The CIA has all of the employment opportunities of a large corporation, and then some. The Agency publishes openings on its website and you apply online. The employment process is lengthy, but the benefits worthwhile. Securing employment takes between two months and a year. When you submit to the interview process for a job at the CIA, you won’t feel exposed at all. By the time you finish, though, you'll feel as if you've been pole dancing naked in your front yard.
You must be over 18 and a U.S. citizen. For any non-clerical position, a degree is required. After you apply online, the Agency begins an examination of every aspect of your life. If they’re interested in you, they’ll express their interest within 45 days. During and after that time, friends, family and former lovers may find themselves answering very personal questions. As the CIA website says, they will find out if you have any conflicting commitments or skeletons in your closet that someone can use against you. They will find out how willing you are to play by their rules about handling the nation’s secrets.
A Phone Call
If yours is one of the applications chosen, you’ll receive a friendly phone call that lets you know you’ve been chosen for an interview. The caller will ask you many of the same kind of questions you'd expect from any company that was calling to schedule an interview. The Agency recruiter will talk with you about the opportunities available -- both the opportunity for which you applied and others for which you have appropriate skills. The recruiter will answer your questions in a straightforward manner and listen for your reactions to her comments.
If you’re a good candidate for the position, the Agency’s Human Resources Department will begin tracking you. The Agency will schedule a one-on-one interview in Washington, D.C., and send you an airline ticket, the date of the interview and instructions for when you land in Washington. When you are advised of the interview, you’ll receive specific instructions on what to do when you arrive in Washington.
Doctors and Polygraphs
While in Washington, your final interviews are with a doctor, a psychologist and a polygraph examiner. An Agency physician will examine you to ensure you are physically capable of doing the job. You will undergo an extensive psychological exam to ensure your mental makeup is compatible with Agency standards, and you’ll undergo a polygraph exam – a lie-detector test -- to ensure you’re telling the absolute truth. The CIA administers polygraph examinations regularly to all employees, the same way most companies use random drug testing. All you need to do is answer the questions truthfully.
Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.