Interview Followup – I didn’t get the job

I recently had a reader walk me through their interview experience. She had a great first interview, and followed many of my interview tips during their second interview. She walked out of the second interview feeling like she had really connected with the hiring manager, and was expecting a call with a job offer.

She was shocked when she received a rejection notice – the standard “We had another candidate that was better qualified for this particular position but we will keep you in mind for potential future positions”.

What happened? Well, one thing that crossed my mind was the fairly standard background check, which often also includes a credit check. There is a fair amount of controversy around using credit scores as job qualification and hiring criteria, and some legislators are even considering outlawing it given the high number of unemployed people, foreclosed houses, etc. That said, it is still a fairly common practice especially in larger companies.

If you have a low credit score due to bankruptcy, default on car or credit car loans, collection agency activity from credit cards, etc. – this may be one factor that is causing a company to not offer you the job even if you interviewed very well. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about it as the company is highly unlikely to tell you this was the reason, and it isn’t something you can proactively address during the interview.

The best approach, especially if interviewing for a mid-senior level position, or a position that involves working with financial information, is to work very aggressively to raise your credit score. There are plenty of sites [including government ones] that offer advice and a concrete set of steps to help with this.

This is one instance where I wish I had a magic answer, but if a company is using credit scores in their post-interview hiring criteria, the only way to effectively address it is to raise your credit score and have damaging information removed from your credit report.

If you are having a lot of great interviews and yet not getting an offer, don’t forget to check your own credit report to see if anything would raise a red flag with an employer.

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