Interview Process: Drug/Alcohol history

Hi all,

I am a civilian and have been interested in landing a federal/contractor position. I have been referred to a couple positions with AF as well as being a candidate for a private contracting job, both of which require Secret clearance. Outside of student loans, I do not have any significant debt. However, I did get into some trouble several years ago. I was charged and later pleaded guilty to DWI in 2014 (charged June, convicted December). I was also cited by an RA on campus for having a beer outside of my dorm room (was 21 and alcohol is allowed in dorms if of legal age, I brought one outside while having a cigarette during halftime of a football game. This was either 2013 or 2014). On top of that, I would smoke pot fairly regularly in community college (2011-13) and eventually ceased doing so around the time of the DWI, with only very occasional use at the time and maybe a few (3-5 times) occasions up until my senior year of 4-year college. I completed alcohol courses mandated both by the county and college I was attending at the time.

Though I still sometimes drink on weekends (watching sports or occasionally in a social setting), I’ve greatly diminished my use and have stayed away from pot completely since ~2016. I also moved to a different state in 2017 and largely cut ties with those I would drink and/or smoke with, the one exception being two of my best friends who have also cleaned up their acts (one of which was with me when I was arrested). I have left the country twice, had a pen pal from Europe, but as a young person with a small family and social circle, my SF-86 form wouldn’t be too full outside of my drug/alcohol past.

I disclosed my DWI and prior marijuana use with the private contractor during a second interview and made me feel like I would be okay so long as everything was listed properly in the SF-86 form. I do still have a couple of questions in the case that I am offered a job:

  1. I’m fairly certain that being denied an interim would not result in the termination of any position I may get; the private group said they had plenty of unclassified work they need done too in the meantime but of course the sooner I obtain a clearance the better. What are my chances of obtaining an interim and how long would the investigation process last give or take?

  2. Assuming I will be contacted for a direct interview by an investigator, what would the references I list be asked and is anyone else I don’t list contacted? I don’t have many friends that I’ve known for 7-10+ years but I planned on listing my two friends listed above and one other person from my old circle. As far as blackmail is concerned, most people who know me are aware I used to smoke (my mom even caught me once), even in my new residence. I haven’t told many people about the DWI, but my parents/siblings are aware as are my would-be references. Would they ask employers, professors, people I’ve known since moving, etc about my criminal history? That incident is not something I’m proud of, and while it made me rethink my life choices and I became a better person because of it, it is still something I kick myself for from time to time.

I plan to detail all of the events of my arrest and be up front about how often I smoked, so I’m not worried about lying to the investigator, more so just wondering about my chances for an interim and how deep they will go in regards to asking the people that know me. I’m fairly confident that staying out of trouble for 5-6 years, being clean of drugs, and changing my personal life to involve alcohol less (gym, outdoor activity, music, etc) are enough to mitigate concerns the investigator/adjudicators may have. Thanks.

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I think you’ve identified the problem here. Much is related to how “in depth” they’ll go in asking the people who know you (whether listed as references or not).

In my case, despite clear credit and police records, my application was derailed because a few co-workers (all non-professional, uneducated, and basically losers) at a casual part-time job I was working at while in school, who apparently, but not visibly, disliked me saw their chance to be in the limelight by fabricating and exaggerating tales about just how “bad” and 'weird" an employee I was.

Oh they fully expect you will list the people in your past who will give you gold stars. For sure they will ask them for other people who know you. If everything you state checks out it’ll be pretty standard. Sounds as if the events are indeed in your past. But if anyone they speak to brings up any information you failed to mention, then it gets fun.

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Yes, those “developed” informants can be a real problem. They can say pretty well whatever they want, since they are not under oath, nor will they ever be prosecuted for any inaccurate or misleading information that they may provide to the BI’s.