About MI5

Military Intelligence, Section 5 (MI5) is the UK’s counter-intelligence and security service; it comes under the direction of the Joint Intelligence Committee. Its purpose is to protect the national and economic security of the UK by preventing acts of terror or serious crime. MI5 attracts much attention from graduates seeking stimulating, rewarding, and demanding careers—each year there are approximately 10,000 applications for only 60 graduate openings. 

MI5 recruits to a variety of roles, including the MI5 Intelligence Officer Programme, the MI5 Development Officer Programme, and the new Technology Graduate Development Programme. This is part of MI5’s new emphasis on its recruiting initiative to take talent from a wide range of social and ethnic backgrounds in order to match the diversity of the threats faced. Read the information on this page to find out more about the MI5 Assessment Centre and how JobTestPrep can help you get the job you desire.

Graduates can join MI5 as Intelligence Officers, Intelligence Analysts, Computer and Network Forensic Specialists, IT Security Exploitation Officers, or Foreign Language Analysts. Each role has a specific skill set requirement, but the following traits are required for all roles: discretion, integrity, and common sense. The Security Service looks for candidates who make balanced decisions, as well as those who are resilient, highly organised, and incisive communicators.

Investigative Challenge

Before you start your application, MI5 encourages you to complete its investigative challenge, a short timed test designed to assess your use of intelligence and analytical skills. This test is not a formal part of the recruitment process, but it is a useful way of enabling you to ascertain if you have the skills necessary to do the job.

On this test, you are given ten minutes to review a number of written documents based on a scenario. Following that, you are given five minutes to answer four multiple-choice questions on what you have read. These five minutes have the added benefit of allowing you to gather your thoughts on the situation. However, you cannot go back to the documents to help you answer the questions. There may also be more than one correct answer, so you should answer based on your notes and conclusions. This test is a type of verbal reasoning test. Ahead of taking this test, take a look at our verbal reasoning test practice pack to hone the skills needed to succeed on this challenge.

MI5 Application Form

Once you have decided to apply to MI5, the first stage of the application is to complete some pre-screening questions which assess your eligibility to join MI5. You must answer these questions honestly, but if you don’t meet the criteria you will be unable to complete the application form. The initial application form is simply your contact details and an equal opportunities monitoring form. Once you have submitted your application form, you are automatically sent an invitation to take two online tests.

MI5 Online Tests

All applicants are invited to take two online tests: the competency questionnaire and the MI5 verbal reasoning ability test. You must pass the tests to be sent the full MI5 application form.

MI5 Competency Questionnaire

This test is a type of situational judgement test, assessing you on the key competencies and behaviours necessary to work in the Security Service. Ahead of the test, review the competencies required for working with MI5 and for your desired position in particular. Then take a practice situational judgement test to familiarise yourself with the types of question and ways of thinking required to pass this test.

MI5 Verbal Reasoning Test

The MI5 verbal reasoning test assesses how well you can understand and analyse written information. The MI5 test is provided by Cubiks, and you have 25 minutes to complete 36 questions. On this test, you are given a short text to read and then asked questions based on the information you have read. These questions ask you to choose the correct statement about the text from a list of options. The tight time limit imposed on this test means that you have to make this decision quickly, which is not easy to do. Practice is highly recommended as it will train you to create a solving strategy to help you pass the test. Prepare for this test with our tailored MI5 Verbal Reasoning preparation pack.

MI5 Written Exercise

Once you have passed the tests and completed the application form, your application will go through a sift process. If your application is successful at the sift stage, your next assessment is the written exercise, which takes place at an assessment centre venue. In this exercise, you are given a brief containing a large amount of information to read and analyse, followed by a task requiring you to pull out the key pieces of information in order to make balanced decisions. Time management is key here as well as your analytical skills. Gain tips on how to approach this exercise with our written exercises pages.

MI5 Telephone Interview

If you are successful at the written exercise stage, next up is a telephone interview. This interview focuses on your skills in a set of competency-based questions. It also explores your motivation for working with MI5. The interviewers are looking for you to give them examples from your past experience to demonstrate that you have the required skills. Ahead of the interview, think up examples from past jobs that you can use to answer questions, and learn to use the STAR method to organise them.

MI5 Assessment Centre

Applicants to many positions are invited to an MI5 assessment centre. Each assessment day is specific to the position being recruited, with tasks designed specifically for the required skills. Remember that you are being assessed against these skills in each and every exercise. There are some common exercises found at the different assessment days. We will go through the options.

Role Play Exercise

In this exercise, you are given a brief and a scenario and informed about your role in it. The role is based on a situation you can expect in your work at MI5, and the interviewers are looking at how you handle the situation. Gain tips on how to handle a role play situation.

Written Exercise

Applicants for positions other than graduate-level jobs may be asked to complete a written exercise at the assessment centre. In this exercise, you are given a pack of materials to look over and internalise before you complete a task, such as writing a report or briefing a note to a superior. The assessors are looking for evidence that you can identify the correct information from within a wider set of information, as well as how you communicate in writing. Sharpen your writing skills and prepare with our written exercises practice.

Group Exercise

During group exercises, you are usually placed in a small team with other candidates at the assessment centre to complete a joint task. This may include a discussion about a topic relevant to the role you are applying for, a debate, or the need to choose a specific course of action. You are watched throughout this exercise by assessors who are judging your teamwork skills, how well you communicate with others, and the quality of your contributions. They want to see how well you can lead without dominating. Prepare your group exercise strategy ahead of the day to ensure you stand out from the crowd.

MI5 Interview

Most roles have at least one interview over the course of the recruitment process. For intelligence officers, there is a final interview with a selection board following the assessment centre. Most MI5 interviews are competency-based, meaning that they are looking for evidence of your skill set and how it matches the required competencies for the position you are applying for. Be prepared for questions probing your motivation for joining MI5 and your understanding of what working with the Security Services means.

This interview is the final stage of the recruitment process, so you want to be prepared to ensure you make it over this last hurdle. Ahead of the interview, review your application and think of more examples that you can use to answer questions. Draft answers to common questions and read up on MI5. 

Prepare for Success

Many people aspire to work at MI5, but few have what it takes. In order to get your dream job, you need to impress at each stage of the recruitment process. Being prepared for each new test is your way to do so. Prepare for your future at MI5 with JobTestPrep's resources, and position yourself for success.