I’m currently in the hiring and security clearance process for a 3 letter agency.
Last week I had my Polygraph and Psychology exams. I was told by the Poly examiner that I passed the Counter Intelligence section, but didn’t pass the Personal Conduct section.
While the examiner was probing as to why I might have a reaction to the Personal Conduct section, I provided information on minor crimes including but not limited to music piracy and possession of illegal fireworks. I did not mention those occurrences or any other minor crimes on the SF86. I thought I was in the clear as the Background Investigator stated during the interview the scope of the investigation was only going back 7 years, which those “crimes” were committed outside of the scope time frame.
TL:DR, I failed the 1st poly due to personal conduct outside of the scope time frame. Prior to leaving the facility, I was given information to schedule a 2nd poly, but would have to wait upwards of 30 days to schedule another appointment.
In hindsight, I realize I should have disclosed any involvement in criminal matter no matter the severity prior to having the polygraph, but what is done is done.
My question, how much weight is placed on “forced admissions” during the polygraph examination, specifically misdemeanor and lesser crimes?
Am I facing an uphill challenge or am I over analyzing things?
It’s tough to say for sure, but usually polygraph examiners/agencies get hesitant when people admit to anything during/after the test, regardless of what it is. I’ve taken numerous poly’s, passed some failed some. From my personal experience, examiners tend to take a “well if they admitted to that, there still must be more they’re holding back.” It’s good you can schedule an additional test. If there’s anything else you plan on divulging, do it before. If there’s truly nothing else you need to tell, stick to your guns and you should be fine.
The main purpose of polygraph screening is to obtain admissions. When an applicant makes disqualifying admissions, it saves the agency the cost of a background investigation. So to answer your question, a lot of weight is placed upon the admissions obtained. However, not all admissions are necessarily disqualifying, and the ones you mentioned seem relatively minor.
In the case of the CIA and NSA, which use a polygraph procedure known as the relevant/irrelevant test, you should be aware that virtually all new applicants are told that they’re having problems during their first polygraph session and are badgered for admissions. Those who don’t make any disqualifying admissions are invited back for one or more follow up sessions where the process is repeated.
You should be aware that the polygraph operator cannot read your mind. Polygraphy is a thoroughly discredited pseudoscience. Telling the truth does not necessarily increase your chances of passing (and conversely, lying does not necessarily reduce them, though I don’t encourage it).
If you are indeed able to schedule a follow-up session, then your admissions were not considered disqualifying.
Anti is mostly right here. They develop Questions based on the “pre” poly chat. They need put you on the rack, discuss pirated music which became a huge deal post Snowden. Be truthful, not sure of age but if young it could be a maturity thing, you outgrew the fun of finding music online. Now most folks routinely pay for music but in the sticky in between time…it seemed ridiculous to do so. Post Snowden non legal download gets scrutiny. If you knew it was wrong, did anyway…will you be cavalier doing so with classified? If it was stupid kid stuff you since disavowed, say so. If you continued to do it…say so.
Thank you all for the replies. I should note I am in my early 40’s and the offenses mentioned previously were between I was 18 and mid 30’s. I was never charged or prosecuted for my previous offenses, but that probably doesn’t make much of a difference at this point. I have mitigated the music piracy issue by using Spotify and have a paid membership plan since 2017. As for the illegal fireworks, I haven’t purchased any illegal fireworks since 2016.
I will be sure to make known any and all transgressions, no matter how minor they might be. Hopefully that and the 2nd poly will enough to salvage my chances of obtaining a clearance.
Thanks again for your all input and insight on this matter.