate governance recruitment market together with the results of our latest employer survey.