Our recruitment process varies from role-to-role. But generally speaking, you would go through the following stages after you've clicked on the Apply button:
Owing to the sensitive nature of our work, we must be satisfied as to the honesty and integrity of our staff. We must also be satisfied that there are no significant vulnerabilities to the people who work here or to the organisation itself.
Our members of staff are likely to have access to sensitive information relevant to national security. Candidates are therefore required to obtain the highest form of security clearance required for government positions, Developed Vetting (DV).
The aim of vetting is to ensure that the character and personal circumstances of an individual are such that they can be trusted with sensitive government information or assets. We look at candidates very carefully before making a decision about their suitability to hold DV status.
Information provided and obtained during the vetting process will be treated in strict confidence and is held separately from recruitment information.
Discretion is vital. You should not discuss your application, other than with your partner or a close family member, providing they are British. You should also make them aware of the importance of discretion. You should not post on social media sites about your application or discuss it with anyone else at this stage. You will receive further guidance during the recruitment process.
Please note, you should only launch your application from within the UK. If you are based overseas, you should wait until you visit the UK to launch an application.
The vetting process involves completing detailed questionnaires, discussing these with a Vetting Officer and agreeing references for interview. It is important that you provide full and accurate information as any omissions can cause a delay to your application. If you are not sure how much detail to provide then more is preferable. You can use the various continuation sheets to help explain your position further.
Giving misleading information or omitting or concealing information during the recruitment and vetting process is viewed very seriously and would be seen as evidence of untrustworthiness. In such circumstances, your vetting clearance may well be refused, even though what you were seeking to conceal may not in itself have caused a problem. Your vetting clearance could be removed at a later date if the misleading information or omission subsequently comes to light.
Some initial vetting questions are included in the application stage and should be answered accurately, honestly and in full. Later on in the process, you will be asked to provide details about yourself, family, partner, friends and associates. You have to provide financial information and there will be a check with a credit reference agency. You will also have to provide information relating to your health and lifestyle.
The information you provide is carefully considered in deciding whether you should proceed through the process. Vetting Officers are not employed to make moral judgements – they expect that people will have had varied life experiences and they will take a realistic view of modern life and its pressures. They are aware that life can be complicated and any difficulties that you have experienced will be carefully considered.
Vetting Officers deal with hundreds of cases each year and are trained to deal with any issues arising during the process. Each case is treated individually and great care is taken in coming to each decision.
Candidates undergoing security vetting are treated impartially and consistently irrespective of any disability they may have, or of their gender, marital status, age, ethnicity, religious affiliation or sexual orientation. GCHQ is an inclusive organisation and values having a neuro-diverse workforce and the vetting process reflects this.
We appreciate that many people will have experienced mental health difficulties at some point in their lives. No mental health condition will be an automatic bar to holding a DV, however, mental health difficulties will need to be fully explored. This could include an assessment by an appropriately qualified mental health professional, e.g. Clinical Psychologist.
Successful candidates will be given an unconditional offer of employment when their DV has been granted. For national security reasons, or in order to protect the confidentiality of independent sources, we will be unable to provide feedback on your application.
Yes. Your vetting will be reviewed at regular intervals during your career.
We have a strict no drugs policy which prohibits use, possession or supply of illegal drugs. Misuse or abuse of prescribed medication or any other substance is also incompatible with holding security clearance which can be refused or withdrawn if this policy is not observed, so you should adhere to our policy from the point of application onwards. The point of application is the date you submit your application form. You will be required to undergo a drug test during the application process.
A criminal record would not necessarily preclude an applicant from gaining a job here. Each case is considered on an individual basis and all relevant convictions are taken into account.
Loyalty to the UK is vital so you need to be a British citizen to join us (dual nationality is fine too, if one nationality is British). At least one of your parents is also required to be either a British citizen or hold citizenship/nationality of one of the following: British Dependent Territory, British Overseas Citizen, Commonwealth, British Protected Person, British National Overseas, EEA, USA. If you’re married to, or cohabitating with, a partner who isn’t a British citizen, we’ll judge each case on its merits, taking into account factors such as the nationality concerned and the nature and duration of the relationship.
Usually, you need to have been a resident in the UK for ten years before applying for a role with us (but we assess each case individually). Common exceptions to this residency requirement include if you served overseas with HM Forces or as a representative of HM Government, if you were studying abroad, or if you were living overseas with your parents. If these apply, we will need references for the time you lived abroad and details of the countries you lived in.
Here at GCHQ, we’re fully committed to equality and diversity. We welcome applications from everyone – regardless of age, experience, cultural background or sexual orientation. However, you do need to be a British citizen and have lived in the UK for the majority of the last ten years. We’re also a Disability Confident employer, dedicated to providing guaranteed interviews to all disabled candidates who meet our minimum criteria.
There are qualification requirements to work here at GCHQ, which vary depending on the role you are applying for. Please see the job description for each role for further details. The majority of roles also allow equivalent qualifications to those listed on the job description. A useful table outlining what an equivalent qualification looks like in each country of the UK can be found here.