Military background checks are among the most rigorous in any field or sector. Because many military positions involve classified information pertinent to national security, the government is adamant about making these checks thorough.
Especially if the position in question involves a government security clearance, you can expect the background check process to be detailed and in-depth. Even if the job is entry-level and has no security clearance, the military will conduct a background check to ensure a candidate is “reliable, trustworthy, of good conduct and character, and of complete and unswerving loyalty to the United States.”
Most military background checks involve multiple components. As with any employer, the scope of the background check may vary depending on the position at hand. All military recruits or applicants will be required to submit a questionnaire disclosing information about their background. Questions may pertain to anything from criminal history to past drug use.
Refusal to answer any questions on this form will result in disqualification from job consideration. Most military background investigations also involve a personal interview segment, so candidates get the chance to explain the answers on their questionnaires.
Under executive orders, all federal employees—including military—must be fingerprinted and screened using the FBI criminal database. Additional background screenings, including further criminal history investigations, may be required depending on the job. For example, the background check process may require a drug test.
Background investigations for positions involving security clearances are the most in-depth military background checks. These screenings take a long time and involve many different layers. These checks include a criminal background investigation, which checks records with local law enforcement agencies in the areas where a candidate has lived, worked, or attended school in the past decade.
Security clearance background checks also include an extensive interview segment. Not only does the background check subject go through a personal interview, but the government also conducts interviews with the subject’s spouse, friends, neighbors, educators, employers, and professional references.
Findings from these interviews and checks are used to determine whether the individual can be trusted with classified matters of national security. Security clearances, once granted, typically last for a period of five to fifteen years depending on the sensitivity of the classified material. For instance, some military personnel with a “Top Secret” security clearance must go through the background check process every five years. A person with a lower-tier “Confidential” security clearance may only need to renew that clearance with a new military background check every 15 years.