Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

Spark a Conversation: Criminal Records and Video Interviews

Here at Spark Hire, we want to help companies utilize the power of online video to find the best candidates. We get a lot of questions from readers about best practices for using online video in the hiring process. These posts will address those questions about how to find your next superstar employee.

Question: How can I find out about a candidate’s criminal record in the video interview? – Sara from Washington D.C.

When you have to fill a position, you are going to come into contact with all kinds of people. Each of those people have their own set of challenges, but for an employer it an be very difficult or challenging to interview someone with a criminal record. While you want to get certain information from them, you want to make sure you are not being discriminatory. Asking certain questions, or coming to a hiring decision based on discriminatory reasons, can land you in a deal of trouble. Basically, hiring managers need to be sure they are compliant with all regulations- generally the regulations that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sets (EEOC).

For starters, you don’t want to ask interview questions about a candidate’s criminal history or record unless it is relevant to the job. Legally, you can inquire about a felony conviction but you cannot make discriminatory comments on the subject. Once it has been brought up in the job interview, be sure to ask the candidate to explain their past and what they learned from their previous mistakes. When you are in a video interview with these candidates, you want to look for someone who can explain their situation without getting defensive. It’s part of their past so they should be able to talk about it calmly. Plus, this is a job interview so they should be prepared to tackle the question.

Even though this candidate has a criminal record, that doesn’t mean that is the only thing you should be focusing on in the video interview. You need to tackle that portion, true, but you also need to discuss their skill set and past experience as well. What did they do in their career after their conviction? Is this their first job after that or have they been working since? What other companies have they worked for in the past and do they have the passion for this industry?

Video interviewing a candidate with a criminal record can be a bit challenging, but it’s something that all hiring managers need to be prepared for. You will meet many different people in the hiring process and those with criminal records are not exempt.

Do you have a question you need answered? Spark a conversation with the Spark Hire team by submitting your question to blog(at) or in the comments below.

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Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 6,000+ customers in over 100 countries.