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Interview Techniques

Interviewing Techniques for Ex-Offenders

Going on interviews and speaking with employers can be a worrisome task if you have previously served a prison sentence. The New Directions staff has outlined some helpful tips to help you communicate with employers more effectively.

Know Your Rights

• An employer can legally ask about convictions but not arrests. Do NOT discuss any incidents that led to just an arrest.
• In most cases, you cannot be denied employment based solely on your criminal history. Violent crimes or crimes against children may exclude you from some job opportunities.
• An employer cannot legally submit you to a lie detector test.
• If the employer legally fingerprints as part of the hiring process, the employer CAN see a copy of your Record of Arrest and Prosecution (R.A.P.) sheet.
• An employer needs your permission to conduct a background check through a credit reporting agency.
• An employer can however legally conduct a background check through the Office of Court Administration (O.C.A.).
• You have the right to ask an employer for a letter stating why you were denied employment; letter must be delivered within 30 days of inquiry.
• Youthful Offender convictions and other sealed convictions cannot be accessed.

Answering the Questions: Be Prepared for the Interview and Discussion

• Study your past conviction and R.A.P. sheet. Make sure there are no errors.
• Address the ex-offender status yourself. This will relieve the tension you may have about answering the question.
• Addressing the prior conviction yourself will also show the employer you have nothing to hide
• Know the details about your conviction; be truthful; but DO NOT give the employer more information than they need to know.
• Only state what the employer asks for.
• Own your past actions and take responsibility.
• DO NOT shift blame from yourself
• Explain your life changes since your incarceration.
• State your goals and how you plan on reaching your goals.

After the Interview

• Evaluate your performance

  1. How did you respond to ex-offender questions?
  2. Were you prepared?
  3. How did the employer(s) react to your responses?
  4. What can you work on or do better?

• Talk over the interview with New Directions and Career Services Staff members for further tips.

Judicial Icon

Morris Pearson
Director Civic Responsibilities
Chief Conduct Officer, Judicial Affairs and The New Directions Program

Payne Hall, Room 347
Phone: 315.731.5792