Job application costs, who actually has to bear them by law?

Disclaimer: All of the following Statements are based on the German Law.

Over and over again you can see in job advertisements or during the preparation for a job interview that the company advertising the job points out that they unfortunately cannot cover the costs for the job interview. This raises the question: How do I as an applicant deal with this situation? There is hardly any other legal question on which the German courts are as unanimous as on this question.

According to § 670 BGB the inviting company has to cover the costs!


Well, of course § 670 BGB does not say anything directly about the costs of introduction but § 670 BGB says:

If, for the purpose of executing an order for the principal, which is solely in the interest of the principal and the agent hasn´t been explicitly ordered to do so , the agent incurs expenses which he may consider necessary under the circumstances, the principal  is obliged to pay compensation.

This means that if someone does something for someone else, without a specific order, he must be refunded the expenses made. The only condition is that the transaction is carried out exclusively or at least predominantly in the interest of the other (the principal) and that the person carrying out the transaction has not acted only in his own interest.

Here is a typical example for §670 BGB: Your neighbour goes to the Caribbean for diving and is also not reachable by telephone. Then a pipe burst occurs in his apartment. As a responsible neighbour you take care and hire a plumber and you also have other expenses. As you are the contractual partner of the plumber, you also have to pay him. But don’t worry according to § 670 BGB you only have to wait until your neighbour is back from his holiday safely and then he has to give you a refund of all costs. Regardless of whether he wants to or not. These expenses are only in his interest and not in your own.

Now back to the topic. This is exactly how the courts assess the interests at a job interview. The courts are of the opinion that it is in the exclusive or at least predominant interest of the inviting company to improve its business processes with qualified employees and therefore ultimately increase its profit.
But Caution: If I am informed before the journey to the interview that the costs will not be covered and I go to the interview anyway as an applicant, then this is a legally valid waiver of my claim under § 670BGB.


  1. the question of costs should never be asked by the applicant during the preparation for the interview, but simply lay out the costs and drive to the interview.
  2. only when the final refusal comes, these costs are then claimed.
  3. claims arising from § 670 BGB will only become statute-barred after 3 years. So, time enough!

Now my personal point of view: I can’t understand why companies with high staff turnover or filling simple mini-jobs are charging applicants with these costs for an interview. For companies these costs are a marginal expense. However, these costs are a heavy burden for the individual applicant who is in an economic emergency situation, as he may need a new job or want to develop further. He may have to go through several interviews and these costs always represent a much higher proportion of his available income than for the inviting company.

This post is also available in: German