Most employers today run a credit check before they hire. But not every employer cares enough about your credit history to analyze it thoroughly. If you have a foreclosure on your credit report, preparing for an interview should include understanding how to address the issue if it comes up.
You will know if a potential employer is interested in your credit because they must obtain written authorization from you prior to running your credit report. But your credit history is likely not make-or-break when it comes to the hiring decision.
Get your story straight
Run your own credit report before you submit an application with a company. If an employer offers you a job interview and you haven’t yet run your credit, do it. You can obtain your free credit report once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Review your report carefully. If there are other negative items besides the foreclosure, try to clean them up. Be sure to dispute any erroneous items.
A foreclosure will remain your credit report for seven years. A foreclosure is a public record, so before it expires, the foreclosure cannot be removed from your report. But it can be explained.
Understand the job requirements
A foreclosure on your credit report will affect your application process more if you are seeking a job in the finance, accounting, or banking industries. Likewise, if you are interviewing for a job that requires handling cash, a foreclosure on your credit may hold you back. In addition, positions that require budgeting skills (including executive roles) often require adequate credit as a prerequisite for the job.
Read the interviewer
Try to read the interviewer. If your credit report is never mentioned, then don’t bring it up yourself. But interviewers can be shrewd. References to your credit may be oblique. If you sense that your credit is an issue during the interview, then consider broaching the topic yourself. Your previous foreclosure may be an issue that the interviewer wants you to address without having to prompt you. And you don’t want to appear to be hiding anything about your past.
Be prepared to explain the circumstances surrounding the foreclosure. But do not try to shift blame. Calmly acknowledge the foreclosure, explain what happened, then move on to what you learned during the process. Discuss any opportunities that materialized because of the foreclosure, or how your financial situation may actually have improved post-foreclosure.
If you are never questioned about your credit (or specifically about the foreclosure) then there may be no reason to bring it up. If your credit is the weak point in your application, then try to pull focus back to your qualifications for the job.
Don’t let a foreclosure on your credit report derail your interview
Your interview will go great. Don’t let a foreclosure on your credit report hold you back from getting the job. Be yourself. You’ll be a terrific addition to the team.
If you have an amazing credit score, you shouldn’t count on its giving you an edge in the interview process. But if you have poor credit, prospective employers will be interested in why. And they’ll be interested in what you’re doing to improve it.
Employers and lenders view credit reports differently. Lenders want to see sterling credit, but employers want to know the story behind your credit. Most importantly, employers want to know that credit issues won’t hinder your job performance. Do what you can to reassure them that you’ve moved on with your life since the foreclosure.