You know there may be a problem with obtaining or maintaining security clearance when you are filling out your application. The form will ask you questions which you may not feel comfortable answering candidly.
These questions may be very personal, about past drug use, a gambling problem, mental health issues, credit issues, criminal arrests/convictions, or dishonorable discharges from the military.
The ideal answer to these kinds of questions is no. When you are in doubt what to answer, it is best to work with a federal security clearance attorney. It is always easier to provide satisfactory answers at the application stage than in an appeals situation. An experienced attorney can help you frame a satisfactory answer.
Here are some solid recommendations to get through this battery of difficult questions.
Tell the truth
A security clearance application is no time to fudge the truth. If you are judged to have misled or dissembled on an important point, it can be held against you. A judgment of dishonesty will go into your permanent record, and it will be an uphill effort to overcome this perception.
Answer with care
Applicants will harm their case if they skip questions, if they misunderstand a question (answering Yes when they meant No), or failing to proof their answers.
Document your responses
If a problem needs to be explained, you will much more credible if you provide proper documentation for your answers. Doing so will also prevent you from misremembering key facts or statements.
Prepare for your interview with care
You should expect to be interviewed by an investigator. These interviews can be extensive, lasting anywhere form an hour to several hours, depending on what the concerns are. It's important to do your homework, anticipating important questions and having your answers ready.
A lot hinges on having a successful interview. Nevertheless, you will help yourself by answering even the tough questions in a calm, helpful manner. Being nervous or defensive or argumentative will not help your cause.
Be responsive in your followup
If you are asked for additional documentation or clarification, respond promptly and professionally.
It is easy to get anxious or flustered when your career is on the line. This is why it's valuable to have an attorney in your corner who knows the process and can advise you on the best pathway to obtaining the security clearance you need to do your job. Call Alan Lescht & Associates, P.C., at 202-536-3315 for help with security clearance issues.