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09/28/06
Interview Question about convictions
Filed under: Interviewing
Posted by: site admin @ 7:53 pm

As those who read this blog know, Perri Capell is a columnist I read for background information.
A recent column “Should I tell employers about long ago arrests”  http://www.careerjournal.com/columnists/qanda/interviewing/20060620-qandinterviewing.html
had an interesting discussion.

Now I don’t wish a conviction on anyone.  However, it can happen.  I am no judge, but I can offer some advice.
First, before the conviction.  If one is arrested, get absolutely the best attorney.  What if you don’t know an attorney?

A friend of mine got into a situation and called for my help.  I recommended that I needed to do homework.
I called a corporate attorney for whom I have a lot of respect.  (Now this is one ‘factoid’ you can store away for
the future– network with your corporate lawyers, if you can.  They can be great resources in times of need.)

Kim did not work in the court where my friend was appearing.  She recommended contacting one possible
attorney who advertized in a law journal.  In addition, she would seek out other recommendations while she suggested
I look at Martindale-Hubbell at http://www.martindale.com/.

Within an hour, I provided a recommendation of an attorney.  She provided exceptional service and advice.  My
friend was a first time offender in a DUI and received a “continuance without a finding” dismissal.  She had to pay
penalties and expensive fees.  Insurance went up.  Points on the record.  But no permanent record.  (This means that
she will be convicted if picked up on a DUI again.)

Now, what should happen if a person received two misdemeanor convictions for driving under the influence 14 and 17 years ago and am wondering whether to exclude them on job applications. Does a person include this information, knowing that it could eliminate the person before a company has a chance to look further?

“Candidates with this question sometimes decide to tempt fate and not mention their convictions in hopes that an employer
a) won’t conduct a detailed background check or
b) if it does conduct a background check, the crime won’t show up because so many years have elapsed.

Assume you don’t disclose the DUI convictions and land the job. You probably completed an employment application asking if you have been convicted of any crimes and if so, to say what they were. You then signed it knowing that any falsehoods are grounds for dismissal. If the misdemeanors surface later on, your employer could fire you immediately for not telling the truth. Would you want to go to work every day with this type of ax hanging over your head?

Or assume you don’t disclose the misdemeanors and the company learns about them before hiring you. Now interviewers will question whether you have been completely forthcoming about other things. In both cases, employers often consider dishonesty worse than a past conviction. 

Perri Capell reports further that under FCRA, screening companies and employers can go back indefinitely when seeking information on reported criminal convictions. (exceptions: some states have passed laws limiting the number of years for certain convictions and arrests.) There’s a good likelihood, then, that your misdemeanor convictions will be reported.

 Wait for the right time to mention a conviction.  Still, when disclosing them, be ready with a good explanation for why these incidents no longer present a problem Ms Capell reported. The FCRA entitles you to receive a copy of a report a background screening company has done on you once annually. And before an employer can investigate you, you need to sign a release giving it permission to do so. At this point, ask which company will conduct your screening and be sure to get a copy of the report to learn what information is being provided and whether it’s correct, she suggests. “Public records aren’t always accurate

While I hope this does not have to be used by anyone.  Here it is.

Dan 

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