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Strangest thing happened. A company that called me the other day to schedule an interview is in the process of getting out of chapter 13 bankruptcy. I am not sure whether to bring this up during the interview. At the same time, I feel it's important for me to know the reasons so that to prepare to either get laid off, or the company going under.

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    Why would you knowingly take an unstable job? – Kilisi Oct 22 '16 at 22:36
  • @Paparazzi I assume that's can't declare chapter 11 bankruptcy again. (CH13 is personal debt restructuring not the corporate equivalent.) If the restructuring plan fails they're always subject to being liquidated under chapter 7. – Dan Neely Oct 23 '16 at 0:05
  • I plan on working for the company for a max of a year. Fresh out of college and need the experience. It's an electric company that bought out another and than filed chapter 13 on the company they bought. Is this something that I should bring up? As they say A bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush from the employ reviews I've read on [GlassDoor](Glassdoor.com), they are not a very diverse company. It's what you call a good ole boys type of company. Plus they have a very high turnover rate. – Noah Oct 23 '16 at 3:33
  • Of course if I like the company's culture, managers, work-life etc..I will stay. I'm basing my one year on the employee reviews about the company. – Noah Oct 23 '16 at 15:06
  • I just found out the company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy not chapter 13 and was in debt of more than 40 billion. Ouch... – Noah Oct 23 '16 at 15:10
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I am not sure whether to bring this up during the interview. At the same time, I feel it's important for me to know the reasons so that to prepare to either get laid off, or the company going under.

It makes complete sense to talk about the financial stability of the company. Most likely that is going to have a big impact on your decision to accept or decline any offer.

Remember that when interviewing, not only are they trying to judge your fit within the company, but you must also be judging the company's fit in your career.

You must ask about anything that is important to you - culture, expectations, management style, opportunities, etc, etc. And for most people, the company's financial viability is critical.

Do some research first. Often, you can search and learn why the company declared bankruptcy, how they are getting out of it, and at least some views on what the company will look like on the other side of bankruptcy. Then you can ask more questions about that during the interview. You might even seek out and discuss the company with former employees, if you can find some.

You want to learn how this past bankruptcy affects the company's prospects and future. And most important you want to learn how this might impact you.

I've not interviewed at companies that had declared bankruptcy, but I have interviewed at companies who had recent layoffs. I wanted to learn exactly what I was getting into and exactly what the expectations on me would be coming into a situation that had an unfortunate past. That let me make the right decision for myself.

  • Thanks Joe, I think I'll probably pass on this company. Too many red flags... – Noah Oct 23 '16 at 18:49
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    +1 Very good advice. Doing a bit of research to tell you what got the company into chapter 11, how they are addressing it, and what there goals are, and what the current vector is are all important. If there was a turnover at the top, and new leadership has a reputation for saving lost companies, than it would be good, if not.... very risky. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Oct 24 '16 at 14:55
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I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand, although obviously joining a company in financial distress needs caution and a good understanding of what you're getting in to.

There can be good opportunities in a company undergoing major restructuring, and I had a very positive experience in this sort of environment. The department I joined was coming out of a very tough place - morale was very low at first, as a lot of people had been laid off - but many things that previously might have been set in stone were now open for discussion, both in terms of new business operations and new ways of working, and I was able to use my experience to influence and direct much more easily than I might have been able to in a more stable environment where the views of a brand-new, mid-level guy didn't count for much. I jumped right in, got to lead up some big recovery projects, and from the point of view of my career it was the best job I've had.

So i'd look to do detailed research on how the company and how it came to bankruptcy, and then use the "any questions" section of the interview to really understand their roadmap for rebuilding. Do they have a plan to turn the company around, is financing an ongoing issue, do they have leadership ability to execute, are they confident that they've solved the underlying issues? Questions like that, although obviously phrase them in a positive, open way. They should be accommodating, as it is a two-way process and they should realize that they've got a tough job to recruit in their circumstances too.

If you don't feel confident in the answers then pass, of course, but it's worth taking a look before dismissing it.

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