MI5 probably does not need an introduction. The famous British intelligence agency played a major part in many Hollywood movies, including the James Bond series. Yet, to succeed in the MI5 Graduate Application you probably will have to forget all that and concentrate on pure facts. To begin with –  the competition for any of the three Graduate Programs will be extremely fierce. Secondly, you might want to familiarize yourself with rigorous criteria for future candidates, because if you will have to share anything with Jame Bond, it will be uppermost secrecy.

MI5 offers Graduate Programmes in: Intelligence Officer Development Programme, Intelligence and Data Analyst Development Programme, Technology Graduate Development Programme

Below you can find details of the MI5 Application Process that we were able to gather despite the top secrecy involved:


MI5 Application Process

There are 6 steps involved in the MI5 Application Process:

Step 1:  Initial Application ( Pre- screening questions)

Step 2:  Security Questionnaire

Step 3:  Psychometric Tests

  • Situational Judgement Test
  • Verbal Reasoning Test
  • E-Tray

Step 4:  Online Application

Step 5:  Telephone Interview

Step 6: Assessment Centre

  • Individual Tasks/ Group Exercises
  • Competency Interview
  • Panel Interview


MI5 Security Questionnaire

MI5 Security Questionnaire is a part of the Developed Vetting Programme, which essentially is a form of security clearance that is required for certain governmental positions in the UK. Unlike in standard application processes, during which candidates’ alignment with the company is calculated solely on the basis of their culture, personality, and skills, at MI5 candidates must undergo the vetting process first. The aim of the vetting is to verify if an applicant’s characteristic ( yes, that includes past behaviors) and his or her personal circumstances allow them to be qualified as reliable enough to be trusted with sensitive information or assets.

The MI5 Security Questionnaire is obligatory. To successfully go through the process you will need to complete detailed questionnaires, discuss these with a vetting officer, provide personal references, documents relating to your financial and health conditions.


MI5 Psychometric Tests

Psychometric tests are a key component of  MI5 Application Process. You will  be required to sit Verbal Reasoning, E-tray and Situational Judgment Tests. It also might be handy to have a look at Personality Tests, to find about your strengths and weakness to better prepared for the detailed series of interviews you will have to face.

Details on MI5 psychometric tests can be found below.


MI5 Situational Judgement Test

The MI5’s Situational Judgement Test is a set of questions assessing how you might react to hypothetical events and situations that might be encountered in the MI5 workplace environment. This will be a litmus test for your values, assessing if they match with the British Intelligence Agency. So do your research and try to memorise them by heart (might come in handy in the future!)

These tests also concentrate on your ‘ people skills’ so, good communication and networking abilities should earn you a few points. Whilst they vary in form, usually, you will be presented with a number of descriptions to which you are obliged to provide an appropriate response from a multiple choice list. So, try to be as sensible as you can and use the full capacity of your emotional intelligence.

The catch in any Situational Judgment Test is the high probability of any of the presented answers. We recommend you to think in accordance with the promoted values outlined in the company’s profile, but to really ace it you might want to work on your situational- judgment muscles while taking the mocking Situational Judgment Tests mirroring the MI5 psychometrics test.


MI5 Verbal Reasoning Test

The MI5 Verbal Reasoning Test comprises of a series of paragraphs which you will be required to read and a set of questions matching the information provided in paragraphs. Your answer options will be True, False or Cannot Tell.

The MI5 Verbal Reasoning Test is a timed assessment aimed at checking your comprehension and understanding skills during which you will be required to do a fair amount of reading, so make sure you will be sitting them in a place where you can focus.

By presenting you with the Verbal Reasoning Tests, people from MI5 want to verify your understanding of the written word, as well as your dexterity when it comes to filtering out the key information from a bulk of the text. Here, please take a moment and imagine a pile of emails residing in your future Inbox,  waiting to be read and replied. Not easy, huh?

To get the necessary confidence and speed up things, practice some Verbal Reasoning Tests now.


MI5 E- tray

Before you skip this section, we have to clarify – it’s not just the ‘e-mail skills’, so you might want to consider preparing yourself for this exercise as well. In fact, rather than checking your e-mail literacy MI5 E-Tray exercise is a simulated work task measuring your probable performance in the company’s workplace.

The exercise is usually integrated with other selection procedures ( might pop up during Business Insight Stage or the actually assessment center), and correspond with your future day- to- day responsibilities, as it is tailored to the company, but also to the role you are applying for.

One of the possible scenarios might be a situation when you receive a bunch of e-mails which you are expected to read and respond to while proving ability to prioritize and process information. Bur rather than just checking if you can get a hold of your inbox, it is your multitasking skills and ability to be organized under pressure that is being verified.

This has to be done in a manner as if you have been an employed already. Since you pictured yourself joining the company, this should not be too complicated, however, to get that confidence you might want to consider practicing a little bit before.


MI5 Personality Test

In essence, MI5 Personality Test will assess if you fit the specific role you are applying for and the “secret service” in general. But other than that, it also aims to decipher your mind and see what kind of person you are, what motivates you, and where your weakness lies. We don’t need you remind you, that the answers should be honest as these tests are designed to point out any discrepancies, however, it’s also important to remember that some qualities for a specific programme might be worth stressing more than others.


MI5 Telephone Interview

Telephone interviews can be daunting. Especially, when someone lacks the confidence to talk to strangers on the phone. The awareness of this conversation being the first interaction with someone from the MI5  only makes it even more stressful. So it’s important to know how to snap out of that nervousness.

It’s a blunt thing to say, but as you might know, the only way to overcome this is to prepare beforehand. You need to take advantage of the time given, rather than approaching this as a casual conversation.

The MI5 Telephone Interview might turned out to be a lengthy process. Candidates should expect to be faced with both personality and competency- based questions. If you need an advice you  should focus primarily on highlighting your achievements that match the desired skills and competencies.


MI5 Assessment Centre

MI5 Assessment Centre is unlike anything that you have experienced before. Or everything that you did, but with an extra level of difficulty. It is usually a mix of individual and group activities, that will further verify your logic interference, verbal reasoning and communication abilities, as well as a capacity to formulate strong judgements. The exercises will differ depending on the job position you are applying for, but make sure you are prepared for all scenarios. Below you can take a look at what you might expect and how to prepare your all-conquering strategy for the assessment day.

Written Report –  you will be asked to write at least one report based on the plethora of reading you would be supplied with. The trick is to analyze the information pack, carefully but quickly. At this stage it is important that you have understood the MI5 culture and your chosen division thoroughly.

Group Exercise – These exercises will vary,  but the general skills that the assessors are looking for is a good balance between teamwork and leadership skills. You might want everyone in the room to see your great leadership skills, but approach the group exercise rather as a test of your collaborative and teamwork abilities than a show of a directorship. The most common way of verifying these skills is through a group discussion on a divisive topic of or a hypothetical black scenario to which  a quick solution is needed.

Competency/ Panel Interviews –  this is a further step of validating your application. You might expect even more detailed questions related your work experience and University achievements.  Some questions related to the vetting might occur. Remember to stay calm under pressure and be yourself to get through these last steps of the MI5 Application Process.


Application Process

Step 1:  Initial Application
Step 2:  Security Questionnaire
Step 3:  Psychometric Tests
Step 4:  Online Application
Step 5:  Telephone Interview
Step 6: Assessment Centre







Prepare for your MI5 tests

  • Practice Numerical Reasoning Tests

  • Practice Verbal Reasoning Tests

  • Practice Diagrammatic Reasoning Tests

  • Practice Situational Judgement Tests

  • Practice Assessment Centre Tests

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The MI5 graduate programme consists of 3 different pathways, all of which last 2 years and aim to help you develop skills whilst being fully supported and trained. The MI5 website offer a mind map on their website to help you decide which programme suits you the best and the three programmes are Intelligence Officer Development Programme, Intelligence and Data Analyst Development Programme and Technology Graduate Development Programme.

Intelligence Officer Development Programme – Intelligence officers run MI5’s investigations into threats that are faced. The programme is two years and designed to give you an introduction in the career path. Intelligence Officers move roles every 3 years which means you gain an enormous amount of experience. In this programme you will either do two one year placements or one two year placement. After you have successfully completed the two year programme you will then be able to undertake the 6 week Foundation Investigative Training Course which will further prepare you to move on into one of the investigative sectors. For this programme you are required to have a 2.2 degree or relevant full-time work experience.

Intelligence and Data Analyst Development Programme – This role is responsible for collecting complex and often incomplete data. The programme is two years and designed to give you an introduction in the career path. You will be involved in uncovering and mapping communications as well as working on strategic projects. Like the Investigative Officers, Analysts move posts every three years in order to gain a wealth of experience over various areas. You will need a 2.1 degree or relevant full-time work experience.

Technology Graduate Development Programme – This programme is more of a structured programme that gives you relevant experience, knowledge and skills that are required to become a technology professional. There are a number of capabilities areas in which you could be assigned to – IT Security and Cyber, Business Analysis, Software Development, Project Management and IT Service Management. Throughout the two years you will be given the opportunity to work in roles that match your capability and will work alongside Technical Architects or Business Analysts. You may also be involved in building and testing applications.