Hey Readers! Today I wanted to go over one aspect of the employment process that I know we all hate. The dreaded interview questions and how to get through the tricky bit of explaining previous convictions or prison time.
So, you’ve landed an interview with a potential employer – or are looking forward to getting there soon. Either way, you know that the consequences of the background check question can be long lasting after conviction; even after rehabilitation efforts.
Now, these tips that I will list out today aren’t going to guarantee anything, but they will help improve your chances. There are too many variables (convictions, work history, hiring managers and more) in each of our situations to give a guarantee – but these practices have helped me numerous times, so maybe they’ll help someone else too.
Top Terrifying Interview Questions
- Why should we hire you?
- What have you learned from your mistakes?
- What experience do you have?
- The dreaded background check question (or lack thereof)
These are the five interview questions that relate most to felons looking to get hired. They’re also the ones that tended to scare me the most in the early years of the collateral consequences of my conviction.
Why Should We Hire You?
“Well, sir, that’s honestly a great question, and I’ll happily share that I’d really just like to survive.” … might be an answer coming to mind. I know it came to mine multiple times. I never did actually try that one, but it could have at least been interesting.
Anyway, the basic theme here is to talk about what skills you’re bringing to the table. You have something they want (skills or one heck of a passion to learn them) – tell them about it and remind them that you’ve got what they need.
This lets them know that you know what you’re getting into with them – and you want to bring proof of it. Whatever you do – whatever you love enough to spend hours doing each day – make a collection of that work. Document it. And bring it with you to show it off. Some employers will substitute this with a skill test – so try to research your potential employer.
What Have You Learned From Your Mistakes?
“The biggest lesson I learned was definitely to not ever do “that” again. The second lesson was to not date bad boys.” …I did sort of try that one once. I was getting frustrated after a longer than usual line of outright job denials and this time… it happened to actually work.
Now, don’t get too hyped up about that – in all honesty, it was with an auto shop and I think it tickled the guy that I was so upfront and brusque about the situation. But admitting to the background willingly in interviews at this point seems to help negate the negative connotations. This basically sandwiches the background comment with possible positive notes (again – this depends on the interviewer) and gets it out of the way earlier rather than later. Honestly, the last thing you want is to leave from the interview immediately after disclosing the background. Always swing it back toward the positives and try to move the conversation past it before ending the interview.
What Experience Do You Have?
This one is going to vary a bit more. Our experiences are linked by a common thread – but are overall – vastly different. The key things to remember for getting through the experience based interview question include:
Skills are often transferable – If you’re looking at a career change situation – look into the skills you have and connect them to other jobs you’d be willing to learn more about. This can even include some of the skills that are related to past, troubling behaviors. One fellow I’ve worked with had a past connected with con schemes – but he has excelled as a car salesman once he realized he could adapt and use that skill for other purposes. I can’t tell you how many people I know that were once raving addicts
Identify these skills before the interview and relate how those skills will make you stand out in the best way possible in the position you’re applying for. It’s worked wonders for me. (I was hired as a bartender because I talked about my love of psychology once – you never know until you try and you might as well have fun with it)
Skills can be built – This was the route I had to go after my conviction. I had literally nothing but trouble on my record when I set out to make my life better. Things were just a tiny bit bleak back then. I found a nearby day labor place to help me gain a variety of entry-level experience along with the income I needed to survive. Each time I changed jobs, I had something new to add to my resume. Now, over a decade later – I can pick and choose from my job history for each resume I make.
Owning Your Criminal Background Interview Questions
This one is hard sometimes. The ability to share a part of the past that we know will negatively impact the perspective that others have on us is something beyond the description that words provide.
The important thing – is NEVER HIDE your background. It’s easy to find out if you’re lying for one, and they’ll think even less of you for lying once they find out.
Just be open about it. Limit the worst impact of sharing your background by focusing on how you’ve been pushed to be better and showing that you’re working to be better. I have collected a pile of reference letters that help show that I’ve changed my character along with comments about being a determined worker and other such things. So I can’t stress it enough – documenting your ‘good deeds’ and keeping them for your job searches will be one of the best ideas you’ve tried all year.
Now go and smash that upcoming interview and get the job you need. You’re more than your past – and you’re going to have an amazing future with the right mindset.
Love and peace – Aza