TS/SCI poly fail and advice on continuing

Hi all. I went to my first poly recently, and it was an unpleasant experience to say the least. I was told that I failed the drug question repeatedly and was accused of withholding more information on illegal drug use. To provide some context, I did use marijuana 8-10 times from 2010-2022 timeframe. I stated that during the psych evaluation, but the problem is that I didn’t click the yes box for illegal drugs on the SF86 form. I told the examiner that out of haste to complete the form on time and just reading the question plainly as stated on the form, I clicked no to the drug question. The SF86 form just stated illegal drugs in the last 7 years and didn’t provide a dropdown of drugs included like it did during the in-person psych evaluation. The general guidance is to not overshare and provide irrelevant information that could count against you. All this is to say that it seems as though I falsified and withheld information, even though I unintentionally clicked no because of my misinterpretation and misunderstanding of the question itself because this is my first time going through the federal employment process & going through TS/SCI.

My questions are:
1 Should I reach out to reschedule my second poly to be proactive or wait until I hear from recruiting? My examiner didn’t provide any help or guidance on the second poly. 2 Should I continue with this process or withdraw? I don’t know how all of this will negatively impact my adjudication review. 3 What are some advice you have for the next poly?

I’ve been made to feel in the first session that I need to tell the examiner what he wants to hear to get a pass even though that would be lying. I’ve told him multiple times my truest self is telling the truth, and I was just made to feel like a liar and a criminal the whole entire time. I feel like I fell for some of his scare tactics and already provided more information than I needed to and all that is going to count against me plus clicking no on the SF86 forms. I would really appreciate any advice and help, so I can have a better mindset and emotional state. Thank you all in advance.

Someone else on this blog just asked a question very similar to this, so I will try to explain. First off, your polygraph experience is rather typical. Polygraphers accuse a lot of people of withholding information. They do this because they are trying to get you to confess to things that a background investigation would not be able to reveal.

To answer your first question, if you have been told that you will be taking a second poly, that is a good sign. If they thought you were not suitable they have not scheduled that second poly and you would be notified that you were discontinued in the process.

To answer your second question, it might be a problem that you forgot to mention your drug use on your SF-86. The polygrapher may try to spin this as you were trying to be dishonest during your onboarding process.

To answer your third question, my advice moving forward is to remember that the polygraph is not a mind reading device. Calm down, relax, and don’t be intimidated by the polygrapher’s empty threats. They are trying to get you to confess to anything. Therefore, DO NOT make any false confessions to try appeasing your polygrapher.

Thank you for your response and advice! This has been helpful to provide some peace of mind. I was following another thread where a user suggested to reach out to scheduling via email to set up the second poly yourself. Do you recommend that I do this to be proactive vs. waiting to hear from them first (that is even if that happens), especially when the appointments are already backed up.

In response to what you answered on my second question - I’m really concerned about this the most. The examiner did accuse me multiple times that I purposely falsified the drug question on the SF-86 form in the first place because I know that it would make me look unfavorable. Now replaying what happened in my head, the examiner was indeed trying to spin it to make it seem that I was dishonest with no integrity, regardless of the truth that I’ve told him multiple times throughout the session. I was so frustrated towards the end that he thought he was getting somewhere with me changing my answers. I’m afraid that the next polygraph is going to pick up where we left off, and he will say, “well you lied and confessed at the end of the first poly session.” Do you know if the second polygraph will start from the beginning, and I’ll have a different examiner, or it will be the same person? The experience was really negative, and I don’t want my first experience to impact how I will do on the second examination. Sorry for the long message again, and thank you for your help

I was following another thread where a user suggested to reach out to scheduling via email to set up the second poly yourself. Do you recommend that I do this to be proactive vs. waiting to hear from them first (that is even if that happens), especially when the appointments are already backed up.

You might be referring to a discussion I was in. If the agency is in Fort Meade, I would absolutely follow up directly with the scheduling team via email if it has been more than 2 weeks since your poly. I did that after 2 weeks had passed and no news. They responded almost immediately with a scheduling email. They must have just forgotten about me or something.

August is filling up, it might already be full. But I would be proactive if you haven’t heard anything.

Yes, I believe it is the same discussion. The agency is in Fort Meade. Thank you for your advice. I will follow up via email directly, so not to delay scheduling the second poly any longer. Do you know if you will be assigned the same examiner or a different one? If anyone can share any insight on this, I’d greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

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In talking to other candidates who were on their second+ rounds during my first visit, it should be a different examiner.

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I’m glad to hear that it will most likely be a different examiner. I hope for a better experience overall for the second round. Thank you for the help and being responsive :slight_smile:

You may find the pseudonymous Ralph J. Perro’s article, “Interviewing With An Intelligence Agency (or, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Fort Meade)” illuminating.

In your next session, DO NOT admit or say anything that sounds like you were trying lie. While I can’t say definitely what will happen on your next polygraph session, it will probably be with a different polygraph examiner. There is also a good chance that they will continue to ask the same questions, but they may also switch to different questions such as accusing of hiding some other kind of criminal conduct.

Just had my third test. Different examiner each time.

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Keep telling your truth. Never switch stories to make them “nice”. They get people to admit far worse and get really nice once they get you to change stories. I would boldy schedule, continue telling truth. Pay no attention to the theatrics.

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