Section 2 of Straight-A Guide Handbook for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals–Intake

Facilitator note: Please ask participants to use their discretion when responding to the following questions. Let each participant know that they may look to the suggested answers that we’ve provided, but that each individual should decide how best to answer. We’ve designed these question and offered sample responses with the intention of helping participants prepare their best possible answers to questions they may face from prospective employers.


1. Personal information:

  • What is your full name?
    • Example: My name is John Doe. (write in complete sentences.)
  • What is your gender?
    • I am a healthy male.
  • With whom are you currently living?
    • I live with my mom.
  • What is your mailing address?
    • My mailing address is 400 Tremont Avenue, Apartment C, San Francisco, CA. 94910.
  • Do you have a bank account that will allow you to receive your paychecks through direct deposit?
    • I have set up a checking account with Wells Fargo Bank.
  • What languages do you speak?
    • I speak English and Spanish.
  • What is the best phone number where employers can reach you?
    • Employers may reach me at 415-410-1110
  • What is an alternative phone number for messages?
    • Employers may leave a message with my mother at 415-423-2222
  • What is your email address?
    • My email address is

What communication method do you prefer (Please check or circle)?

  • Telephone calls x
  • Email x
  • Text messages x

2. Educational background:

  • What grade level did you complete in school?
    • I completed the 11th grade.
  • Did you obtain a high school diploma or GED?
    • I’m working to complete my GED now and I expect to pass the test this month.
  • Have you attended any college or vocational schools?
    • I have not attended college but I intend to enroll after I find a job.
  • If yes, what courses did you take?
    • I’ve not completed any courses in college.

3. Work related information:

  • Describe the type of work that interests you:
    • I’m interested in contributing to any organization that will allow me to begin building a career and contributing. I will work hard to prove worthy of any job opportunity that I receive. (Show that you’re motivated to work and contribute.)
  • What is the longest length of time that you’ve worked on one job?
    • I am new to the labor market and I’m eager to begin building a track record. I hope to find a company that will recognize my contributions and open opportunities for me to earn increasing levels of responsibility. (Express your willingness to commit for the long term. Employers make a big investment in training and they want to hire loyal employees.)
  • Describe any skill sets that you may have that you would like prospective employers to know about:
    • I have a positive attitude and I’m willing to work at any task that will contribute efficiencies to the enterprise of my employer. I am willing to go the extra mile on the job, doing more than what is necessary. My life experiences have helped me develop organizational skills and I’m dependable. I work hard to develop communication skills that allow me to contribute effectively to any team. I’m willing to perform unskilled labor and to develop new skills with appropriate training. In the past I’ve worked on jobs that require physical labor, but I’m also adept at filing and clerical work. (Try to write in ways that shows your enthusiasm)

4. Provide background information that you feel may help employers know or understand more about your journey. Some suggested areas to cover include the following:

  • How would you explain your criminal background? (The more honesty you express, the more successful you’ll become at persuading an employer that you’re serious about building a career. Developing skills to market your commitment may go a long way toward advancing your career. I’ve always found it helpful to accept full responsibility for the bad decisions of my past.)
  • I made many bad decisions as a young man. I grew up in a rough neighborhood and I did not seek out positive influences. Instead, I gravitated to the streets. Those decisions led me into troubles with the law. I pleaded guilty to selling drugs and a judge sentenced me to serve a five-year sentence. While I served that sentence, I read many books that opened my mind. Those books convinced me that I needed to make some changes in my life. I continued reading and started to develop my communication skills. I quit associating with people who lived a criminal lifestyle and I started to build relationships with positive role models. I’m determined to build a new life as a law-abiding, contributing citizen.
  • What steps are you taking to avoid further problems with the law?
    • Everyone in my social circle lives as a law-abiding citizen. I don’t associate with anyone who lives a criminal lifestyle. I’m actively involved in school so that I can earn my GED and I’m living in accordance with a five-year plan that will advance my life. I’m 100 percent committed to living as a good citizen, a good father, and a good person.
  • Describe what you’ve learned about yourself during your most recent period of incarceration?
    • I learned that I have the power within me to become something more than my past bad decisions and my current circumstances. Although I cannot undo the past, I have the power to choose how I’m going to respond to difficult situations that arise. This insight has caused me to shift perspectives about my role in the world. I no longer blame anyone else for the challenges I face. Instead, I look forward to advancing my life in ways that lead to increasing levels of success.
  • Describe the level of commitment you make to living as a law-abiding citizen?
    • I am 100 percent committed to living as a law-abiding citizen. Rather than taking my work for it, I encourage people to hold me accountable. Measure my progress toward the goals that I set. That progress and my daily activities will speak louder than any words that I write or say.
  • How do the activities and associates you choose reflect the level of commitment you describe above?
    • Every day I’m determined to advance my life. I show this commitment by ensuring that I keep everything I say, everything I think, and everything I do in harmony. People can see that I’m authentic, determined to live as a good citizen and to serve humanity to the best of my ability.
  • How would you describe your five-year plan?
    • In five years I will be college graduate and own a home. I will be physically fit at 170 pounds. I will be able to run marathons at will and hold a leadership position in the company that employs me. My credit score will be above 720 and I will have sufficient savings to cover all of my expenses through a full year. I have created accountability logs to ensure that I remain on track to reach my goals and I’m eager to show them to anyone who would like to witness my commitment to transparency. I invite the world to watch me grow and become a contributing member of society.