There is nothing worse in the world of job search than to have an obvious issue in your background that is difficult to explain.
I have often suggested to members that on some topics we discuss there is no right answer. When there is no good answer to something in your background, what do you do?
While I am the official spinmeister of The FENG, there are some problems that people raise with me for which every answer is a loser in some ways. When you are faced with one of these kinds of issues, I would suggest that the best defense is not just to have the best possible answer ready, but also to be the one to bring it up. Hoping they will ignore it is just wishful thinking on your part.
When there is an elephant sitting in the room, someone has to explain its presence. If it is your elephant, you should explain why you brought him/her to the meeting.
By taking the “bull by the horns,” you get to present an answer to the question they are dying to ask on your terms. If you let the interviewer bring it up, the question may not be framed in the best possible way and you may not have a good way of bringing the question back to where it needs to be.
Staying too long at one company or appearing to be a job hopper are two good examples of apparent problems for which there may not be any good short answers. (Of course, you always stayed too long or not long enough at your various jobs. No one ever stays the right amount of time.)
The more difficult the question you need to address, the more time you should spend thinking about the “right” answer, and trying out the “right” answer out on those whose judgment you trust. The worst time to try out your answer is in an actual interview where you might be blowing off a great job offer by appearing to “stumble and fall.”
We do have chapter meetings all around the country, and if you haven’t been to one lately, you ought to give it a try. There is no better place to experiment.
As long as you were only arrested, but not convicted, you should be able to explain your way out of just about any problem. (And if you need help, call me.)