Introduction to MI5 Graduate Scheme

MI5 is the Security Service. Section 5 of Military Intelligence. Working alongside MI6, GCHQ and Defence Intelligence, MI5 is concerned with protecting British parliamentary democracy and economic interests, focusing on domestic counterintelligence, security, and counter-terrorism.

Alongside various opportunities for experienced professionals, MI5 also offers four in-depth graduate programmes designed to train recent graduates with the right skills and abilities to work in different parts of the service.

Opportunities and Benefits

All graduate positions at MI5 offer a starting salary of at least £33,000, with a guaranteed increase after a year as well as performance-based bonuses.

Alongside this, many locations offer subsidized gyms, restaurants, and coffee bars for use by MI5 staff and graduates.

Other benefits include flexible working hours, excellent training and continuing development places, and a generous pension.

Employees at MI5 tend to stay - they have a 5% attrition rate which is much less than the UK average - and this is because there are so many opportunities to develop and get involved in things that really interest you.

Graduates in particular have great career prospects, with a clearly defined development programme to follow and the chance to get real-life experience as soon as they start their placements. This experience is instrumental in getting ahead at MI5, and is often the reason that graduates are able to get promotion opportunities as soon as they are qualified.

MI5 Graduate Scheme Streams

mi5 graduate scheme: ultimate guide for applicants

Intelligence Officer Development Programme (IODP)

When most people think about working at MI5, they think about being an Intelligence Officer - and this is the graduate stream dedicated to becoming an investigator.

In this stream, you’ll start with an initial placement within MI5, designed to help you understand the way the organization works and help you develop some skills. Then, you’ll undertake the 12-week Investigative Skills Training programme, which consists of both classroom-based learning and on-the-job experience with an investigative team.

Once you have passed this training, you will be a qualified investigator who will spend a minimum of two years in a core role, either in Counter-Terrorism or Counter-Espionage to consolidate your knowledge and application of skills.

The whole programme lasts about five years.

Aspiring Intelligence Officers need to have excellent teamwork and communication skills, a good eye for detail, and be organized. They’ll also need to have good judgment and decision-making skills, not to mention honesty and integrity.

Intelligence and Data Analyst Development Programme (I&DADP)

Analysts are a hugely important part of the Security Service, collecting and analyzing reams of data to ensure that intelligence is created, distributed, and utilized effectively.

In the I&DADP, graduates will initially spend three months working in the service to get to know more about the organization and the processes, before they move on to their analyst postings.

Over the next few years, the graduates will rotate between three different areas of analysis in specific postings, getting real-world experience and immersion. As part of this, they’ll be able to learn advanced data analytics techniques and get access to unique tools that are not available anywhere else.

With this programme, graduates will be considered to be fully trained and ready for advancement after three years, although the full programme lasts five years.

Aside from skills like communication and curiosity, you’ll also need to demonstrate that you are able to interrogate large data sets and evaluate the reliability of your findings - and that you are keen to keep developing your skills.

Technology Graduate Development Programme (TGDP)

This is a structured two-year programme for STEM graduates who want a role in the IT department at MI5.

As with the other graduate programmes, your initial posting is designed to get you used to the way the organization works as well as get you accustomed to the role while you develop your skills.

You’ll then work in and around a number of different areas in IT so that you can decide where you would like to specialize. This includes:

  • Software Engineering

  • Project Support

  • User Experience Design

  • Data Science and Machine Learning

  • Information and Cyber Security

Business Enablers Entry Scheme (BEES)

The last graduate programme is aimed at those who are looking for a corporate role within MI5.

Depending on the area in which you want to focus, the programmes last 2-3 years - and you will get the chance to decide where you want to specialize as part of that.

You will have access to mentoring and on-the-job training, as well as the opportunity to get stuck in straight away.

Some of the roles available in corporate at MI5 include:

  • Finance

  • Legal

  • HR

  • Information Management

  • Compliance

  • Recruitment

BEES candidates need to demonstrate that they have great organizational skills and an eye for detail, and that they are skilled communicators who are adept at developing working relationships.

Application Process for the MI5 Graduate Scheme

Eligibility Criteria

The general eligibility criteria for entry to MI5 is quite straightforward.

You must be a UK Citizen (dual nationality is accepted), you must be at least 18 years old on your start date, and you must reside in the UK for at least seven out of the last ten years. You won’t be able to apply for a role at MI5 from outside the UK.

For graduate positions, the minimum qualification is a 2:2 degree (or higher). For TGDP entry, this must be in an area of Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics, but for the other programmes, the degree can be in any discipline. In some cases, consideration will be made for candidates who have relevant experience giving them the right skills.

One of the most important things to consider is discretion. You must not tell anyone that you have applied to work at MI5, and if successful you cannot describe any aspect of your work with others. The only exception to this is that you are allowed to tell your spouse or a close family member.

Stages of the Application Process

The application process for any of the graduate programmes with MI5 follows a thorough process, designed to ensure that every candidate has the opportunity to demonstrate that they have what it takes to be successful.

Some of the steps differ, depending on the role that you have applied for.

Application Form

The initial application form will capture all the relevant details needed to get started. This will include your contact information, details about your education and qualifications, and any relevant work experience.

The data collected here will be used to check your background, so it is important that you are thorough in your representation.

  • If you are applying for the BEES graduate programme, you will also need to complete a competency questionnaire (based on your aptitudes and abilities) and a situational judgment test.

  • If you are applying for the TGDP, your application form will also have a competency questionnaire to complete.

Online Tests

If your application form matches the requirements of the role and the eligibility criteria, you may be invited to complete one or more MI5 assessments.

  • Situational Judgement Test - Each question is based on a fictional workplace scenario, and you will need to decide what the best course of action would be to deal with the presented problem from the multiple-choice options provided.

  • Online Investigative Assessment - This is an interactive test, involving a fictional investigation. You’ll have 90 minutes to demonstrate the approach you would take to investigate the case.

  • Cognitive Abilities Test - Questions here will test your numerical, verbal, and logical reasoning abilities. You’ll need to make reasoned decisions based on unfamiliar numerical and verbal data, and use logic to solve problems.

  • Subject of Interest Test - This is essentially a job knowledge or skills test, where you will need to solve problems based on the application of job knowledge and skills relative to the IT role you have applied for.


There are no online assessments in the BEES application process - the competency and situational judgement questionnaire taken as part of the initial application are used instead.


The TGDP online assessment is the situational judgement test, similar in structure to the one used in the IODP process but with content more relevant to technology.

Phone/Video Interview

The telephone interview is a chance for the recruitment team to get to know you better, and find out more about why you applied, and what you can offer.

There are two types of questions asked here:

  • Motivational questions - Why did you apply for the programme? What are your career goals? This is a chance for you to show the recruiters that you have done your research on both the graduate programme and MI5 as a whole.

  • Competency questions - Tell us about a time when you had to work as part of a team. Describe a project that you were involved in that went wrong. Tell us about when you last led a team. You’ll need to provide examples of the skills they are looking for in action, and do it succinctly.

For the TGDP application process, the interview will be conducted via video, with the same types of questions as the telephone interview.

Assessment Centre

If you are selected to move forward, the next stage of the recruitment process will take place at an assessment center. Here you will be joined by other graduate programme candidates to complete several different exercises so the recruitment team can see you in action.

You can expect to complete the following exercises:

  • Role plays - You might work with another candidate to solve a problem presented by the assessor, using communication skills. You will act in the role of an MI5 staff member.

  • Written exercise - Individually, you will need to analyze some data and produce a report with recommendations based on the information you have been given

  • Competency interview - Similarly to the telephone interview, you will have a face-to-face interview with a hiring manager, with a focus on your competencies and abilities.

Final Selection Board

The last stage of the application process is the Final Selection Board.

Not all candidates will need to complete this stage; it all depends on your performance in the assessment center.

Tips for a Successful Application

mi5 graduate scheme: ultimate guide for applicants

Be Honest

As a government agency, MI5 has access to almost all data about you - so if there are any inconsistencies in your application, they will spot them.

While they have high standards in their staff requirements, it is better to be honest and disclose anything that you might feel would hamper your chances at employment, because they will find out about it when they check into your background.

Honesty, integrity, and discretion are very important to MI5 as an organization.


The more you know about the Service, the better you will be able to present yourself as the ideal candidate.

While the exact nature of the work at MI5 might be shrouded in secrecy, there is still a wealth of information available online that you can use as part of your research - the history of MI5, what they are focused on, and any press releases or media discussions you find online.

Use the requirements for each programme to make sure that you are highlighting the relevant skills that they are looking for throughout the recruitment process.


Practice makes perfect, and this is true of both online assessments and interviews.

There are many resources online where you can practice different aptitude tests. By practicing, not only are you getting familiar with the content and structure of the tests, you are also getting used to being in test conditions at home - which is very useful when it comes to the real thing. Practice tests will also point out any areas where you might need to revise to bring your scores up.

Interview practice is also important. Competency questions will require you to provide answers, so spend some time thinking about previous experiences, whether in the workplace or at university (or anywhere, really) that you could use to demonstrate a particular skill or competency listed in the job description. Think about describing it succinctly, without waffling, and practice delivering the explanation, too.

Self Care

Getting a graduate placement can be tough, especially when the role is in high demand (like for MI5). Looking after your well-being is important throughout this process - if you don’t, you could lessen your chances of success.

Try to get between 6-8 hours of sleep a night, eat healthy, balanced meals, and don’t forget to hydrate.