For most people job interviews are stressful experiences. For a person with a criminal record, there’s an added dread. Will the record come up? What should the applicant say? Will the interviewer be understanding?

Given our digital age, most employers are asking for criminal record checks. The chances that a criminal record won’t be an issue is becoming rare. In the meantime, a criminal record is not unusual in this day and age. About 4 million Canadians have a record. Given these numbers, employers may be more open to considering a person with a record if he or she has the skills for the job.

Job interviews give applicants a chance to head off the issue right at the outset. This can prevent it from becoming a bigger problem than it needs to be.

Tips for disclosing a record at job interviews

Here are some tips for job applicants with records:

Focus on community involvement: Any kind of community involvement such as sports teams, volunteer positions, boards and other activities will help to convince an employer that the prospective employee is living a positive life in the community. These types of activities build trust. Unfortunately, some volunteer agencies will not accept a person with a record. However, there’s always a way to get involved in the community. Check out local publications and community bulletin boards for opportunities.

Avoid talking about your record at the beginning or end of an interview: First build some rapport with the interviewer. Fit it in at a spot that makes sense. End the interview on a positive note by summarizing why you’re the right person for the job and thanking the employer.

Don’t go on and on: Mention your criminal record briefly, as something that is in the past. Mention how you’ve changed or grown since that mistake and then return to the job at hand. Practice what you plan to say so that you sound calm and confident.

Don’t share too many details: Just tell them the nature of the offence, but don’t describe exactly what you did. Painting a vivid picture makes it harder to forget. Choose your words carefully. Try not to make the circumstances sound threatening.

Is talking about the record necessary?

If the employer is unlikely to ask for a background check then you aren’t obligated to bring it up. Keep in mind that a background check could come up down the road. For example, the company could be bought by another company, a theft or fraud investigation could take place, or the owner could be convinced by a background checking company to buy their services. If this happens, and you didn’t disclose up front, they may think you hid something.

If the job application form has a box to declare a criminal record, you will likely need a background check. Check off the box, and let them know you will discuss it at the interview. Don’t write the details of your conviction on the application form.

If you have a pardon or Record Suspension, you are not obligated to talk about it.

Stay positive. Not every position is the perfect fit and most people will go on several interviews before they get hired. When you get a job offer, you’ll feel great knowing that you can succeed despite your past.

Increase your confidence by sealing your record. Contact us today for a free consultation about the Record Suspension process. We’re available to answer your questions at 1-866-972-7366.