Having a criminal record may be the ultimate red flag for job seekers. If you are asked on an application,

Have you ever been convicted of a felony? If yes, give details.
you basically have four response choices:
  1. Lie by saying "no."
  2. Don't respond - leave it blank and move on to other questions.
  3. Be truthful by saying "yes," and give the details.
  4. Be truthful by saying "yes," and then follow up by saying "details provided at the interview."
Whatever you do, don't lie. Lying will just delay the inevitable - the employer will most likely find out about your conviction during a background check (there's no place to hide these days!).

Your best course of action is option #4 - provide the details at the interview. You want to do this because you need to be in control of the story relating to your conviction.

Once at the interview, you need to do two things in reference to the conviction issue:

  1. Take responsibility for your actions - briefly (one minute) state the facts (crime, conviction, outcome) and admit your mistake.

  2. Focus on how you've changed our life for the better because of this experience. Spend three to five minutes talking about what you learned from this mistake and how you became a new and transformed person. Don't talk too much - just enough to let the employer know you are a potentially very productive person.


SOURCE: Adapted from Ron Krannich, Ph.D., The Re-Entry Employment and Life Skills Pocket Guide (Manassas Park: Impact Publications), page 37. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Copying strictly forbidden.