Dear J.T. & Dale: Does bad credit affect getting a job? I recently was turned down for a position after a credit check was run, even though my experience met all the company’s criteria and I was called back for a second interview. I was upfront with them about my credit. Is this a common practice, and how can companies get away with this? – Landon
J.T.: I know it seems unfair, and that’s why a number of states are enacting laws to prevent employers from using credit history as a hiring criterion.
DALE: But let’s back up for a second. I’m sure there were many applicants for the job, but they picked you to interview, Landon, and you were so impressive that they asked you back a second time. Getting to that point means you did 100 things right. And now, because you didn’t get the job, you’re wondering what it was that you did wrong. BUT… odds are, you didn’t do anything wrong.
It’s like a college basketball team that makes the Final Four but doesn’t win the championship – someone else was better or luckier on a given day. I bring this up because I don’t want you to get fixated on credit history as blocking your future and get defensive in interviews. It may have been a small factor in the company’s decision; in fact, it may have played no part.
J.T.: Some companies use credit scores as one measure of how responsible a person is. And with so many people looking for work, they may feel it’s easier to hire someone with a good credit score.
DALE: Which is why you were right to bring it up in the interview. And you should rehearse a brief statement talking about all you’re doing to repair your credit scores, playing up the “lesson learned” theme.
J.T.: Further, I wouldn’t write off the company that turned you down. Stay in touch. They could be doing more hiring. If they see that you took the rejection well and offered to check in regularly because you were impressed with them and still want to work there, they will remember that. I have coached many job seekers to take that approach, and more than a few have ended up getting calls for jobs, often within a month or two.
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