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Lesley E. Schneider

Research Findings

Do criminal record questions on job applications prevent people with records from applying?

March 18, 2024

Getting a job can be a challenge for anyone, especially in a tough economy. But for people with criminal records, the task of finding a job is particularly difficult. Experiments show that job applicants with criminal records have lower chances of getting an interview or job than those without records, and that the chances are even lower for people of color. While 8% of adult men have a felony criminal record, that number is 33% for Black men. Thus, many employers’ unwillingness to provide a second chance by hiring those with criminal records is especially impactful for Black people.

Employers often obtain criminal record information about applicants during the application process. Some ask criminal record questions on job applications or request formal criminal background checks, with a warning of a background check typically stated right on the application. Thus, when an applicant with a criminal record goes to apply for a job, they often see on the application itself that their record will become known to the employer.

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