How To Prepare for a Security Clearance Background Investigation

A security clearance background investigation is often required when you are applying for a high-profile job that involves public trust. For example, if you apply for a federal job, these agencies will require you to undergo this process.

  • U.S. State Department
  • Intelligence Agencies
  • U.S. Department of Defense
  • National Nuclear Security Administration

There are also government contractors who will ask you to go through this process before hiring you. It is important that you take this seriously.

Here’s how to prepare for it.

  1. Ask for the appropriate application and clearance level. A copy of the application and clearance forms can be downloaded from a specific website.
  2. Download then start to accomplish these forms. You are required to be very detailed, extremely honest, and precise about everything: Names, Dates, Addresses, Medical Records, Employment History, Job Description, Education, Professional Experience, Salary, Personal and Professional References, and other pertinent details that will be asked from you. If you happen to have gaps pertaining to educational or professional experience, be prepared to give full disclosure about the reasons behind this. Do not skirt questions about your finances because the government investigator will unearth these easily. Don’t think for a moment that you will be able to hide anything. Make sure you complete these forms with the proper fingerprints if necessary.
  3. Be very candid during your interview. Everything that was written must match with what you will share during your interview. Again, strive for absolute honesty. Do not worry about convincing your interviewer that you have a spotless record. If everything relevant to your job application is in order, the interviewer will know it. Concentrate instead on being yourself. Further, know that you are being subjected to nothing short than an interrogation because your interviewer doesn’t want you to experience blackmail or threats of exposure for lying after you are hired.
  4. Accept the fact that you and your family will be under scrutiny. As part of the on-going security clearance, investigators might be called in to interview members of your family, neighbors, former colleagues, your boss, and your doctor even. This is procedural and will be conducted with your knowledge so do these people a favor by informing them that investigators will come around for a chat. With regard to your doctor, a medical release of your history will be required so prep your doctor about this as well.
  5. You may call to ask questions about the procedure. Do not be afraid to enlist the assistance of your prospective employer or agency about the procedure. They will be glad to help. Don’t be surprised to know they’re on your side. For the most part, they would want you to pass.

It is important to get everything in order if you want to pursue a job that will require you to pass a security clearance background investigation. Do not set yourself up to fail by deliberately hiding something unpalatable from your past. Just think that everyone’s done something stupid and rabble-rousing at one point so there’s no point in pretending to be born with a halo ‘round your head.


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