How to Explain a Misdemeanor in an Interview

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A misdemeanor in your past can remain on your criminal record for a number of years, depending on your state. If you need to find a new job during that time, you’ll want to know how to explain a misdemeanor in an interview to leave a good impression on the employer and hopefully land the position. Practice what you will say before you go to the interview so you’ll be confident in how you want to present the misdemeanor and remember the points about it and yourself that you need to convey.

Fill in any job applications with the words “will explain in interview” in the blanks regarding felonies and misdemeanors. This not only allows you to present the information personally, but also allows for confidentiality should someone unauthorized see your application.

Wait for the interviewer to bring up the subject of the misdemeanor rather than bringing it up first thing. Be honest about the misdemeanor, providing how and when it occurred, without going into details. Do not lie about the event or try to cover it up because a thorough background check can reveal information you tried to omit.

Explain to the interviewer how the offense made a positive impact on your life or how it caused you to change for the better. Cite examples of the changes you’ve made, such as volunteering, taking on more responsibility, going back to school or looking for a new job to associate with new people.

Tell the interviewer about any new skills you’ve learned or elements of your life that have improved to make you a better candidate for the job.

Avoid allowing the conversation about your misdemeanor to go on longer than necessary once you’ve conveyed the positives of the event. Highlight how you’re glad the occurrence is behind you, and that you’re ready to move on with your new life, including a new job.

Show the employer your hardworking character, skills and value that you bring to the company and how you can perform the job better than other applicants. Allow the positives of your character and skills to overshadow the knowledge of a misdemeanor as the interview continues.

Tips

  • Misdemeanors from your younger days are often more easily overlooked than indiscretions which occurred as an adult.

References

  • “Mastering the Job Interview and Winning the Money Game”; Kate Wendleton; 2005
  • “Job Interviews for Dummies”; Joyce Lain Kennedy; 2008
  • “How to Interview Like a Pro”; Mary Greenwood; 2010

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images