CANOE Network

The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


By Shannon Jackson
Special to The Toronto Sun

Q: Can a company ask you in an interview if you have a criminal record? What about personal questions?

A: A company can ask if you have a criminal record for which you have not been pardoned, and you should answer honestly.

If you have achieved a pardon from any criminal conviction in your past, you can answer "no" to that question, and further explanation shouldn't be required.
Send your job-related questions to Diane Janes at, or mail to Career Connections, The Toronto Sun, 333 King St. E., 4th Floor, Toronto, Ont., M5A 3X5

If, however, you have a conviction without a pardon, you may be asked to explain the nature of the offence. It may disqualify you from the position, depending on its relevance to the job to which you are applying.

In Ontario, legislation that governs hiring allows companies to ask job candidates any question that is related to a person's ability to do the job. This is referred to as a bona fide occupational requirement.

Any questions asked in an interview should relate to the requirements of the position. A company may not ask if you have young children, but they are permitted to ask if you have obligations that may restrict your availability for unpredictable overtime.

If you have more questions about what a company can and cannot ask you, check out the Ontario Human Rights Commission Hiring Guide at

Shannon Jackson is a hiring expert, with more than seven years experience recruiting for Fortune 500 companies across Canada.

(Shannon Jackson is a hiring expert, with more than seven years experience recruiting for Fortune 500 companies across Canada.)

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