When you apply for a job, your potential employer will want to know about your criminal record, if any. If you have a DUI charge in your past they will ask about it and you have to be prepared to answer. Here is our complete guide to explaining DUI’s on job applications and in interviews.
Do you have to disclose a DUI?
If you have a DUI on your record, you may be tempted to simply not mention it. But if an application directly asks about your criminal history, you should disclose it. Not doing so is lying, which always looks bad to employers.
Often, an employer will run a background check before hiring you. Your DUI will appear in this check. If you lied, the company will find out—and they will lose trust for you. A recruiter or hiring manager will almost never hire someone they know lied to them.
Worse, the employer may hire you and then find out about your DUI. If this happens, they will almost certainly terminate you.
What happens when you disclose a DUI?
Different employers look at DUI’s differently. It depends on the industry, the company culture, and the type of job you’ve applied for. Some employers will not bat an eye at a DUI. They may not ask you about it even after you disclosed it. Others will patently refuse to hire someone with a DUI on their record. This is legal—it is considered acceptable for them to pass over you because of your criminal history.
Many employers, however, will fall somewhere in between. They may consider the DUI a red flag, but still consider hiring you. If you are highly qualified in other ways, they might be willing to overlook the DUI. In this case, they will probably ask you about it in the interview.
How do you talk about your DUI?
You should be expecting 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.
The Law Dictionary offers several other tips for discussing a DUI:
- Explain any DUI school or treatment you went through, and emphasize the change in perspective you’ve had.
- Talk about community service or volunteer work you’ve done, and how you’ve decided to give back to the community since your DUI.
Most importantly, don’t bring up your DUI unless the interviewer brings it up first. If they called you in for an interview they are obviously interested in you as a candidate. They may not care about the DUI at all, or have already decided it isn’t relevant—so don’t make a big deal out of it. If they never ask you, you don’t have to explain yourself.
Can you keep a DUI off your record?
Even if you’ve been convicted of a DUI, you can eventually get it expunged. Expunging a DUI means it will be removed from your criminal record (even if it is still on your driving record) and you no longer have to disclose it to employers. A DUI can only be expunged once you have served all penalties and probation, and is best done with the help of a DUI lawyer.
The best solution to explaining a DUI, however, is to just keep it off your record in the first place. If you are currently facing DUI charges, remember that a good attorney may be able to get the charge dropped, downgrade it to something less serious than DUI, or even win your case for you. That means you never have to explain it to anybody.
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