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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How DO you answer?

A recent post on Veteran Careers at was entitled "Handle the Stress Interview".  There are many tacts that interviewers take to determine whether a candidate will be able to handle the new position.  Reading that article lead to this thought - How DO you answer the tougher interview questions like - Why were you fired? OR Have you ever been convicted of a felony? What is this gap in your employment?

If that firing lead to the gap in your employment because of an intimate relationship with the penal system, you need to know how to handle an interview effectively.  KCDEE offers a workshop to help with that. 

Not everyone is as fortunate as Martha Stewart, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, former politicians, or Robert Downey Jr. to have enough money or talent to pick right back up in a position that they held prior to being incarcerated. Most individuals who have an offense on their record will have to start over in the job market, let alone at the bottom rung of a career ladder. Often there are certain jobs that ex-offenders may no longer hold depending upon the offense they committed. Once you have established the types of jobs you will be seeking, you may want to review and attend some of the other career skills workshops offered by KCDEE.

When you are ready to begin filling out job applications and, hopefully, going on job interviews, here are a few tips to help you overcome the obstacles related to your previous offense.

  1. Always tell the truth on your application. The truth, however, can be stated in the best possible way. For example, a question on the application asks “Have you been convicted of a felony in the past 5 years?” Your conviction was 7 years ago, you can truthfully answer NO. If it was, then you need to answer YES, but provide an explanation that includes your regret and what positive things you have done with that time.
  2. Don’t leave unexplained gaps in your resume. Employers look at consistency in employment to find a potential employee who will help them meet their goals. Any gap raises a red flag and can often cause your resume or application to be put in the “reject” pile. Learning how to properly word a period of incarceration can make all of the difference between being seen for an interview or being bypassed.
  3. Use a Functional resume approach. When you use this type of resume, you are able to highlight your skills rather than the chronology of your employment.
  4. Offer a letter of Explanation. If you are fortunate to have an interview scheduled, you will need to explain your offense in person. If you don’t have an interview but are asked for more details about your offense, you should have a letter of explanation available that may be provided to a potential employer. The letter should include information about benefits the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service offer to employers who hire ex-offenders.
  5. At the interview. Offer, at the appropriate time, a three minute incarceration speech. The speech should key on three points – the mistake you made, why you exhibited poor judgment, and assure them of the changes you have made.
One of our biggest success stories is about a gentleman who was convicted of trafficking marijuana. After he served his 6 ½ year sentence, he returned to society with a high school diploma and no marketable skills. KCDEE provided the mechanism and funding for tuition that allowed him to start over. He has since completed an expedited computer related training, a Bachelor’s degree, and a Master’s degree. Throughout his education, he was progressively moving forward up the career ladder. Today he has experience and most importantly a future.

If you would like to register for our workshop please email (for Elgin, IL) (for North Aurora, IL) .


  1. How to answer questions in an interview, especially then, when employer is Younger than you..I asked this question on many sites but did not get any response yet.

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  2. Confident and Honesty both plays major role in any kind of field... Remember, many of the employers look for the confident candidates not the Candidates with Degrees... ;) :)