In Korea, interviewees get paid just to show up

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In Korea, interviewees get paid just to show up

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Woori Bank and Jeonbuk Bank were found to have offered 100,000 won ($92) to college graduates who came to take job interviews, according to a recent study by Job Korea, the nation’s leading Web portal on job search.

It has been one of the unique traditions of Korean companies to hand out small amounts of cash for transportation for those who turn up for job interviews.

In a survey conducted on 150 companies, the two banks handed out 100,000 won to their applicants who went as far as a job interview. This is significantly higher than the average 32,000 won handed to those who participated in the survey.

DSEC, an affiliate of the Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, gave its interviewees 90,000 won while Yuhan-Kimberly, the nation’s largest diaper manufacturer, handed out 80,000 won.

The companies said the money was a way of showing appreciation to applicants who invested their entire day for the interview.

“We earmarked 100,000 won for each interviewee, based on the reasoning those who do not pass the interview should also be compensated for their costs,” said Lee Ho-sang, deputy head of a department at Jeonbuk Bank.

“Our rule is to give relatively generous amounts as there are many college graduates who come a long way from the provinces to our Seoul headquarters just to take the interview,” said Kim Young-il, deputy section chief at Yuhan-Kimberly.

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The job interviews, most of which are held in Seoul, have been a major burden for applicants who reside in the rural areas far from the greater Seoul region.

In a survey by job agency Incruit on 249 job seekers who live outside of Seoul, 42.4 percent said they had given up on pursuing job interviews in the capital despite passing the first stage. They said the primary reason was the cost of transportation.

On average it cost such applicants outside of Seoul 115,000 won, including a round-trip ticket and food expenses, to attend a job interview. This is up 5.5 percent from last year.

The financial burden of traveling and attending a job interview in Seoul was the heaviest for those living in Gyeongsang at an average of 138,000 won. Jeolla followed with 124,000 won. Applicants from Jeju and the neighboring metropolitan area were not included in the survey.

However, not all companies hand out money to their job applicants.

More than 70 percent of 300 SMEs that participated in a survey by Job Korea said they do not grant money for attending a job interview. Most said they don’t consider this necessary (35.9 percent). Others said it was too much of a financial burden.

Companies located in the provinces said that, unlike small and midsize companies, they have to raise the so-called interview fees in order to attract job applicants.

The average interview fee in the Seoul metropolitan area was 27,000 won, but this jumps to 58,000 won for those conducted in the provinces.

By Kim Jung-yoon, Cho Hye-kyung [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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