Hiring process and security


We are committed to building a skilled, diverse workforce.

While CSE hires at all security levels, the majority of our work requires a Top Secret clearance, which means that our hiring process is more demanding than most.

To apply for a position at CSE, you must:

  • be a Canadian citizen
  • be eligible for a Top Secret security clearance
  • be willing to work in Ottawa


All applications are handled in the strictest confidence.  It is important that you maintain a similar level of confidentiality and we ask that you do not discuss your application to CSE with anyone outside of your closest family and friends.

Diversity and employment equity

At CSE, we are committed to building a skilled, diverse workforce reflective of Canadian society. We promote employment equity, and are committed to developing inclusive selection processes and work environments. This means removing barriers to employment for members of the four groups identified in the Employment Equity Act.

If you are a woman, an indigenous person, a person with a disability, or a member of a visible minority group, we encourage you to indicate that on your application.

If you are contacted for an interview or testing, please advise us of any accommodation measures we should take to facilitate a fair and equitable assessment. This information will be treated as confidential.

Diversity and inclusion at CSE

Hiring process

Our hiring process will assess your application in three phases and will take approximately 6-12 months.  It will examine your background, character, family history, personal circumstances, and financial background.

Phase 1: Global assessment

A combination of assessments may be used to test your skills, knowledge, and suitability. Assessments could include a telephone interview, an online exam, an in-person test, an in-person interview and/or a psychological assessment.

The decision to continue with your application will be based on many factors, including our current hiring requirements, test and interview results, experience, fit for the organization as well as the information provided in your resume and application.

  • Read more about Phase 1

    If we continue your assessment in Phase 1, we may request additional information from you and will also be conducting reference checks. It could be several months before we contact you again to follow up with your candidacy.

    The selection process has many phases and can be discontinued due to several factors, such as changes in skills requirements, budgetary constraints, etc. A decision not to continue processing is rarely based on one factor, but rather an assessment of the many elements involved in the CSE hiring process.

    Should a decision be made to discontinue the assessment process, you will be informed, in writing.  If you do not receive an email (please check your “junk” folder), this indicates that we are continuing with your application.

Phase 2:  Security assessment/screening

To complete the security clearance process, you may be required to:

  • fill out a personal history questionnaire and consent form
  • meet with CSE security personnel for an in-depth interview
  • be fingerprinted and photographed
  • undergo a polygraph examination to assess your reliability as an individual and your loyalty to Canada
  • Read more about Phase 2

    As part of the security clearance process, your name will be checked against credit, criminal and Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) databases. CSIS will also conduct database checks of all names on the security clearance questionnaire and conduct background checks as required including a minimum of your last ten years’ residence, employment, school, international travel, etc. Your personal references may be contacted as part of the screening process.

    Please note that a Top Secret Special Access security clearance (TSSA) is a condition of indeterminate employment at CSE. The entire security process can take twelve months, or more, to complete.

    We will conduct your security interviews in the major Canadian city closest to your location. If you plan on being in the Ottawa area, let us know and we will do our best to schedule the interview while you are here.

    To prepare for the security application forms, we suggest compiling all your residential, employment, and travel information from the last ten years.

Phase 3:  Decision phase

If you are successful in the suitability and security assessments and obtain your Top Secret level clearance, all information regarding competencies, skills, security information and staffing requirements will be reviewed, and your name may be added to our pool of eligible candidates.

  • Read more about Phase 3

    Please note that a security clearance does not guarantee a position with CSE. Should you have a best fit interview with a manager and are not hired, your name may remain in the pool. It is possible that other managers select your file for further consideration. Should you not be matched to an appropriate vacancy before your clearance expires, your name shall be removed from the pool (the results of the polygraph and psychological tests are only valid for one year).

Questions about hiring and security

  • Q1. Do I need a university degree to work at CSE?

    Certain positions do require a university degree, but CSE also hires people with college diplomas or individuals that have an acceptable combination of education, training and experience related to the position.

  • Q2. Do I have to be a Canadian citizen to apply?

    Yes, you must be a Canadian citizen. Also, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) must be able to verify your whereabouts for the past ten years. You should keep records of any significant period of time spent abroad.

  • Q3. Can I still apply if I have a criminal record?

    Yes, you may be considered even if you have a criminal record. However, the details of the offence will be evaluated during the screening process and the circumstances may affect the outcome of your application.

  • Q4. Can I still apply if I have used illegal drugs in the past?

    You must abstain from illegal drug use (or misuse of prescription drugs) for at least one year ahead of applying to CSE, and at any time during the assessment and clearance process. Any illegal drug use within this timeframe will result in your application being discontinued. Misuse of prescription drugs means taking a medication in a manner or dose other than prescribed, taking someone else's prescribed medication, and/or providing prescription drugs to others.

  • Q5. What is CSE’s policy on recreational cannabis use?

    Recreation cannabis was legalized in Canada on October 17, 2018. However, CSE employees may not report to work under the influence of, or consume any product containing, cannabis while conducting CSE business. This does not apply to employees who have a medical authorization to consume cannabis.

  • Q6. Can I still apply if I have declared bankruptcy in the past?

    Yes, however, this would be a significant factor that is subject to evaluation when considering the reliability and suitability of a candidate during the security screening process.

  • Q7. What should I expect from the polygraph examination?

    Nervousness is expected and accounted for during the examination. It is important to speak candidly about your life experiences, ask questions and follow your examiner’s instructions. The most critical element of the polygraph examination is to be honest even if there are things you are nervous about sharing.

  • Q8. What happens if I fail to receive the security clearance?

    If an applicant fails to receive a Top Secret clearance to CSE standards, an employment offer cannot be made.

  • Q9. What happens if I withdraw from a staffing process?

    The assessment process is stopped. To apply for another position in the future, you must submit a new application.

  • Q10. What happens if I am unsuccessful in the staffing process?

    If you are unsuccessful in a staffing process, we ask that you wait 18 months before reapplying to the same position. In the meantime, you may apply for other opportunities at CSE.

Related links:

Contact us

Professional inquiries

Student inquiries



Discover CSE's impactful mission



Read how we are held accountable to Canadians

Culture and community

Culture and community

Learn how we support our employees and our community

Report a problem on this page

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, please contact us.

Date modified: