Employers sort through countless applications and resumes when determining which candidates would be best suited for a job. If you’ve been one of those top candidates selected for an interview, you should feel proud that you have a foot in the door and are a step closer to being hired. Now, you’ll want to put your best foot forward to make yourself stand out from the others.
As a former felon, you may feel as though you have the odds stacked against you. But there are jobs for former felons and Goodwill staff wants to help you find them. Here, we’ll provide you seven ways in which you can prepare for your job interview and set yourself apart from other candidates.
1. Do Your Homework- Perhaps the most important thing you can do to prepare for a job is to research the company and position for which you are being considered. Employers want to know that you’re interested in working for them and that you want this particular job, not just any job. So learn about the company. Is it a large company or a small business? What type of service does this employer offer? Many times you can find this information by doing a simple Google search. Has the company hired individuals with a criminal record in the past and how many jobs for former felons are available? The more you know about the position and your potential employer, the more prepared you will be for your job interview. Knowing what the company does and what will be expected of you will help you better explain why you are the best candidate for the job.
2. Do Even More Homework- You can take your research one step further by finding out more about the person who will be conducting your interview. This can be accomplished simply by placing a phone call to the company or business and asking them ahead of the interview who will be meeting with you. If the company is able to provide the information, then try to find out more about that person. What position does he or she have with the company? Has this person had prior experience with the criminal justice system and if so, in what way?
There are many organizations focused on aiding the formerly incarcerated and many companies that have jobs for former felons. Try to find out if the person interviewing you has a similar background or if the two of you possibly have something in common. It could be anything. Are you from the same hometown? Do you have the same hobbies or interests? If you can’t find this information out beforehand, that’s ok. You can still ask questions about the interviewer during your meeting to show that you’re interested in learning more.
3. Dress to Impress- You’ll want to make a great first impression at your job interview so be sure to be nicely groomed and neatly dressed. If you don’t have proper attire, see if you can borrow clothes from a friend or relative. You can also contact your local Goodwill to see what options are available for you. Looking your best will help you show your potential employer that this job is important to you.
4. Be Confident- You should be polite and respectful during your job interview. You should also be confident in yourself and able to explain why you are the best person for the job. Make eye contact with the person interviewing you. Smile. Let your interviewer know why you are the best person for the position.
Think about your past experience. Are there any trades or skills that you learned while incarcerated that would help you in this job? Are there any classes that you took that would apply to this position? Be confident in who you are and what skills you have. Then let your interviewer know how those skills and talents will help you in this role.
5. Bring Your Resume- You may have already filled out a job application but it’s always a good idea to have a resume in hand at your interview. If you don’t have too much experience, you can fill your resume with your skills, education, and other things that will showcase your unique talents. If you’ve never had a resume before or need some help updating yours, your local Goodwill Job Connection office is ready and willing to help.
6. Be Early- There’s an old saying that to be early is to be on time and to be on time is to be late. Take that mindset into your job interview. Leave in plenty of time to arrive at the interview on schedule. Take into account traffic if you’re driving to the interview or a bus running a few minutes late if you’re taking public transportation. You’ll want to leave enough time to arrive at the scheduled time even if you encounter some delays along the way. If you get to the interview location more than 15 minutes before schedule, it’s a good idea to wait somewhere nearby like a coffee shop. You’ll want to strive to arrive just before your scheduled time.
7. Ask Relevant Questions –Questions are a good way to show your interest in the position and the interviewer. It’s also a good way for you to find out what will be expected of you if hired. It’s your opportunity to find out what a typical day is like in this position. For instance, is it more of an independent position or will you have a team role? Ask important, relevant questions about the job duties and the company. Your interviewer is trying to learn more about you and you should be trying to learn more about this person and the job.
It’s a good idea to be as prepared as possible for your interview. If you need some one-on-one coaching beforehand, make an appointment with your Goodwill Job Connection office. We’ll help you prepare.
Remember, be honest and be yourself. You were called in for the interview so clearly something about you stood out to your prospective employer. There are jobs out there for former felons and by following these tips, you’ll be one step closer to being hired for one of them!