Have You Ever Been Convicted of A Crime

Interview Question: Have You Ever Been Convicted of A Crime?

How to answer the interview question- have you ever been convicted of a crime? Most organizations and companies take employee discipline seriously; no one wants to hire a worker they don’t know. Similarly, recruitment agencies are faced with the herculean task of striking a balance to identify and recruit the best candidate for the job. Have you ever been asked a question that made you uncomfortable? Do you feel awkward when asked to disclose your criminal record? Do you feel that a question or information that is related to being convicted of a crime is personal? How do you react when someone asks you if you have been convicted of a crime? Well, the question isn’t judgmental contrary to some beliefs.

Some job applicants hold their breath the entire interview with the hope that no one asks this question. Even if you have a clean record, the question can make you nervous, especially when asked unexpectedly. The issue of having a criminal record is more common than you might have thought. In addition, the way most hiring managers react to people who have been convicted of a crime is more positive than you might have assumed. Also, a large number of organizations and companies do check the background of applicants before or after the interview. Thus, be as honest as possible when you come across this question; it is your best policy. Therefore, this article will provide tips on how best to answer the question.


Why Do Hiring Managers Ask the Question-Have You Ever Been Convicted of a Crime?

The interview process can be challenging for job seekers with criminal convictions. Recruiters ask the question for the following reasons;

  • Gauge the level of truthfulness and honesty among job applicants.
  • Determine how remorseful candidates who have been convicted of a crime are.
  • Ascertain the level or degree of personal growth among applicants despite the negative experience.


What is a Crime and Crime Conviction?

Although there hasn’t been a universally accepted definition of a crime, statutory definitions still exist. A crime can be defined as an act that is harmful not only to some individuals but also to a community, society, or the state. Such acts are forbidden and punishable by law.

On the other hand, a criminal conviction means that you have been found guilty of a crime by a court or that you have agreed to plead guilty to a crime. If you are found guilty or plead guilty to any crime, you are generally considered to have a conviction.


How to Prepare Your Response to the Question- Have You Ever Been Convicted of A Crime?

When you practice the interview questions before the interview, it helps to make the meeting go smoothly. Please note that when the hiring manager asks you a question about the conviction of a crime, the discussion is expected to revolve around work ethic and experience. since you can’t avoid or escape a sensitive topic during an interview, practice and learn how to bring the conversation back to work-related issues. The following tips should suffice;

  • Be honest and truthful
  • Offer the right amount of detail
  • Show the organization the progress you have made
  • Be remorseful

Be honest: Honesty is a key component of the workplace; it is better, to tell the truth always than lie to look good in the eyes of the hiring manager. Moreover, there is a limit to where lies or dishonesty can take you. Therefore, you should be honest and say the truth when you answer this question. Even if you have been convicted of a crime, say it. However, don’t give or divulge the details of the conviction, instead, just take a decision on how to address it honestly during the interview and ensure that the conversation is work-related. When you decide on wording beforehand, you can be able to calm your nerves and present yourself well. Thus, always be truthful and direct; remember, organizations or hiring managers can use background checks to find information on past convictions. Although some employers may be unwilling to hire someone with a criminal conviction, there are still tons of amazing organizations and companies that will still offer you the job regardless of your conviction history, provided you show them that you have made progress. Relatively, make sure that you honestly and truthfully direct your response back to the skills and experience you have that will be perfect for the role and organization at large.

Offer the right amount of detail:  You don’t have a problem if your answer to the question is no. However, if your answer is yes, you need to choose your words wisely and offer the right amount of detail. This can be tricky; while you don’t want to divulge too much information on the issue, you need to explain what happened that led to you being convicted for the crime. Hence, try and strike a balance between the two. Also, make sure that no information is overshared when explaining the circumstances that led to your conviction. Most importantly, take responsibility for your actions, but come back to the job skills as soon as possible. This is what the interviewer or hiring manager expects you to do. Although knowing about your history is important, most employers are interested and focused on finding out what you have to offer. The ultimate goal is to make the interview about what you can do for the organization in the future.

Show the organization the progress you have made: It is an undeniable fact that everyone makes a mistake. However, your ability to learn from and move on from your mistakes sets you apart. The same can be applied to the conviction of a crime.  Employers tend to be impressed by job candidates who have made tremendous growth and progress after a setback. Thankfully, everyone has the opportunity to redeem themselves after their conviction. What do you do after serving your conviction? Do you go back and commit the same crime? Do you move forward and go back to school? Do you apply and go for an internship? Going to school, doing volunteer work, and pursuing certificates are great illustrations of personal growth. It is important, crucial, and vital to show hiring managers a sense of dedication toward improving. Workers can even add these to an application and then expand on them when asked this question during the job interview.

Be remorseful: I understand it might be a little embarrassing to admit you have been convicted of a crime. Perhaps, you are considering just lying about the conviction, finishing the interview, and never following up on the job. That way, nobody ever finds out you have been convicted and you save yourself the so-called embarrassment. But don’t do that; believe it or not, as mentioned earlier, you can be confident that many hiring managers and companies are willing to work with your conviction. The most important thing is that you show remorse and growth. In relation, demonstrate how your mistakes have made you into a wiser, productive, and more experienced person. Explain how you have changed, assure the employer that you regret your decisions, and indicate how you have learned from these difficult life experiences. I can assure you that your chances of landing a job would be much higher when you show remorse than when you don’t.


Sample Answers to the Question

Below are sample answers to the question- have you ever been convicted of a crime? Beyond just yes or no. These answers should help give potential and current job seekers direction.

  • Since my conviction, I have created s strong bond with others and matured greatly.  Also, I am attending a local support group that has not only helped me personally but has also improved my conversation skills. I think this will serve me well in a customer service position.
  • Yes, I have had some trouble in my past. However, through hard work and resolve, I started to overcome my problems. While I regret those decisions, I feel I have changed for the better in the long run. I am devoted to growing as a person and I believe that will make me a stronger worker.
  • Working past a criminal conviction has taught me to focus on ethics and efficiency. It wasn’t easy to reach a new outlook but in the end, it was very uplifting. As a cashier, I will be able to use my positive attitude to greet patrons from all walks of life.

Interview Questions

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