Tips and Tricks

Read the following tips below to gain a better understanding of how to approach job applications and interviews when you have a criminal record.

Answer Truthfully on Job Applications - It is much better to be open and honest about your criminal record (within the requirements of the job applications and state law) because it will help you in the long run.  If an employer hires you, then later discovers that you lied, the employer can likely legally fire you. It is a good idea to know your full adult criminal record to make sure you are your history is accurate.  

Read the Questions Carefully - If an employer asks about felony convictions, and you have only been convicted of misdemeanors, you can honestly answer that you have no felony convictions. Similarly, if an employer asks about convictions within the last ten years, and your last conviction was twelve years ago, you can honestly answer, “No.” You do not need to provide the employer with any more information than the employer asks for.

  Remember the Difference Between Convictions and Arrests - If an employer asks about convictions only, you do not need to provide information about arrests that did not lead to convictions. But remember that you may have been convicted and never served any jail time. Check your record to be sure whether you have been convicted or not.

  Do Not Tell Employers About Arrests that Have Been Erased - Under law, you are not required to reveal erased arrests to employers. Employers are not supposed to ask you about erased arrests.

  Never Reveal your Juvenile Record - Unless you were tried as an adult, employers are not allowed to know about any criminal charges before you turned sixteen.

  Don’t Leave Questions Blank - Employers will assume the worst and won’t give you a chance to explain.

  Don’t Just Answer, “Yes” - Talk directly to the manager or bring a prepared written statement along that you can attach to the application if you are asked about your criminal record. In that statement, you can briefly explain your charge, but, more importantly, you can tell the employer about how you’ve changed since your conviction. Describe education you’ve pursued, job training you’ve engaged in, community groups that you’re a part of.

   Prepare for Job Interviews:

  • Staying relaxed and making eye contact with the potential employer can make a large difference in gaining trust.

  • Have in mind a few key points about how you have changed since your conviction, which you can reference when asked about your criminal record (similar to the written statement for the job application).

  • Avoid focusing on details of the conviction. Employers are less likely to hire someone if they know many details about the conviction and incarceration. Rather, politely steer the conversation towards the positive changes that you have made in you life and why you will be a stable and trustworthy employee.