If you apply for a security clearance, be ready to air your dirty laundry. Government investigators gather the following information as they determine whether or not you can receive a confidential or secret clearance:\u2022\u00a0 You must self-report answers on a standard form, known as an SF-86.\u2022\u00a0 Investigators will seek data about you from federal databases, including those run by the military, FBI and IRS.\u2022\u00a0 Your credit is checked.\u2022\u00a0 Investigators contact local law enforcement agencies where you lived and worked during the last five years.\u2022\u00a0 Investigators corroborate your date and place of birth. For a top-secret clearance, the following additional information is gathered:\u2022\u00a0 Investigators validate your U.S. citizenship.\u2022\u00a0 They corroborate educational information, including attendance and degrees earned.\u2022\u00a0 They review your employment records and interview workplace references including former supervisors and co-workers.\u2022\u00a0 They seek personal references from people who were suggested by you and those who were not.\u2022\u00a0 Investigators run a check on your spouse or cohabitant.\u2022\u00a0 Interviews are conducted with a former spouse if you have been divorced within the last 10 years.\u2022\u00a0 Investigators canvass your neighborhood and verify your residence.\u2022\u00a0 They review public records related to bankruptcy, divorce, criminal and civil court cases.\u2022\u00a0 You are interviewed to collect data and to resolve inconsistencies. Expect questions about your use of alcohol, illegal drugs and travel to foreign countries. Back to Management Strategies: "Worth the wait"