How could bankruptcy impact my job search?

In this day and age, with so many people…and corporations, for that matter…declaring bankruptcy, it is hard to imagine that this would be a roadblock to employment.  Unfortunately, some employers look for any and every reason to screen out candidates and more are turning to background checks and credit checks to uncover anything questionable.

Unless you are applying for a position that is directly responsible for handling money, it is rare that the issue of bankruptcy will come up.  The only time it might actually be a factor in the hiring decision is if the bankruptcy was the result of blatant financial irresponsibility.  However, for most Americans, it is a financially devastating life event, such as a job loss, a medical emergency or a divorce, that makes bankruptcy necessary.

As a candidate, there is no point in bringing up the bankruptcy.  Your job in the interview is to explain why you would be a good person for the position and should focus solely on your job skills.  Prepare an honest, but brief explanation about the bankruptcy if the interviewer brings it up.  Don’t be defensive or act offended that he or she would ask about a personal matter.  Just answer it matter-of-factly and succinctly and move on.

If they don’t bring it up, then they either don’t care about it or don’t know about it.  It either case, you don’t gain much by bringing it to their attention.  If they discover it later, through a background check, they may come back and ask you about it.  It is unlikely that it would automatically remove you from the candidacy, particularly if you did a good job establishing rapport with the interviewer and proving that you bring all the right skills to the table.  If the employer does automatically eliminate you from the running without giving you any chance to explain the situation, then it may not be the type of company you want to work for.

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