QUESTION: How much should I disclose about an old DUI (more than twenty years) to a prospective employer?
For any offense, don’t try to talk your way out of it by blaming someone or something else. Instead, if someone inquires about it, tell them what you’ve learned from it since then, especially if it was a long time ago. Truth is gold in interviews. If there are no other offenses since then, that speaks volumes as well.
Honesty is always best when it comes to background, because they will run a check. DUIs may or may not fall off your record after a certain period. You can address it proactively by saying you have DUI from more than 20 years ago. You have since addressed the issues surrounding it, and you have had a clean record ever since. You needn’t go into details.
If asked on a job application or in an interview, you must tell the truth. If they ask for any details, continue telling the truth—It was 20 years ago. And I hope you can continue telling the truth: I was much younger; I made a bad mistake. I learned my lesson. I never did it again.
It depends. Know the laws that pertain to DUIs in your state to help you determine if it will need to be disclosed. Consult an attorney, if unclear. Generally speaking, if it is not asked, do not offer the details. If a background check is required, you may need to disclose that it will come up since HR professionals prefer proactive transparency versus reactive justification.
If the offense was a felony and you are asked to “check the box” on the application, you should disclose the conviction and date. (Unlike your resume, the application is a legal document.) If the offense was a misdemeanor, do not disclose it until you are negotiating a job offer and facing a background check. Keep facts to a minimum and present it as a learning experience that was never repeated.
Guidelines for honesty and candor in employment applications: 1) Never directly lie on an application, 2) check state laws to see if they contain relevant provisions that are helpful, 3) never volunteer adverse information that is not specifically requested, and 4) assess the relevancy of information you propose to hide. As just one example, driving records may not be relevant to remote positions.
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