"The research will give us a better understanding of the process these folks experience as they come out of incarceration and try to do the right things so they don’t go back to prison," added Porter.
Porter has a criminal justice background. He received his master’s degree in criminal justice and began a PhD in criminology, before moving into business administration.
“As organizational scholars, we don’t even think about this population, and I think we’ve missed an important segment of employees and potential employees, simply because so many people have felony convictions,” he said. “Whether or not an individual has actually been incarcerated, a felony conviction has implications for hiring. We’ve learned through our research that a felony conviction can change the tenor of a job interview just like that. It’s almost like a switch just flips.”
“One of the more interesting things we learned is what happens in the interview when the felony conviction comes up-- that moment when the interviewer’s attitudes toward an ex-offender seem to change. The interviewer might become more dismissive or rush through the rest of the interview,” said Porter.
So, Porter wondered, what does this mean for the average employer? Are there conversations with recruiters about the appropriate way to handle a candidate who has a felony conviction?
“Managers aren’t specifically trained on how to conduct an interview or how to maintain a certain level of dignity and respect toward someone who reveals a felony conviction. Ex-offenders are sensitive to talking about their pasts and how they’ll be viewed; they want a second chance. The average recruiting manager doesn’t necessarily think about that or receive the training to manage it. Ex-offender employees have a specific set of needs that are unique,” added Porter.