3 Key Steps to Discussing Your Criminal History

Both the application and interview process are full of questions you expect to be asked, like previous employment and experience. One factor, however, instantly separates candidates: Criminal background. For those without, it’s easy to mark no and move on without a second thought. For others with a conviction, it creates a whole new set of questions.

If you’re someone who answers ‘yes’ to this question, perhaps you’ve assumed it will keep you from advancing in a career. You worry about the perception of hiring a ‘criminal’ and consider ways of disguising your past. At the end of the day, your best strategy is to remain honest and forward thinking.

Prepare What You’re Going to Say in Advance

The time to decide what you want to say about past convictions is not on the spot during the interview. These answers should be planned and rehearsed, so you’re confident and direct in your delivery. In two minutes or less, you should be able to concisely communicate the following:

  • how long you served;
  • two to three lessons you learned;
  • how your life was changed as a result, with evidence; and
  • what you can bring to the company.

At this point, don’t mention what you were in jail for, but have an answer prepared in case the interviewer asks. Over explaining can do more harm than good, such as trying to justify what you were doing or why you were arrested. If the charge implies something more dangerous than your actual crime, provide more details, so they understand. Always bring it back to what you took away from your time, and how you would be a benefit to the company.

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Initiate the Conversation

As much as you don’t want to bring it up, it’s much better if you initiate the conversation. Usually, the first question an interviewer asks is for you to tell them a little more about yourself. Here is where you start with some information related to you and your career and segue it into your prepared speech about the time you served.

Remain Focused on What You Learned

After you disclose this information, more questions might be asked. It’s here you stick to the script you established before, and continually turn the conversation back to what you learned and your skills.

Trust Workbox Staffing

To some extent, most people have a past they don’t want to affect their futures. At Workbox Staffing, we get that. We believe in where you are now, and the talent you can deliver to our clients. We make sure our candidates are the best and give everyone a chance. Contact our staffing experts today!

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