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Polygraphs - Counter-intelligence or Suitability

The purpose of a polygraph exam is to assist in determining whether you can be trusted with sensitive national security information. If you want a security clearance, you must be prepared to answer questions often of a sensitive, personal nature and do so honestly. Questions of personal habits, finances, trust, and loyalty to the United States are fair game.

There are really two types of polygraph exams: the Counterintelligence Polygraph and the Counterintelligence plus Suitability Polygraph. The Counterintelligence Polygraph is used to determine if you've had any involvement in espionage or sabotage against the United States.

A Suitability Polygraph delves into your personal life with questions about your conduct and behavior. For instance, you may get questions about drug use, involvement in criminal conduct, and whether you were truthful on your security forms.

You should prepare for a suitability polygraph by:

  • Reviewing the information contained in your SF86
  • Get a good night's sleep
  • Take regular medications
  • Don't skip any meals
  • Come with an open mind
  • Allow enough time in your schedule
  • Arrive early
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