By Greg Koenigs, HR Director
This is a question I am often asked when giving presentations regarding the job search process. I also know it is a frequently asked question in many of our other programs such as “Renting 101” or “Financial Fitness”. Whenever you are in an interview – for a job, apartment, loan, etc., you naturally want to present yourself in the most positive light possible. If the interviewer knows you were fired from your last job, had a felony conviction, were evicted from your last apartment or any of another number of “less than shining star” situations, chances are you believe you are not going to get what you want. Chances are the interviewer will discover these things when conducting their appropriate background checks. The result being you will not get the job, the loan, the apartment, etc. because you were not honest on your application.
My recommendation is to be honest. Tell the interviewer that yes you have a felony conviction, were evicted, or whatever, but shed some positive light on the negative fact. Let the interviewer know that the felony conviction was 9 years ago and you were with some friends and made a stupid teenage mistake. You have learned from your situation, have gone through counseling or whatever you have done to make sure this will never happen again. The same type of response could be used for an eviction. It is now up to the interviewer to conduct an appropriate background check and determine if you were being honest in what you told them. I know some employers/companies still will not care. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has provided guidelines to employers that discourage absolute use of exclusion of candidates who have been convicted of crimes if it is not related to the essential functions of the job.
I have faith in people but, I know that not everyone does. I also know that many companies have a mission statement and a list of values that their company and employees are to live by. One of the values most employers tend to list is integrity. With this being said, if we can be honest during whatever interview process we are going through and the interviewer also uses integrity in dealing with you and your situation, the chances of you getting what you want will only improve. If nothing else, you are being honest with yourself and others, which can only build your personal integrity.