Why are you here

This question may seem like an obvious one. Finding employment as an ex-offender will require a good answer. Employers will most likely ask you outright about two issues which will stand out during the interview:

  • The large employment gap because of your incarceration
  • The reasoning for a gap and how it will affect the employer

While the second issue may not be allowed a direct question in some states, it will surely be on the mind of the employer. The first issue will also need to be explained along the way. Using a brief explanation of these past issues will move them out of the way. Don't try to hide them as they do come into common knowledge at some point.

During an interview you should try to place the most emphasis on the two following issues:

  • Selling your skills - this is what you bring to the job which will help you be a valued asset to the employer
  • Using the past - your past experiences and training can be used to highlight your abilities and value to an employer

When answering questions regarding your history, do not focus or remain too long on issues dealing with being an ex-offender. Employment as a valuable member of the company is the goal. Selling your skills, abilities and training in a positive light will help you use the past to move beyond any gaps in employment.

The other side of this question, why you are applying to this company, should be easy to answer if you have done the following things before applying:

  • Focused on the career you wish to have
  • Found companies and employers within your chosen career path to seek employment with

While many experts will tell the ex-offender to take any job, you should make most of the effort to find work in a field you are familiar with and have skills and training to sell to an employer. Using the past knowledge in proven work environments can help greatly improve the success of your job search.

Another consideration which may help with potential employers will be the ability to use the past and explain your continuing efforts and goals which improve your skills and training. Selling yourself to an employer will be made easier when they see you are working towards gaining new knowledge or abilities to help your employability.

Answering the question of why you are at the interview will require clearly focused, forward-looking, responses which not only show you have used the past to learn but that you can also provide required abilities and skills which the employer is looking for.