Interviewing for a Job with a Criminal Record
by Lewis & Laws
Interviewing for a Job with a Criminal Record
Most all of us make mistakes during our lifetime. Whether these are small mistakes, or bigger, harder-to-recover-from mistakes, we generally try to put them behind us as quickly as possible.
Most of these personal missteps are generally not a part of a job interview—unless you were foolish enough to memorialize your mistake on social media—but those who were convicted of a criminal offense must approach interviews somewhat differently. While it depends, to some extent, what your conviction was for, many employers will overlook a criminal conviction if you can reasonably explain how that conviction inspired you to make positive changes to your life.
Perhaps you can explain to the potential employer that your arrest prompted the realization that you were jeopardizing your future, and made you realize you wanted a different kind of life. If certain accomplishments came out of your incarceration—a high school or college diploma, a 12-step program which put an end to your drug or alcohol problem, the end to a negative relationship—these are all things you will want to mention during your interview. Additionally, consider the following when you are interviewing for a job:
- If your offense occurred many years ago, make sure your interviewer understands that criminal behavior is in your past, not your present or future. If your offense is more recent, you can still explain the important lessons you learned from the experience and how it changed you, and made you rethink your life and your future. Your interviewer is much more likely to overlook your criminal conviction if it occurred years ago rather than very recently.
- Not all interviewers will ask whether you have a criminal background, and some job applications will only ask about criminal offenses for the prior five years. You have no obligation to volunteer information, although you do have an obligation to tell the truth, if asked. In other words, if the job application does not ask whether you have a criminal conviction and the interviewer does not bring it up, you do not have to do so either. Further, if you were charged with an offense, but you were acquitted, or the charges were dropped, you definitely do not have to bring it up—most employers and job applications are only concerned with criminal convictions. Still other employers are only concerned about felony offenses, so if you have a DUI which was charged as a misdemeanor, you do not need to offer that information.
- How you handle your interview will depend heavily on your offense. In many professional environments, convictions for physical or sexual acts of violence, theft, fraud or embezzlement can be deal breakers, while such offenses as public intoxication or marijuana possession may be considered “risky” to the interviewer.
- Your resume’ is not the place to mention your criminal conviction. A resume’ is only to detail your educational background, skills and employment history. If you make the mistake of including your criminal conviction on your resume’, not only will you end up looking foolish, your interviewer will think there are worse things in your past or your life than the conviction.
- Obviously, one youthful indiscretion is easier to explain away than a string of (recent) criminal convictions. Yet either way, you still need a job. The best you can do in this situation is to tell your employer that you are a hard worker who is responsible and dependable, that you will come in early and stay late, and that your criminal past is behind you. Then discuss how you have changed after your most recent incarceration.
- Never attempt to rationalize your criminal behaviors or place the blame on someone else—you will almost certainly end your chances of obtaining employment. Take responsibility for your actions, acknowledge your failings, then point out your accomplishments since your arrest.
Are you looking to put your life back together after an arrest or conviction? Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers at Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws
The expert defense team at Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws, PLLC vigorously defend the rights of individuals facing a multitude of charges in Seattle, Bellevue, and Kirkland. We can also help you after a conviction and determine if you are eligible for expungement. Contact us today at 206.209.0608 or fill out our online contact form to get more information or to get a free case review!