You may have been holding your breath the entire interview hoping that no one asks this question.
Or, maybe you are a perfect little angel and have a clean record.
Whatever the case is, we are going to show you how to answer the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” with ease.
Facts on Employment and Criminal History
Before we discuss a few tips on answering this question, let’s lay down some statistics you may find surprising.
These facts are from a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management.
- Close to one-third of America’s working-age population has been convicted of a crime.
- Approximately two-thirds of HR professionals state their company has experience hiring someone with a criminal record.
- Only 14% of HR professionals state they would not be willing to hire someone with a criminal background.
- Of the 540 managers surveyed, 82% believe that employees with a criminal record have a “quality of hire” that is just as high as (or higher than) workers with no criminal convictions.
- Seventy-three percent of HR professionals state that their company conducts criminal background checks on job applicants.
- Common concerns HR professionals have about hiring those with a criminal record include “customer reactions, legal liability, and regulations.”
The issue of having a criminal record is more common than you might have thought.
Roughly one out of every three employment-age people in the United States have been convicted of a crime.
Also, the reactions of many HR professionals and managers are more positive than you might have assumed.
At the same time, the majority of companies do conduct some form of a background check.
Therefore, honesty is always going to be your best policy.
Let’s move on to how you should respond when a hiring manager asks you, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”
If Your Answer Is “No”
This makes things very simple!
Here is what you should say (word for word) when you are asked if you have ever been convicted of a felony:
Congrats, you can stop reading this article.
You have successfully answered this question!
If Your Answer Is “Yes”
Naturally, this response makes things a little bit difficult.
The fact of the matter is, what’s done is done.
Unless you can invent a time machine, you need to learn how to make the best of your situation.
There are three top tips to remember when searching for a job when you have a felony charge.
1. Be honest
Please, please, please do not lie!
If you are being asked this question, chances are you are going to be given a background check.
You will save yourself and the hiring manager time by being honest.
The sooner you accept this reality, the better.
- There are some jobs that are simply unwilling to hire someone with a felony.
- But, there are still a ton of amazing jobs that will never ask you this question.
If a company doesn’t want to hire you just because of a dumb mistake you made years ago, then they do not deserve you!
Do yourself a favor by answering honestly rather than the truth being discovered eventually.
That would only add an undesirable element of mistrust to the situation.
While answering honestly, you do not have to divulge every single detail.
Try to direct your response back to the skills and experience you have that will be perfect for the position.
2. Show remorse
I understand it might be a little embarrassing admitting you have a felony.
Maybe you are considering just lying about the felony, finishing the interview, and never following up about the job.
That way, nobody ever finds out you have a felony, and you save yourself the embarrassment
But don’t do that.
Believe it or not, by the statistics mentioned above, you can be confident that there are many hiring managers willing to work with your felony.
The most important thing is that you show remorse and growth.
Also, demonstrate how your mistakes have made you into a wiser and more experienced person.
Speaking the truth is a great start, but don’t just say “Yeah, I have a felony.”
- Explain how you have changed.
- Assure the hiring manager that you regret your decisions.
- 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.
3. Apply to other jobs
As a last resort, you can always apply to other jobs.
Yes, there are plenty of companies that will never ask if you have a felony.
There are even more companies with HR professionals and managers who are willing to work with you regardless of your background.
I personally do not have a felony, but I have worked at amazing companies that never asked this question and never conducted a background check.
Don’t get caught up seeking just one position.
- There are thousands of jobs that become available every single day.
- Don’t feel like you must settle for a job you will be unhappy with.
Overcoming the various setbacks of a felony is enough of a struggle without having to think about the impact that it will have on your career.
So, don’t let it have an impact on your career!
Be motivated to find your dream job, and don’t let that felony get in the way.
Keep up a positive mindset as you continue your search for the ideal position.