It may seem like you’ve been tasked with completing the impossible: hire a suitable AND clearable candidate. This might seem obvious, so bear with me for a second. Don’t waste time on a candidate determining if s/he meets your employment suitability standards before you spend time screening the candidate for his/her ability to obtain a clearance. For cleared positions, a candidate that either has an active clearance or appears to have the ability to obtain a clearance advances to the next round in the interview process. Clearance surprises after the candidate is a new hire should be the exception and not the rule.

So how do you make that a reality? Is it really possible to quickly sift through the applicants and locate the clearable candidates? Start by posting in the right place or give more weight to applicants responding from a cleared community. Using public sites like LinkedIn or Monster will certainly give you a broader audience, but it may not yield as many clearable candidates. Actively engage in the networks on cleared communities. Dealing with an already-cleared candidate is, of course, ideal.

Employment Pre-Screening: Why it’s worth it

Once responses are in, it’s all about prescreening. It’s worth reiterating that this prescreen is all about weeding out candidates or rating candidates based on their answers to questionnaires that will help you determine how clearable the candidate is. If you find yourself hiring a number of positions within a certain field, it’s wise to hold on to candidates that pass the initial prescreen but fall out of the race for one reason or another later in the hiring process.

So what should this cleared prescreen look like? After you determine who meets the major qualifications, send a questionnaire to these applicants without an active clearance. Your questionnaire needs to cover the thirteen adjudicative guidelines. Word your questions so that you can get an understanding if any of the applicants responses to the guidelines could raise a security concern, but don’t forget to determine if there are conditions that could also mitigate the security concern. The point is to find a candidate who can obtain a clearance – not necessarily an interim clearance. Don’t waste your time with open-ended questions like: Rate how you feel about drug use? This kind of questioning won’t be any help, and could even be construed as discriminatory, so be as specific as possible.

Once you’ve sifted through the clearable candidates, you can then add in other company prescreens. Be careful that you’re not duplicating your efforts. A candidate shouldn’t have to answer similar questions throughout this process. It doesn’t make any sense to find a clearable candidate only to drive him/her away with a lengthy and cumbersome screening process. Keeping a separate employment pre-screen procedure for cleared and non-cleared positions is a good idea. It protects your company legally should an applicant claim bias (you’re not the one who cares about the sexual behaviors or criminal conduct of a cleared candidate – it’s Uncle Sam who does).

If the idea of an employment pre-screen specific to security-cleared professionals scares you, there are dozens of companies who offer similar services – including scanning an applicants social media, public records and more.

Involve your Facility security officer

Don’t forget about your facility security officer (FSO). Engage them in the cleared candidate review process. If possible, have them write the initial draft of the employment pre-screen. Your FSO can help spot red flags, as well as alleviate any initial concerns over a candidate. And, of course, vet any final paperwork with your legal department. The last thing you want to do is to craft questions that are discriminatory. The adjudication process is intended to grant clearances to individuals who prove to be trustworthy and will not be bribed or manipulated, thereby causing a threat to the United States. Your questionnaire should have the same intent.

Get Clearance Details on the Cleared Network

security clearance details

Need a candidate with a TS/SCI clearance with full-scope polygraph from the CIA, with a current PR (periodic reinvestigation)? You’ve come to the right place. Candidates on the Cleared Network can list their clearance details up front, so you can see if their clearance will easily transfer for the contract you need them to work on. They’re easy to scan and easy to see on the very-visual Cleared Network candidate profiles.


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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.