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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
& Director/Founder New Directions Program