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CIA Hiring Process | Job Application, Interviews, And Employment

There’s so much suggestion and confusion regarding the CIA hiring process. Of course, this is obvious because of the secrecy the organization works with.

The Central Intelligence Agency, (CIA) is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the United States Federal Government, responsible for gathering, processing as well as analyzing information of importance to national security from around the world.

This involves the use of human intelligence and performing covert operations at the behest of the President of the United States of America. For an agency of this caliber, it is not unexpected that gaining employment will be tasking.

With only a few exceptions, landing a job with the CIA is unlike other private or government organizations. From the very invasive vetting process to the long waiting period, it takes only a true patriot to persevere through the entire process.

Notwithstanding, the CIA hiring process is not as complex as many think it to be, and in this article, I will demystify the steps such that you might apply for the job immediately after reading. Now let’s dive right in.

What to Consider Before Starting Your CIA Application?

Before starting the CIA hiring process, you must be a registered adult U.S. citizen currently living in the States or its territories, and willing to move to Washington D.C. 

Also, you should have no history of drug abuse —especially within the last twelve months — or any major crime, as they will investigate these during the screening process and can largely influence the outcome of your application.

As got from the official CIA website, the period between applying for and landing a CIA Job takes at least 12 months or even longer, so before applying for an internship position or job with the agency, consider the date when you would love to start working with them, then count back 12 months to know the time to apply. This will save you from any disappointment that might result from the usually long delay.

In addition, you need to scout through the agency’s website for positions, to see which one you’re most qualified for, as well as which directorate would best use your current skill set. 

According to the Harvard University website, the agency needs people from various backgrounds including but not limited to STEM, political science, and international languages, so, there might be an opening for whichever course you’ve studied.

With that being said, now let’s go through the step-by-step CIA hiring process.

CIA Job Application

This takes about 45 days in total and is concluded with an acceptance or rejection email. After finding the job opening that aligns with your interest and matches your skill set, note all the requirements for application and get all your credentials ready.

Once you are done, you can begin the application online, via the career application center on the agency’s website. You shouldn’t submit multiple applications for the same position. And you also need not worry if you’re finding it difficult to settle for a particular position to apply for. The CIA hiring process allows you to apply for up to 4 jobs at a go.

For the online application, you are required to provide an Application Package. This package will include information about your:

  • Background
  • Area of expertise
  • Education, certifications, and licenses obtained
  • Work history
  • Military experience
  • Foreign area knowledge
  • Transcripts, resume, and writing samples
  • Languages and proficiency levels in each, Etc.

In addition, for the CIA hiring process, you will be asked to complete a Personnel Evaluation Form which asks about:

  • Security clearance
  • Polygraph investigation
  • Background investigation
  • Selective service enrollment
  • Peace corps employment
  • Employment issues
  • Drug use and activity
  • Violations of law and criminal convictions
  • Delinquent federal debt Etc.

This job application is concluded with your filling out a voluntary Equal Employment Opportunity form.

It is important to note that by submitting a job application to the CIA, you are automatically consenting to having a background investigation by the U.S. Government and its agents, and to the use of any information you provide to the agency for any of its authorized activities. 

They will conduct a quick background investigation before accepting your application, while they will do a thorough one before the CIA hiring process is complete.

Many previous applicants have, from personal experience, advised that you move on with your life after completing the application, because the agency takes as much time as it needs to properly review the applications and evaluate the applicants.

CIA Screening and Interviews

If your online application was good enough to pique the interest of the recruiters, you will be invited to take part in different screenings, tests, and Interviews to confirm the data you have already submitted in the application and to check your level of competence in several aspects including confidence, trustworthiness, communication, and hands-on experience in your chosen field. 

These will be done via a combination of phone calls and in-person interviews (at a chosen secure location), online aptitude tests, and personality assessments. 

All these procedures can take about 2-3 months before moving to the next stage in the CIA hiring process.

Conditional Offer of Employment

This stage of the CIA hiring process will last for about 2-3 months; reaching this stage in the CIA hiring process is a sign that you’re close to landing your dream job. If you’ve passed the previous steps successfully, you’ll be given a Conditional Offer of Employment and issued with some forms to fill, one of which is the SF-86 form.

The Standard Form 86, referred to as the “Questionnaire for National Security Positions” is intended specifically for use in requesting investigations for persons seeking to occupy or maintain positions designated as National Security “Sensitive.”

Completing this stage successfully will enable you to move to the clearance stage in the CIA hiring process.

Congratulations on getting the job. But what do you do to ensure you don’t mess things up? How to Accept a Job Offer: Best Tips and Sample Letters

CIA Clearance

This is the longest stage in the CIA hiring process. It takes about 6-12 months or even more! 

This is where you will undergo security and medical fitness evaluations. The vetting process here can be invasive, as no single significant page in your medical or security history is unturned. It is an investigation that covers details about you from birth to your current age.

Some agents will speak with people you have closely interacted with within your lifetime. This includes classmates, friends, relatives, employers, colleagues at work, etc. They do not leave your financial history out.

This is because a person in debt is more likely to accept bribes than one who is financially stable. Also, having cases of tax evasion, check fraud, missed payments, or embezzlements traced to you will affect your clearance. 

Generally, the investigation here will focus more on the details provided in the Application Package you submitted earlier.

Official Job Offer

After successfully making it through the security and medical clearance, the agency will contact you to discuss your start date and other relevant information regarding the job.


What if Your Application Gets Rejected?

If your application gets rejected at any point in the hiring process, you will still be eligible to apply again in 12 months. However, note the plausible reasons you were not accepted, then work thoroughly on those areas before your next application.

What to Do While Waiting for a Feedback on the CIA Hiring Proces

While waiting for feedback for the CIA hiring process, you are allowed to travel out of the U.S. for up to 90 days, however, for your safety and security, you should not contact the CIA via hard copy mails, emails, telephone, internet,


As obtained from the agency’s official website, the CIA recruitment process takes about 12-16 months. The security and medical clearance stage takes the longest time about 6-12 months or more. 

You might have to keep yourself busy with other gainful engagements throughout that period.

The application process starts with an online application on the agency’s website. Here, you’ll be required to provide an application package containing all necessary information about you. 

This is followed by several interviews, aptitude tests, personality assessments, medical and security clearance, etc.

The CIA recruiters are very selective of who they recruit into the agency, so you will need to convince them that your skill sets are a perfect match for the job and that the agency will benefit from employing you. Below are a few steps you can follow to scale through the CIA hiring process.

●     Do your research: Dig up as much as possible about the CIA before the interview. Read books, and press releases on the agency’s history of establishment and growth, leadership, as well as information regarding their major achievements.

●     Keep a clear and clean record of yourself: Avoid crimes as much as possible, regardless of how little they seem to appear. Remember that the agency will conduct a thorough background check on you.

●     Research about the position you applied for: this will help you to know the possible questions that the interviewers might ask you.

●     Get mock interview questions and practice as much as possible

●     Be calm and confident throughout the interview

After a successful application, the first contact is through email.  Afterward, there will be a phone interview and an invitation for an in-person interview at one of the agency’s secure facilities. 

Further communication will continue through email until you receive an acceptance or rejection letter from them.

It is no doubt very difficult, but it is not impossible. It is a good representation of the aphorism, “many are called but few are chosen”. Thousands of applications are reviewed and cut down to about a hundred who are further contacted and evaluated until much less eventually get employed.

The CIA looks for a lot of things when hiring. This includes educational qualification, skill sets, competence in chosen fields, drug history, criminal history, military history, etc  Your additional skills e.g fluency in foreign languages takes you ahead of other applicants, thereby increasing your chances.


The whole CIA hiring process will be seen by many as difficult, unnecessarily invasive, and delaying, however, remember that the mission of the CIA is to “preempt threats and further U.S. national security objectives by collecting intelligence, producing analysis, and conducting covert action as directed by the president”, so if this is what you want to be a part of, there should be no stopping you.

It could be that you wouldn’t get in on your first trial until perhaps you try again for a 2nd, 3rd or more times. Just keep on pushing, and one day, you would be glad you didn’t give up.

Do you have more information regarding the CIA hiring process that is not covered in this article? Please share with me, I’d love to hear more.