News / Ottawa

So you want to be a spy? You'll need a clean driving record and a polygraph test

CSIS is accepting applicants and holding a one-day, open recruitment event on Wednesday.

CSIS will be holding the event between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Shaw Centre.


CSIS will be holding the event between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Shaw Centre.

So, you’ve decided that you want to be a spy.

Your gadget skills are finely tuned, your code-breaking abilities are sharp. You even look great in a dark black suit. What’s the first step?

As with most jobs, handing in your resumé is a good place to start. And on Wednesday, you might get the chance to do just that, as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) is holding a one-day recruitment event for intelligence officers.

The event will be held between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Shaw Centre, where "this time around, we will have people on site to pre-screen," said a CSIS spokesperson, meaning that they will be asking "some specific questions."

CSIS takes these events seriously: a spokesperson noted that they are asking that no cameras be present at the event, because "it's not just Canadians who are watching what we're doing."

At Wednesday's event, CSIS is focusing specifically on recruiting intelligence officers, a position that includes research, investigations, analysis, and reporting on matters of national security.

But what does it take to become an intelligence officer in Canada?

Canadian citizenship is a must, as the job (unsurprisingly) requires you to be eligible for top-secret security clearance.

But beyond that, the requirements aren’t overly restrictive: applicants need a bachelor’s degree, an unrestricted driver’s license, be willing to relocate, and to have been drug-free for 12 months.

That doesn’t mean it’s particularly easy, though. Attaining the security clearance required to work at CSIS is a long, and invasive, process. Anecdotal reports have made their way online of applicants being asked about detailed aspects of their personal lives. Applicants are also subject to a polygraph test.

Applicants should be prepared for a detailed background check. Even a poor driving record can hurt your chances: per CSIS’s website, excessive traffic violations “may force the Service to question a candidate’s judgement, and therefore, his or her eligibility for Top Security clearance.”

Fair warning: this is a difficult process. In 2007, over 14,000 people applied for jobs with CSIS and only 100 were hired. CSIS would not disclose the number of people they plan to hire this year.

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