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I had multiple DUIs (Driving Under the Influence convictions) that happened 12 years ago all within the same time period. I am going to an interview where the job requires a background check. It is for an estate attorney's office.

Even if I'm not asked, do I disclose this information during the interview, being that it will probably be the only chance I have to defend my past? Please help. I'm a nervous wreck.

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    Were you asked about past convictions or traffic violations on the application? Did it give a timeframe (e.g., "In the last 10 years") – Jay Jul 10 at 16:58
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    Which country/state? – solarflare Jul 10 at 23:47
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    Have the convictions been 'spent' (if such a concept exists in your country)? – mattumotu Jul 11 at 8:53
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    What is a DUI conviction? – David Jul 11 at 9:38
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    Can you add a country tag? From the wording, I would guess the USA, but it's better if it's made explicit. – Abigail Jul 11 at 10:39
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I had multiple DUIs that happened 12 years ago all within the same time period. I am going to an interview where the job requires a background check. It is for an estate attorney's office.

Even if I'm not asked, do I disclose this information during the interview, being that it will probably be the only chance I have to defend my past?

Since you already know there will be a background check, and since many background checks would discover multiple DUIs, I think it makes more sense to be up front about it than to let the hiring company be surprised.

This would be particularly so for a law office.

If you get to the offer stage and are ready to sign consent for the background check, just start with "I want to mention something that might show up on the background check...". Talk about what happened. Explain why it won't happen again. Finish with "I always believe it's best to be very honest."

When I'm hiring, I'd much rather the candidate be honest in the beginning than to try and "sneak one by me". I'm sure we can all remember how we felt when someone grudgingly admitted an issue only after being confronted with the evidence.

This won't guarantee that you'll get the job, but in my experience you'll have a better chance (particularly in a law office) by being completely open and honest.

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    Depending on the interviewer, this might even gain you additional points compared to somebody who has an immaculate record. It could be an opportunity to genuinely prove your honesty. – dim Jul 11 at 13:06
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    This approach makes sense. The timing of when you reveal this info is probably important. I would not blurt it out at the beginning of an interview but you idea of mentioning it when getting close to an offer (but before an actual background check) makes sense. – dwizum Jul 11 at 13:19
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Even if I'm not asked, do I disclose this information during the interview, being that it will probably be the only chance I have to defend my past?

If you are not asked I don't see why you have to bring it up.

If they bring it up, answer honestly and defend it as you have planned by now.

  • Thank you very much. This was my original thought behind it. I appreciate your help. – Susan Elaine Jul 10 at 17:31
  • Hey Joe, I am not assuming anything. I think that there is no real need to disclose it if not prompted, but I also say that if prompted OP should be honest and defend... It is likely that it will turn out, and then the company will decide if it's a no go (case in which any defense or justification would be pointless) or if they are willing to ask OP to defend (case where OP should be honest and defend) or best case doesn't show up/ they are ok with it. – DarkCygnus Jul 11 at 0:42
  • @JoeStrazzere I also tried to answer the actual question OP asked (should I say even if they don't ask). If OP had asked if it is likely that it will show up, or how to justify it, it would have been a different scenario with a different answer. Do you think my post can be improved somehow? – DarkCygnus Jul 11 at 0:44
  • @JoeStrazzere Thanks for the feedback, although I think you covered that pretty well on your answer already. – DarkCygnus Jul 12 at 1:51
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If an employer cares about your criminal history, they will ask - formally, in writing usually, as part of an official, signed application. In other cases, the background check authorization form you're presented with will include basic questions such as "have you ever been convicted of an X crime" and will typically allow you to write a description of what happened (which is your chance to defend yourself). Often these official requests for information will be timeboxed (i.e. "in the last 10 years").

Generally, when considering if you should mention something in an interview, a good approach is to focus on the best but prepare for the worst. In other words, when you have opportunities, bring up good things - be able to tie your skills and experience to the position they're trying to fill. But, have a rehearsed answer ready if they ask about bad things such that you're not caught off guard if they do ask about them. There's no reason to implicate yourself by bringing up parts of your past that don't paint you in a positive light.

Also, it's worth doing some research on laws in your jurisdiction. For instance, in the United States, in some states at least, it's illegal to have a policy of rejecting candidates based on criminal history. Other states provide explicit boundaries (i.e. you can reject a candidate if the criminal history is directly related to the job).

  • Thank you very much for your response. I would always answer honestly, if asked. This has been very helpful. – Susan Elaine Jul 10 at 17:28
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IMHO, Biggest question here, do you have a better explanation / defense for these convictions than will be gleaned from dry official paper?

If you want to defend it upfront and explain so it will not be an issue when received from background check, you can definitely do so.

But, if there is nothing more than - "it was 12 years ago and i am different person now" i would not volunteer this information unless asked specifically

Good luck, would be nice to hear the result, please share when applicable

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    If they're attorneys, they'd know the more you try to explain something, you're basically admitting guilt. I just wouldn't explain it other than give factual information. You did the crime and time, and now you don't have anything else other than something that happened 12 years ago. – Dan Jul 12 at 14:48
  • @Dan , That kinda was my point as well, but you put it in better words – Strader Jul 12 at 18:25
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Even if I'm not asked, do I disclose this information during the interview, being that it will probably be the only chance I have to defend my past? Please help. I'm a nervous wreck.

It is not necessary to volunteer this information if they do not ask about it. If they conduct a proper background check it will come to light regardless.

Obviously if they ask during the interview or any stage you should let them know but there is nothing to defend. You were convicted, it was 12 years ago, and you have presumably served your sentence. If they are biased towards your conviction, there is no possible defense you can come up with you convince them otherwise. But don't worry as most reasonable employers will understand and not be influenced by your conviction.

  • Thank you for your response. I would hope they would be understanding. I would always be honest, if asked. If it's meant to be, it will be. I have to be aware that my poor, past life choices will sometimes affect my future. – Susan Elaine Jul 10 at 17:30
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  1. Answer every question put to you honestly. "Have you ever committed a felony" is different from "have you committed a felony in the last 10 years?"
  2. There may be laws in your relevant jurisdictions about what you are required to disclose or legally protected from having to disclose. Research them.
  3. Regarding volunteering information, first find out if the background check has a time limitation on it. Most background checks are limited to 10 years. If it's not stated directly in the documents, then ask.
  4. Once you know the background check's time parameters, volunteer whatever they are likely to find.

Overall, do what is honest and straightforward, without offering information needlessly.

Last: look into getting convictions struck from your record. It is possible this can be done. It may only apply to misdemeanors, and not felonies, but it's still worth looking into it.

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