Ashley Wilson
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Interview tips for past felons
Last updated: September 30, 2022
Ashley Wilson
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Interview tips for past felons
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Having a past makes interviewing for a job more challenging, but certainly not impossible!

Let's take a look at some tips, commonly asked questions, and the most efficient ways to reframe a past arrest or conviction in a positive and reformed light during your next interview.

Do your research

As with any and all interviews, it’s important to research the company and the position you apply for, the role’s responsibilities as well as the job function. Also, make sure to come prepared with your resume and any other necessary documents on clean paper that’s free from rips or creases. You want to appear polished and presentable!

The nonprofit organization, Jails to Jobs, encourages applicants with a background to create and come prepared with a “turnaround packet.”

What is a “Turnaround Packet?"

A turnaround packet is a folder or physical documentation that aims to convince the hiring manager that you are the best candidate. It also demonstrates that you are now a different and reformed person than you were when you committed your crime.

Ultimately the Turnaround Packet helps build trust with the person interviewing you.

What to include in the packet

One important item that could be included in this packet are four letters of reference, with two fully aware and acknowledging your conviction. They can speak to your personal character and growth, your responsibility, and your long-term goals. These references are strongest when a former employer or landlord writes them.

If you are able, provide certificates of completion of any certifications, specialized job training, apprenticeships as well as educational transcripts or school enrollment forms. Also provide a copy of a clean drug/alcohol report as we as a cleaning driving record from the DMV. Include this, especially if you were arrested or charged with a drug-related offense or have been in an alcohol or a drug rehab program. Consider including any documentation of restitution, for example if you had to pay restitution to a victim or victims or served community service.

While it is an extra layer of work to create a “Turnaround Packet,” many hiring managers will be impressed that you took the initiative and time.

If possible, put each page in a sheet protector, beginning with your resume. This will help the information to look presentable and can also serve as talking points and give you added confidence during your interview.

Some additional tips

During the interview make sure to keep your answers simple and concise. If your prior arrest or conviction comes up, avoid telling the personal details and instead answer honestly and accurately. Accept responsibility and express remorse for your previous actions.

Focus on how your behaviors have since changed and stick to the positive.

Highlight the skills you have and how they can transfer to the role. Speak to any work and training you’ve been able to accomplish during your incarceration. Make sure to highlight your future plans or goals down the line. It’s encouraging to hiring managers to hear that you are focused and ambitious for the long-term.

End the interview with restating the traits and skill set you can bring to the employer and why you are the absolute best fit.

Follow up

Once the interview is over be sure when you get home to send a thank you follow-up email to your interviewer and mention them by name. This gesture can make all the difference in helping you stand out as they make a final decision. In your email: state how you are appreciative of them for taking the time to speak with you and re-emphasize your skills and strengths. This is the last time to sell yourself so be sure to highlight those strengths and positives!

Next steps

If you don't land the job don't worry! This happens to everyone, so don't be discouraged; your hard work and skills will pay off so keep applying! If you did receive the job: what an accomplishment! It’s now time to work hard and exhibit all your outstanding skills and traits during this employment transition. Arrive on time for every one of your shifts/each day, smile, and be agreeable and pleasant. Follow the rules. Remind yourself how far you’ve come and that you are deserving of this second chance.

How has your past impacted your interview?

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Ashley Wilson
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KELLY DAVIS

Sorry this happened to you. Being set up Is more common than people think even when you’re not a felon.

1y
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Abby Lts Toro

So sorry you went thru that, but please dont be discouraged..believe in your self then others will follow. 🙏🏻🙌🏻💞👍🏻

2y
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John Alvarez

In 2019 I was hired at a local bread store. I am an ex felon and on my application on the work history I put my work history while in the Texas Department of Correction. A week after I was hired the manager mentioned to his assistant that I worked for the States of Texas T.D.C. when he asked me to verify his comment, I said "I WORKED IN THE STATE OF TEXAS, NOT FOR THE STATE. They turned to each other jaws opened and said nothing. I did not lie on my application it asked for work history and I put it down. On the application part when asked about my criminal history I did put down my charge and time I served. They ran a background check and I cleared because it was not a violent crime. Long story short after two months I was terminated on a complete lie that abandoned my job. I enjoyed what I was doing I would have never walked out. But they set me up. In the the two moths there I never was enrolled in Direct Deposit like I was told. I never worked the front of the store like I was told. I never got my uniform. Supposedly the company was out of my size. It was embarrassing to get terminated. I felt humiliated. cleared a grown 45yr old and when I think of the whole situation I still cry. I have not applied any where since my termination. I was self employed up until the start of the quarantine. I am struggling in very way imaginable.

2y
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