You’re a go-getter with a skill set a mile long. You’re ready to take the next step in your career and you begin job hunting. After applying and interviewing for a position you thought you were a shoe-in for, you get a call back that there were some issues with your background check.
That wild night in college is finally catching up to you. While you thought you blocked it out, there it is again, fresh as the day it happened. Gulp.
Most employers run some type of background check on prospective employees. This helps ensure the right talent is hired. They invest a significant amount of time and money into new hires, so this is just one more step that helps them make the best decision.
Does a black mark on a background check automatically mean a rejection? Not necessarily. It depends on the severity of the offense and how long ago it occurred. Different industries have different standards, and decisions will also vary from one company to the next.
Because it’s really difficult to know what companies will think of a less-than-perfect record, it’s best to address the situation in an honest, reassuring manner. Keep these five interview tips in mind to present yourself in the best light possible:
- Never lie
Tempted to lie? It will come back to haunt you. Employers have access to more screening tools than ever before, and the truth will come out. You’ll get fired and your reputation will be tarnished.
- Only give necessary details
Practice addressing questions about your past in a mock interview with another person. Answer questions directly but avoid giving too many details. Many are unnecessary and only add focus to the black mark.
- Offer assurance
Be straightforward and state how you understand this mark may be concerning. Then offer a statement of assurance that you have changed and provide examples that prove it. This is a natural way to steer the conversation back toward your achievements rather than your mistakes.
- Note body language
It’s not only what you say, it’s how you act when you say it. Stay confident yet not cocky. Maintain eye contact; failure to do so can make it seem like you’re hiding something. Don’t be overly animated or sluggish. Always present yourself in a positive, professional manner.
- Focus on plans
The past is history. You must convey your plans for the future so the interviewer knows this is where your focus is today. Note your education, training and plans for your career. Your enthusiasm for the future should be apparent.
Bonus tip: If possible, avoid addressing negative issues related to your background check at the beginning or end of the interview. Hiring managers have a tendency to remember the first impression you make at a meeting, as well as the last points discussed. Focus on the positive during these moments.