Address Your Past

address past of formerly incarcerated

Addressing Your Past

Employers use background checks to confirm qualifications.  It’s better, to be honest upfront and possibly lose some opportunities than to lose someone’s trust after you are hired.

Read the tips below to help you through the process.


Goodwill Address Your Past Tips


  • Keep it simple and emphasize the positive
  • If asked to give information about your past (convictions, incarceration, drug and/or alcohol abuse), avoid telling “your side of the story”; even if you were
  • wrongly convicted, you will leave a negative impression
  • Keep focused on what you have to offer the employer, not your personal story
  • Offer details about your work history that highlight your strengths
  • Demonstrate how you plan to or have turned your life around
  • Focus the interview on the current activities and future plans
  • List your goals and plans for the future
  • Highlight the changes you have made along with your new lifestyle


  • Be honest; never lie to an interviewer or put false information on your resume or application; this will disqualify you when the employer does a background check or checks your references
  • Assure the interviewer that you have learned from your past mistakes
  • Talk about your commitment to being a success and that you are not a risky hire
  • Understand the concerns or hesitations of hiring you and offer reassurance


  • Make a good first and last impression; avoid talking about negative issues at the very beginning or the end of an interview
  • If possible, try to address your criminal history in the middle of the interview, and end with a summary of your qualifications and interest in the job; bring up your past early in the interview process before you are asked from the interviewer
  • Appear confident and open to answering any questions they may have


  • Write a short summary of your past
  • Answer truthfully and be brief
  • Make a list of things you have learned from your mistakes
  • Get an outside perspective to help you think through your responses
  • Rehearse and share with your peers or support systems or support