Legalities and Tough Application QuestionsPage address: https://www.mnsu.edu/cdc/jobsandinternships/legalities_and_tough_application_questions.html
“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere.”
~Frank A. Clark quotes
Sometimes in the application process, it is necessary for employers to conduct background checks on individuals, as well as ask questions about arrests or criminal records. Honesty is always the best policy and questions that come up should be handled with tact.
If you do have something in your past, it is important to prepare how you are going to handle this with an employer ahead of time.
Note that you do not have to disclose anything if the application or process does not specifically call for it. Do some research regarding your record and gain an understanding of what is on there and how things are classified. For instance, if the application asks if you have been convicted of a felony, you do not need to say yes if you were charged but not convicted of a felony.
To gain a better understanding of what might come up in a criminal background check, you can request a free copy of your Minnesota Public Criminal History report by going to: https://cch.state.mn.us/. (Other states may have a similar system, please check your state's government website for additional information.)
Note: Background checks can pull other information such as court records, credit records, driving records, etc. in addition to your public criminal record. If you are concerned about any of these areas, be sure to gain information about those records as well.
We recommend talking to a trusted source in your field as well as someone in the Career Development Center to prepare and practice your response to difficult questions both in your application as well as an interview.
When should you disclose this information about yourself?
The best advice is to try to find ways for the employer to know you on a more personal level before you disclose.
If the information is asked for up front in an application, you need to provide the information at that point. However, if you can make a personal phone call to the hiring manager to let them know you are applying and have a criminal record but would like to explain the circumstances before they review your application, that would be appropriate.
If you get through the interview process without the employer asking any questions regarding your background, but they will be conducting a background check in the next stages of the process, you should disclose that information first, in person if possible, before they discover it on their own.
- Guide to answering questions from employers about criminal records or arrests - http://www.ncdsv.org/images/KnowYourRights--AnsweringQuestionsfromEmployersAboutRecordsArrests.pdf
- Video on what is included in a background check- http://video.about.com/jobsearch/Background-Check.htm
- General link about background checks: http://jobsearch.about.com/cs/backgroundcheck/a/background.htm