How to Prepare for the Security Clearance Background Investigation

Security clearance is vital to national security, particularly for individuals working in sensitive or classified areas of the federal government. A security clearance is a designation that indicates an individual has been thoroughly vetted and is deemed trustworthy and reliable enough to access confidential information.

Many federal government jobs, particularly those involving national security or intelligence, require a security clearance as a condition of employment. Government contractors who work on classified projects must also obtain security clearances. These clearances allow individuals to access classified information, ranging from classified documents to access to secure facilities.

The background investigation process is a crucial step in obtaining a security clearance. This process involves a comprehensive review of an applicant's personal, financial, and professional history for the past ten years. The purpose of the investigation is to verify the information provided by the applicant on their security clearance application (SF86) and assess their suitability for holding a security clearance.

At Claery & Hammond, LLP, we provide legal counsel nationally to security clearance applicants. Contact us by calling (877) 362-3176.

Preparing for the Investigation

Every answer on the SF86 can be investigated, and the government will delve into an applicant's personal life, including their education, employment history, finances, and relationships, among other aspects. The investigation assesses an applicant's character, integrity, and loyalty to the United States.

Being honest and forthright throughout the security clearance investigation is paramount. Any discrepancies or omissions in an applicant's background or history can trigger problems, resulting in a delayed start date, a rescinded job offer, or even a denied security clearance. This is why it is essential to be detailed and comprehensive when filling out the application.

Before the investigation begins, requesting a copy of one's credit report and clearing up any issues beforehand is advisable.

To prepare for the investigation, applicants should gather all necessary information, including the following:

  • Employment and education history
  • References
  • Personal information
  • Criminal records (the application should include not just misdemeanor or felony convictions but also arrests)

If an applicant is scheduled for an interview, it is vital that they review their application beforehand to ensure its accuracy. If any errors or missing information are noticed, they should gather the necessary information and be ready to explain the mistake during the interview.

It is also vital to ensure that all reference information is accurate and up to date, as outdated information can significantly delay the clearance process. Additionally, it is essential to gather the most recent documents, as an applicant may have applied months before the interview, and some previously submitted information might be outdated.

Potential red flags, such as financial troubles or drug use, may arise during the investigation. The applicant must be prepared to address these issues and provide documentation or explanation to clear up matters.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

The security clearance background investigation process can be rigorous, and individuals might make mistakes that can significantly impact their chances of success. One common pitfall to avoid is withholding information or being dishonest during the investigation. This can include not completing sections of the application or lying about past experiences.

The government takes security clearances seriously and expects applicants to be forthcoming and honest throughout the process. Failing to disclose information or being dishonest during the investigation can have serious consequences. Not only can it delay the process, but it can also result in the denial of security clearance.

To avoid these pitfalls, applicants must be straightforward and transparent from the beginning. This means providing accurate information on the security clearance application, including all relevant employment and personal history.

In addition, it is essential to proactively address any red flags that may arise during the investigation. This can include providing additional documentation or explanations for financial or legal issues. By being proactive and addressing any potential issues early on, applicants can demonstrate their trustworthiness and increase their chances of successfully obtaining a security clearance.

Call Our Firm Today

To obtain a security clearance for federal government employee or contractor jobs, applicants must be honest, thorough, and proactive throughout the background investigation. This includes providing accurate information on the application, avoiding common pitfalls, and addressing any potential red flags. Seeking further resources and assistance, such as help from a national security clearance law firm, can also be beneficial.

If you are going through the security clearance process, please contact Claery & Hammond, LLP at (877) 362-3176.