Clients, fans and job seekers often ask questions via Twitter, Linked In and Facebook. This one comes from Terry who posted this question to me via Facebook:
“Hi Adriana. I have an important interview coming up in two weeks with a very high-profile former pro athlete for an Executive Assistant position. He requires a background check, and I know that if he pulls my credit score it’s not going to be good, and I’m afraid it might affect my viability as a candidate.
Would you make reference to it beforehand? Or just leave it alone? I really, really want this job (I know I’m the best candidate) and want to do everything right.”
Great question, Terry.
Pre-Employment Background Checks
First things first, while an employer may mention a background check is required, you have to complete paperwork and sign it prior to them being able to pull either a background or credit check. This guarantees you’ll know in advance if you’re being checked on. However, 85% of employers Google you before, or after, an interview and often times this can lead to discrimination and job offers being rescinded. They can Google you without your permission so take measures to protect your online identity.
Often times employers will check your background without checking your credit. If you’re in a financial position or financial services industry, you’re more likely to face a credit check. The best way to handle this is by being upfront and honest with the prospective employer. Put yourself in their shoes, Would you want to hire someone that left you with a surprise to find?
Terry’s Answer: Proceed With Caution
If you notice the interview is going well and you’re getting positive indications, you’d be wise to mention that you saw the requirement for a background check. Do this in a way that focuses on his appreciation for due diligence, focus on the fact that you understand his need for security given his public profile. Let him know that you’re aware that background checks sometimes include a credit report and, given that, as an Executive Personal Assistant you’d be working closely together, so in the spirit of full disclosure, your credit score is lower than you’d like it to be which he may find on the report he pulls. Continue by saying that you’re actively working on a financial plan to increase your credit and you look forward to this position becoming part of that plan.
Be careful to avoid going into any other details about your personal financial, or credit, situation. Don’t offer explanations, provide what he might find, etc. Less is more in this case.
Stick to Facts
Remember that you’re in an interview, it’s important to focus on facts that are business-related. If an employer pushes for details because, in Terry’s case, this is a personal/executive assistant position, let them know that the more you work together the better acquainted you will become on a personal level. Convey your appreciation for handling confidential situations and information in any position, especially this one, and remark that he can surely respect you maintaining a level of professional confidentiality during the interview process.