Advice for Helping Formerly Incarcerated Clients Answer “The Felony Question” During a Job Interview
Date:  04-04-2014

STRIDE teaches convicted felons the “Three R’s” of making a positive impression on a potential employer
Even the best qualified candidate for a job is liable to feel some tension during an interview with a potential employer. But, for those with a felony conviction such an experience can be downright terrifying.

Much rides on the ability of a formerly incarcerated person to become gainfully employed. Studies have shown that newly released inmates who are able to find a steady job are less likely to recidivate. Too often a lack of employment is the main reason ex-inmates resort back to their previous criminal life style in order to support themselves.

Although the majority of people getting out of prison want to find employment, employers don’t always want to hire those with a criminal record. The reentrant knows that if he or she is fortunate enough to get a job interview the “F” (Felony) question” is sure to be asked about one’s past criminal history. Just the thought is enough to make a reentrant’s heat race with anxiety.

STRIDE, a Connecticut organization dedicated to helping inmates successfully reintegrate back into the community offers a program that helps take the fear out of answering the “F” question.

Sarah Therrien, a career specialist at STRIDE, writes of the organization’s “Three R’s” classes at the Niantic, Connecticut Correctional Institution . The classes are designed to help an inmate become more comfortable explaining a felony conviction during a job interview. The three R’s stand for Responsibility, Regret and Repair.

The following article is posted with permission from STRIDE. To learn more about STRIDE click here.

The Three R’s: The Felony Question Formula

The job interview process is not an easy one. And while most people will struggle in an interview at one point or another, ex-offenders have another hurdle in front of them. They often are faced with answering the felony question.

The STRIDE classes at York Correctional Institution and Niantic Annex Correctional are now working on their answers to this question. By following a simple formula, participants are able to take ownership of their conviction, receive valuable feedback from staff and classmates, and practice their answer until they feel comfortable and confident in their response. The formula we use is, “The Three R’s: Responsibility, Regret, Repair.”


Participants are told to take responsibility for their conviction. By taking responsibility and giving an explanation for their actions, it communicates to the interviewer that they understand why they acted in that way, they accept it, and have grown from it. This section should be brief, but give enough information to satisfy the interviewers need to know the details of the incident.


In this section participants are able to describe the feelings they experienced as a result of their conviction and their actions leading to that point. This gives them an opportunity express how sorry they are for hurting their family and friends, affecting their community, and being away from their children during their period of incarceration.


In the final section participants explain all of the positive things they have done, are doing, and are planning on doing since their conviction. Items here typically include: school, programs and volunteer work among other things. The most time should be spent on developing this section and the interviewer should be left on a positive note after this question is complete.