Psychology, Crime & Law ( IF 1.193 ) Pub Date : 2021-04-05 , DOI: 10.1080/1068316x.2021.1909018 Jessica Graber, Emily M. Zitek
There has been a recent push toward placing restrictions on when and how employers can ask about job applicants’ criminal records. In our research, we asked hypothetical employers to evaluate job applicants so we could examine whether certain ‘ban the box’ practices increase the chances that formerly incarcerated individuals find jobs. Our results showed that an applicant with a drug conviction was more likely to be hired if his record was revealed after an interview rather than on the job application and if he explained the unusualness of his offense rather than if he provided no explanation (Studies 1 and 3). Further, we found that an interviewed applicant who explained his record was similarly likely to be hired regardless of whether he volunteered information about his record or it was discovered through a background check (Study 2). Finally, when equally qualified applicants were being considered at the initial application stage, the applicant without a criminal record was preferred even if the applicant with a record explained it (Study 4). These results indicate the importance of restricting access to criminal record information until after an applicant has been interviewed and in allowing the applicant to explain the unusualness of the offense.