I shared this story over the weekend on Instagram but I thought it was worth sharing here as well. I had reached out to a candidate for a phone interview for a commercial cleaning position. The position was a manual labor role that didn’t require a ton of experience but the candidate had listed about two years of cleaning experience with the State of CT.
A couple of things stood out with this candidate during our call. First, he actually answered. I get a lot of candidates who schedule phone interviews, get reminders the day before yet they still miss the phone call or answer the phone as if I’m a robocall. Second, he was incredibly polite and professional. Often candidates who are applying for general labor positions don’t always present well on the phone. Most significantly, the candidate did a really great job connecting his work experience to the position….here’s how.
As most phone interviews go, I asked the candidate a bit about his previous cleaning experience. He went on to say that he did mopping, buffing and trash removal as well as some prep work in a kitchen. I was super curious as to what department within the state he worked and so I asked and in the most honest and open way the candidate said “It was when I was incarcerated ma’am.”
Here is this candidate, recently out of jail who is trying to get back on his feet. He took the skills that he learned while away and owned his experience which was impressive. Most candidates with criminal histories tend to shy away from disclosing their backgrounds and rightfully so. For a lot of employers, the disclosure of a criminal history puts a big red x on candidates' resumes even if they don’t want to admit it or their policies say otherwise. He was honest and it allowed his character to shine through. Now I don’t recommend being honest in the sense of all the reasons why you hate your previous employer but I mean being honest in the sense of humility.
This candidate reminded me how everyone is human and we all deserve a chance at solid and reliable employment. Though I couldn’t offer him an in person interview (driver’s license issue), I plan to stay in touch and hope that I can help him find employment.