Applying for a new job is stressful enough, let alone when you have a DUI conviction in your background that you hope no one will find out about. Your potential new employer; however, will ask you about your criminal record and thus you must be ready with an answer. The following information will help you explain your DUI conviction as you move through the job application and interview process.
Do I have to disclose my DUI?
Having a DUI on your record is not the end of the world. Many people with long and successful careers have had a DUI in their past, yet it hasn’t prevented them from moving onward and upward. Most job applications ask directly whether you have been convicted of any crimes (in fact many potential employers now even ask whether you have ever been merely arrested). In doing this the potential employer is attempting to prevent any wiggle room when it comes to the information you must divulge about your prior run-ins with the law. Since you are human, however, you will be tempted to simply not disclose your prior DUI. Failing to do so when asked on an application about your prior criminal history is a lie. The fact of the matter is that the potential employer is going to find out about it anyway as most have extensive resources regarding background checks. If you fail to disclose your DUI and it is discovered by the potential employer, you won’t be hired, plain and simple. Why would a potential employer take a chance on an candidate that lies to it even before being hired? Worse yet, if you do not disclose your DUI and are hired, when your employer subsequently finds out about your DUI conviction, whether its 2 weeks, 2 months, or 2 years later, you will certainly be terminated. For the length of your employment, you’ll anxiously be waiting for the other shoe to drop.
What Will the Potential Employer Do When I Disclose my DUI?
Each potential employer is different thus each will look at a DUI differently. The significance, or lack thereof, a potential employer places on a DUI depends on the industry, company culture, and type of job to which you’re applying. Some potential employers will not be concerned by a DUI. They may not ask you about it even after you have disclosed it. Others will refuse to hire someone with ANYTHING on his or her record, let alone a DUI.
Many potential employers though will fall somewhere in between. When compared to other candidates with clean records, a DUI will not help you; however, if you are highly qualified in other ways, it can be overlooked. In this case, they will probably ask you about it in the interview.
How Do I Talk about my DUI?
If on the application the potential employer provides you an opportunity to explain, or in other words, downplay your DUI conviction, do it! Provide all the information you can about the community service and other volunteer work you did as a result of the DUI. Explain the lessons learned and how you’ve changed, grown, and bettered yourself since the incident.
If you receive an interview, you should expect a question about your DUI .at the interview, and prepare for it ahead of time. Think of it as just one more of the tough interview questions you will have to face, like “What is the biggest mistake you made?” and “Why are you leaving your current employer?” You can plan for these questions and give a strong response.
The best tactic in discussing your DUI is to say it was a mistake and that you learned your lesson. If it was long ago, you might point out that you were young and did something foolish. Even if it was recent, you can tell them what you learned from your DUI. The point is to show that it’s in the past, and move on. You are a strong, qualified candidate regardless of your DUI.
Remember; however, DO NOT talk about the DUI unless you are asked about it. Remember, it is the past and you have moved on from that silly mistake; therefore it is not something you worry or even think about. If you received an interview, the potential employer is interested in you in spite of the DUI. If it doesn’t care about your DUI, neither should you.
Can I Get my DUI Off my Record so I Don’t have to Disclose It?
Yes. Under Pennsylvania’s expungement law Section 9122.1 you can have your DUI conviction expunged. Having your DUI conviction expunged means it will be sealed from potential employers so that you will not have to disclose it. Expungement of a DUI is not an easy matter and its recommended you hire an attorney familiar with the legal process so that it is done quickly and correctly. The best solution, of course, is to never have to explain your DUI because it doesn’t in fact exist! A DUI lawyer may be able to keep it off your record in the first place, as s/he may be able to get the charge dropped, have it downgraded to a lesser offense, or even outright win your case. In any of those circumstances, you’ll never have to explain a DUI to a potential employer.