The purpose of this “talk” is to tell the truth about your conviction and to emphasize that you’re not the same person you used to be and that you have turned your life around. And the evidence is displayed in your turn around packet for employers to clearly see. Your goal is to engage their interest and empathy, to shine a light on how you’d make a good employee and hopefully be offered a job. As in the case of the turnaround packet, the idea for the turnaround talk originally came from Larry Robbin, a nationally-known expert in the field of workforce development.
Things you might want to say
Here are things to consider, as you think of what you’re going to say:
- Plan for the fact that once the interview has progressed sufficiently and you’ve also established rapport with the hiring manager, say something like, “Before we move on, I just wanted to let you know about my life situation and give you a little bit of information about myself.” Then lead into your turnaround talk.
- Explain your situation. Maybe your parents stopped supporting you as a teenager and you ended up homeless. Or you did something without thinking, but learned your lesson and won’t do it again. Or you hung around with the wrong crowd but don’t do so anymore.
- Give a brief explanation of the facts. Think of what you did and rephrase it in more gentle terms. Instead of talking about burglary, say you took some things you shouldn’t have taken. If you were a drug addict, say you had a substance abuse problem and, if true, you went through a recovery program and are committed to the maintenance of your recovery. If you killed someone, say you took a life.
- Express the fact that you’re deeply sorry for your crime and you understand how it affected the victim, their family, your family and yourself.
- Tell the hiring manager what you learned from the experience and how you turned your life around. Show them the turnaround packet and go through all of your accomplishments before, during and after incarceration.
- Ask them if they have any questions, and tell them you’ll be happy to answer them.
Practice your turnaround talk
Carefully prepare your talk and practice it over and over again, so as not to sound memorized or rehearsed. And delivering it sincerely from your heart and effectively should help the hiring manager see that you have learned from your experience, worked hard to improve yourself and are ready to be a productive and valuable employee.