How to Recruit Candidates with Criminal Records

Resume Management SystemHave you been faced with a situation that deals with an applicant and their criminal background? While it might not happen often, occasionally, you’ll come across an issue like this. What do you do? Refuse to hire, based on the fact that they’ve been charged and convicted of a crime? Hope for the best and hire them because you’re worried about being accused of discrimination?

The way you handle this can seem more stressful than it really is. There are several things to consider and lots of information that should be collected before a decision is made. If you’ve recently conducted a background check and found that one of your applicants has a record, consider the following, before making any decisions. If your hiring tasks are getting out of hand, know that our free resume management system can help you. Click here to start recruiting easier!

Criminal records can follow an individual around for years. Even after the sentence has been served, a criminal background check will actually show records from twenty or more years ago. Deciding whether or not to hire a criminal can be quite difficult. There are, however, a few things you can do to ensure you’re making the right recruiting decision.

How long as it been since their conviction?

If it’s only been one to five years since the candidate was charged and/or convicted of a crime, you may want to pass on hiring this individual. While people do change, it often happens after ten to fifteen years, in most cases.

Is the candidate a repeat offender?

How many criminal charges or convictions are on their record? More than one might lead us to believe that they’re not yet ready to enter the workforce as a changed person. However, if one conviction was twenty years ago and the other ten, you might want to consider interviewing them before making a decision.

Have you checked EEOC guidelines?

In 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) changed their requirements and guidance regarding criminal background checks. To ensure you’re compliant with their guidelines, check with their website or contact a representative to ensure you don’t end up in court over an issue with recruiting.

What was the applicant charged with?

Many times, a person that received a DUI ten years ago learned a valuable life lesson and has vowed never to intentionally break the law again. They are also well aware that their shortcomings might forever haunt them. With that in mind, consider following through with an interview. Talk with the candidate about their criminal record. Give them a chance to explain and talk about the lesson they learned from it. You can also discuss your reservations about hiring them and possibly work through it as well.

Assessing Individuals with a Criminal Record


Resume Management SystemBecause of the changes made to the EEOC guidelines in 2012, assessing candidates with individual factors is key. This means you might have to ask specific questions according to the type of criminal record and when the charges and conviction took place.

You will find a few sample assessment options here:

  1. Is there any additional information that should be considered before making your decision to hire the applicant?
  2. How old was the candidate during the time of this situation?
  3. If they were incarcerated, how old were they when released?
  4. What kind of work history do they have prior to the legal trouble?
  5. Has the applicant held a another job post-conviction?
  6. Was there any criminal behavior to note during their post-conviction career?
  7. Did they go through any rehab, continuing education or training after their conviction?

Also be sure to check their references, both professional and personal in hopes of acquiring even more information about their character post-conviction. Also inquire about their ability to fulfill the available position.

In general, the more information you acquire about an applicant the better off you are; whether they have a criminal history or not. Keep that in mind as you move forward through your recruiting process. If you come across a candidate that seems well qualified and ready to work, but does have a criminal record, consider the information found within this article. Make your decision based on the information gathered, both from the individual, their professional references and their personal references.

With this full range of information, you’ll be able to make the best decision for your company’s needs. Give the candidate time to explain their conviction, what they’ve learned from it and then offer them feedback on your thoughts. Talking things through, knowing all the facts and ensuring you make a choice that works best for your business will help you feel great about your decision.

We hope this information helps you better understand how to handle a situation like this, should it arise while you’re recruiting new employees. Have you already dealt with something similar to this? If so, how did you handle it? Did you use any of the tips above?

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