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Suitability Process

Before receiving a final job offer, you must complete our suitability process.

If you receive a conditional job offer, you will be required to complete the suitability process which includes two parts—security and psychological processing. These processes are completed concurrently, and successful completion of both processes is required before a final job offer can be issued. Some candidates may not have to complete security processing and will be notified of this by their recruiter.

Security processing

Security forms

To begin the security process, you will submit security forms (including an SF-86) via an online system. You will receive an email with instructions on how to access and register within the secure portal.

Please review our Candidate Experience Security Portal (CESP) FAQs prior to completing your security forms.

CESP Non-student

CESP Student

After you submit your security forms, our security team will review your forms and may contact you requesting additional or updated information. If you don’t respond within the required timeframe, we may stop your processing.

Once our security team is finished with their review, we will complete your background investigation and schedule your in-person security processing. The in-person security processing includes a polygraph and, in some cases, a one-to-two-day security interview.

Background investigation

In cases where an investigation has been initiated or completed by another federal agency within the last seven years, we may use that investigation as part of our adjudication for a security clearance or may request an updated investigation. The background investigation helps determine a candidate’s stability, trustworthiness, reliability, discretion, character, honesty, judgment and unquestioned loyalty to the United States. During the background investigation, previous and current employment, education and residences are verified. Interviews are conducted with knowledgeable sources such as friends, neighbors, supervisors and co-workers.

We may contact your current employer during the background investigation, so use your best discretion with regards to information provided to your employer. A personal interview is conducted to review your security forms and discuss the required topics necessary to help us determine your eligibility for a security clearance.


Our polygraph program will provide you with a fair, ethical and professional experience. We want to help educate you on NSA's polygraph process, so review our detailed polygraph examination process.

Once you complete the security process, our security team will determine your clearance eligibility determination per the criteria found in Security Executive Agent Directive (SEAD) 4.

Psychological processing

Although psychological processing is part of our suitability processing, it is separate from the security processing.

  1. The Psychological Assessment Battery (PAB).
  2. An interview with a clinical psychologist.
During the PAB, you will answer questions about yourself and then complete the interview with the psychologist.

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