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“Have You Ever Been Arrested?”

If you’re interviewing for a sensitive position where criminal history can be used to determine your trustworthiness, employers are allowed to ask if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime. What they can’t ask, however, is if you’ve ever been arrested in general. That being said, Peter Studner, author of Super Job Search IV:

  • The Complete Manual for Job Seekers
  • Career Changers


suggests it might be information worth volunteering in some circumstances. Especially if know they’ll doing a thorough background check:

In these kinds of cases where a future employer might uncover prior arrests, it is important to discuss the incident up front and point out that it was a thing of the past, never to be repeated. The more serious the offense, the more convincing you have to be.

So while it’s illegal for them to ask if you’ve been arrested, you might still have an opportunity to demonstrate integrity and show that you can learn from your mistakes. It all depends on the situation, so make sure you’re prepared beforehand.