After reading your response to the women with 2 DUIs, I was hoping you could give me some insight. Here is my story:

I graduated college in December 2004. I accepted a job right away. I was 23 years old at the time. 3 months into my job, I got a DUI. I jumped through all the loops and have not had a problem with drinking since then. The night I did drive under the influence, I had very poor judgment. It definitely was a profound learning experience that I will never let happen again.

Three years later and I am ready to look for a new job. I have been asked to be interviewed by a great company, and they sent me a formal application. Of course one of the questions included is around if I have had any convictions other than a minor traffic offense. Of course I have, and I do plan on disclosing that I got a DUI.

My question is how much will this affect my chance to get the position? Do employers truly not judge, especially if I have had a clean record since?

Employers aren’t supposed to let a conviction affect their decision to hire someone unless that conviction is related to the job. Supposed to is the operative phrase. Will they? Hard to say.

The conviction was 4 years ago and you’ve been good (or not caught!) since. We’ll assume the former. This shows you realized your mistake and are determined not to repeat it. That said, one DUI conviction shows exceedingly poor judgment on your part (which you know).

Personally, if you were my top candidate I wouldn’t let this affect my decision. In fact, I don’t think this type of information should be revealed to the hiring manager. It should be placed on the application and the recruiter should only bring it to the attention of the hiring manager if the job involves driving or operating heavy equipment or something related. I think this should be the case for all convictions.

There are tons of reasons to not hire someone. It’s easy to say, “It’s not because of your old DUI conviction that we’re not offering you the job, it’s because your skill A isn’t as good as another candidate’s.” (Not that anyone tells you why they aren’t hiring you, they just don’t hire you, but if you were to sue, that would come up. I don’t advise suing, by the way. Suck it up and keep looking. That’s my motto!)

I hope you get this job, and I hope you continue not to drink and drive.

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5 thoughts on “Judging

  1. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with this type of issue, as it would be a difficult recruiting situation. I have always worked in organizations where a clean Criminal Record is a requirement of employment, simply because of our industry and the type of work that we do. We have many legislative constraints that do not allow us to hire anyone with a criminal conviction (for which they were not pardoned).

    Could you look into whether or not you would qualify for a pardon? The process is long (in Canada anyway), but may be an avenue to consider for the future.

  2. Our apps have the conviction question on it, and I do see it, but I don’t really think too much about it, unless it’s a violent crime or theft.

    Any offer I make is contingent on an extensive background check, which goes through almost every aspect of the applicant’s life, but that’s between the applicant and the background people. All I ever hear is passed or not passed.

    So, I’d say answer the questions honestly and completely, but don’t volunteer extra information. I’ve had candidates want to talk extensively about their conviction, but I’m not the right person, so I cut them off. I don’t want it to be an issue if they aren’t selected, so I don’t want to hear it!

  3. Evil has shared excellent advice. Let me try answering this using a different perspective. Here’s how I would evaluate the situation, based on what you’ve told us.

    If you did not disclose the DUI, I would find out about it and your lie would be reason enough not to consider you further.

    If I see DUI(s) on a record it raises issues of judgment and maturity for me. So if I see one or more I start looking at other things.

    If there is only one DUI, and there are no other indicators of bad judgment, substance abuse issues or lack of maturity, I would agree with Hook. One DUI is not a reason to see you as unfit, especially if it occurred four years ago.

    But I’ll still look more closely at your application. I’ll look at your pre-employment credit check to see if that tells me anything about judgment. I’ll make sure my client asks you questions to get at judgment/maturity. I’ll make sure to ask how you dealt with it and what you learned. I’ll Google you and look on MySpace and Facebook.

    In other words, the one DUI will make me look closer at some things than I might otherwise. It’s likely to get me to scrutinize your whole package more intently. But one DUI, by itself, won’t be a problem.

  4. How do you avoid retaliation lawsuits? The true answer is by a bit by luck. Despite all measures that some employers take, the inevitable fact is that some employees will file suit regardless.

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