Does Goodwill Run Background Checks?

The short answer is yes, Goodwill runs background checks on all potential employees. Don’t let this discourage you, though. If you have a felony or misdemeanor and want to work at Goodwill, your chances of being hired are high. Although the organization runs background checks, they also hire people with criminal records. Keep reading to find out more about how to get a job at Goodwill!

In this article, we will share information about these topics:

  • What is Goodwill?
  • What will Goodwill see on my background check? What do I do if I have a felony or misdemeanor?
  • How can I succeed in a Goodwill interview?

About Goodwill

Goodwill is a nonprofit organization focused on job training, community work, and helping people find employment. This is good news for felons who want to work with the organization! Their mission is to support people in need of employment, which makes them a great place to apply for work. Goodwill is known for its thrift stores, which generate some of the money needed to support the larger organization.

Goodwill operates more than 3,200 thrift stores nationwide. These thrift stores sell clothing, furniture, books, toys, jewelry, home goods, and other items. Goodwill relies on donations to stock their stores.

The main jobs available in a Goodwill thrift store involve handling stock and engaging in customer service. For example, you might be employed as a cashier, a retail associate, or donated goods processor. Here are some of the requirements for these jobs.

As a cashier, you might need to:

  • Operate a cash register
  • Greet customers and help them check out

As a retail associate, you might need to:

  • Organize stock
  • Price items
  • Clean dressing rooms

As a donated goods processor, you might need to:

  • Quickly sort through and organize stock
  • Carry heavy objects

You can search online for more area-specific job openings and in-depth descriptions of different positions. If you want to work somewhere fast-paced that also has a positive mission statement, Goodwill could be the place for you! Keep reading to find out more about applying for a job with the organization.

Goodwill Background Check

Goodwill performs a background check on all potential candidates. This background check is legal, and it might include information about any pending charges, felonies, incarcerations, or misdemeanors on your record. They will probably also require a drug test.

Goodwill’s hiring process begins with an application form. The background check that they run will most likely be performed after you have interviewed with the company. If the job application form asks you about felony convictions, read the question carefully. Sometimes it only asks about convictions within the past 5, 7, or 10 years. In other situations, it might only ask about violent crimes. The Goodwill application asks about “Crimes Against Persons” in particular. In these cases, you don’t have to mention felonies outside the scope of what the application asks for.

If you live in an area which has passed Ban the Box legislation, Goodwill shouldn’t ask you about your criminal record while you are filling out an application. This includes the states of:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont

Goodwill must ask you for your written consent before they run a background check, no matter where you live. They might ask for your consent during your interview or after your interview. This is legal, even if you live somewhere where they cannot ask about the details of your criminal record when you are applying.

If you refuse a background check, Goodwill can decide not to hire you because of your refusal. Not consenting to a background check shows the organization that you have something to hide. They might see you as dishonest or untrustworthy. It is best to agree to the background check.

Before Goodwill gets any information about your criminal history, you can see what might come up on your record. You can find your state’s official criminal background check website here. The cost of a background check varies by state.

If you find information on your record that is incorrect, you can correct it before you apply, so that all your information is up-to-date. For example, if you were charged with a felony but convicted of a misdemeanor, you should make sure that your report shows just the misdemeanor! To fix mistakes on your criminal record, you might need to submit a form online or in the mail, have your fingerprints taken, or file a motion for a judge to make the correction. The process depends on your state and the kind of problem that you need fixed. A google search can help you research how to correct your criminal record in your specific state. This will lead you to more in-depth instructions or a phone number to call for more information.

If you can get an arrest or conviction expunged from your record, you don’t need to tell any potential employer about it. It also won’t show up on a background check. Expunging a record is possible depending on the type of felony or misdemeanor and also depending on where you live. States that currently support expungement are:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Washington

This website has more information about the process.

If you make changes to your record, make sure you know what those changes are. Get documentation to prove that they are legitimate so that you can show them to someone at Goodwill if they have any questions.

All employers are also prohibited from discriminating against you based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This means that Goodwill can’t treat you differently from another applicant with the same criminal background because of your race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

How can I succeed in a Goodwill interview?

Goodwill states on their website that the “results of background inquiries will not necessarily disqualify you for employment, but will be considered when making a hiring decision.” This is great news, and should encourage you to be honest with the organization about your past and your hopes for the future. They also state that they work “to enhance people’s dignity and quality of life by… eliminating their barriers to opportunity, and helping them reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.”

The interview stage of your application can be an important time to talk about your criminal record. If you get an interview, don’t lie about felonies or misdemeanors on your record. If you are asked about them, take the opportunity to show that you are dedicated to moving your life forward in a positive direction. Explain your criminal history briefly. Then focus on your goals for the future and why Goodwill is a good fit for you.

Some things may be out of your control. The person who is interviewing you may not be interested in hearing your story. If you have a violent felony or a history of theft, it could be harder for you to land the job. Goodwill has an especially serious anti-theft policy.

To show why you would be a good fit for Goodwill, take time to prepare for your interview. Prepare answers to questions like:

  • Why are you looking for a job?
  • What do you know about Goodwill?
  • What skills do you have that will help you succeed in this position?
  • What is your biggest weakness? Biggest strength?

Goodwill has also compiled a list of interview questions and tips for your reference here.

To demonstrate your professionalism, try to arrive early to your interview, dress formally, and prepare a copy of your resume. Since Goodwill has a history of hiring felons, you have a chance to get this job. Think of your interview as your  “make or break” moment.

Many colleges offer free information about resumes, such as these tips from the University of Georgia. Some websites offer resume templates that you can fill out with your own information. For example, and Google docs have free templates. There are also many resources online, such as this database of example resumes from You can also visit the H.I.R.E. Network’s website for more state-specific guides and resources to help you prepare. Goodwill itself offers job training programs. Get in touch with your local Goodwill if this is something you would like to participate in.

A job at Goodwill is a great way to re-enter the workforce. Even if you don’t end up working for the organization, you can still take advantage of the many resources that they offer. If Goodwill is not the place for you, try out their job search page to explore other options!

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