Turnaround Talk

Dealing with your record – The turnaround talk

Once you have your turnaround packet together, you’ll want to prepare a turnaround talk to go with it. 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.

The turnaround talk is designed to turn the employer’s way of thinking around, so they will understand where you’re coming from, be empathetic to your situation—and, hopefully, ultimately offer you a job. 

This is a very important part of your interview, and you should spend a significant amount of time and effort planning what you’re going to say.

Planning your turnaround talk

Here are things to consider, as you think of what you’re going to include in your turnaround talk:

  • Plan for the fact that once the interview has progressed sufficiently and you’ve 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 use 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.

Things you can say

Here are some examples of things you can say (only if heartfelt and true):

“I had a problem.” Share enough detail to help them understand that it was not work-related, assuming it wasn’t. Make it a brief explanation with no trigger words. Show extreme remorse—understanding what you did and understanding what you did in terms of the family, the victim and yourself.

“I paid my debt to society by being incarcerated.”

“My crime does not define me.”

“I have been rehabilitated.” Convince them that it won’t happen again, because you are a changed person.

“I am now clean and sober (if it was a drug or alcohol problem) and am going to NA or AA meetings each week.”

“If you have any questions about what I have said please ask.”