MI5 - Security Service

Intelligence Officer Development Programme

  1. ROLE
  5. APPLY


Ref:RV GD5 IODP March 14


Salary:£25,366 + benefits

Closing date:22 April 2014

As the UK’s national security intelligence agency, MI5 safeguards the country against threats to national security including terrorism, espionage and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

Intelligence Officers play a pivotal role in running MI5 investigations into persons and organisations of interest - liaising with experts throughout the organisation (and beyond) to help to counter the threat they pose.

The Intelligence Officer Development Programme will train you to become an MI5 Intelligence Officer. You can find out more about it here.

The Development Programme

The Intelligence Officer Development Programme is a structured programme that will cover the first 3-5 years of an Intelligence Officer’s career. It is designed to help you learn about MI5 investigations before you lead them. It isn’t a graduate programme, a fast stream or a management development scheme. Its sole purpose is to provide you with the range of experiences necessary to prepare you to run investigations.

For the first two years you will be deployed into posts that will help you develop skills with direct relevance to intelligence work. These posts will be closely related to core investigative roles – anything from Digital Intelligence to Warrantry, Intelligence Analysis to Protective Security Advice. Find out more about the areas you could work in here.

The Foundation Investigative Training course

You will complete two posts of one year each, or one posting for two years. Subject to successful completion of performance reviews and assessment, you will then advance onto the Foundation Investigative Training (FIT) course.

The FIT course will prepare you for a direct move into one of our investigative sections, in an investigative or assessment post. On successful completion of FIT, you will also be eligible to attend an advancement interview for promotion. On promotion, your salary will increase to £28,911.

Your first investigative posting

Depending on your specific role, you might find yourself liaising with translators, investigating new leads, running checks on irregular data or seeking authorisation to proceed with surveillance coverage. You could also be briefing agent runners or mobile surveillance officers, sharing information with a range of internal teams, devising strategy to take investigations forward, and updating officers from other intelligence agencies or the police on the leads you’re working on. You’ll work together to determine how to take the investigation forward.

You could be working in international counter terrorism, assessing intelligence and writing briefs to request intercept of communications on individuals of particular concern.

Alternatively, in an assessment post you could work alongside both our own investigative teams and teams at MI6, identifying emerging trends and themes in extremist activity.

Working in one of our regional offices around Great Britain or in Northern Ireland could involve managing the liaison with a regional police Counter Terrorist Unit.

Find out more about the areas you could work in here.

After successfully completing a two-year posting in one of these areas, you will be a fully trained Intelligence Officer. You will then have the choice to remain in investigative work, or move into an operational role or corporate team such as policy or Human Resources. Throughout your career you will have the opportunity to move between these areas of our work.

The future

Intelligence Officers move posts every two to three years to take on new challenges, gain different experiences and expand their understanding of MI5’s work. Your postings could take you to one of our regional offices or our office in Northern Ireland. It is likely that you will have at least one posting to a regional office during your career.

We will encourage you to shape your own career and we’ll provide extensive training opportunities through our training academy, which offers a wide range of courses from communication and presentation skills, to leadership and management and more specialist training including investigative and analytical techniques and covert operational training. Find out more about training here.

Following completion of the Intelligence Officer Development Programme, further progression through the Service is managed through a mixture of advancement interviews and gateway assessment centres at particular stages in your career. The sheer diversity of our work means your experiences will be very varied. Wherever you work and whatever particular responsibilities you have, you will find yourself at the heart of what MI5 does.

Your skills

Safeguarding the UK against threats to national security requires talented people, and those people aren’t found in any one particular section of society. Graduates from a range of backgrounds and degree disciplines join the Intelligence Officer Development Programme.

To join the Intelligence Officer Development Programme, you will need to have or be expecting at least a 2.2 degree in any discipline or have substantial, relevant, permanent work experience. We look for people who can quickly establish rapport with colleagues and are confident communicators. You’ll need to be highly organised and bring a good eye for detail. You’ll trust your own judgement and be happy to take responsibility for your own areas of work, but you’ll also enjoy working collaboratively to solve problems and make decisions. Above all, working for MI5 calls for honesty and integrity.

Recruitment process

First, you should try our investigative challenge  to see if you have the potential we are looking for. You will then be required to complete our online self-selection questionnaire. We strongly encourage you to consider the feedback provided when deciding whether or not to continue with your application.

The next step is for you to complete our pre-screening questions to find out if you meet our initial criteria. If you do meet these criteria we will then ask you to begin an application. You will need to create a login and provide your full name, email address and a memorable password. Once you have successfully created a personal account, you will be required to complete an initial application form providing contact details and equal opportunities monitoring information.

After submitting this form you will be sent an e-mail asking you to take two online tests, which form part of the formal assessment process. On receipt of this invitation e-mail, you will have up to one week to take these tests. If you do not complete both of them within this timeframe we will assume that you no longer wish to proceed with your application.

Online tests

(i) Competency questionnaire

This questionnaire looks at the key competencies and behaviours that are required for the role of an Intelligence Officer working for the Security Service. It is not timed but should take you approximately 20 minutes to complete and you will need to do this in one sitting.

(ii) Verbal reasoning ability test

This test is designed to assess the key skill of reasoning with verbal information, which is essential for the role of the Intelligence Officer in the Security Service. You will be given 25 minutes to complete the test and you will need to do this in one sitting.

If you pass both of these tests, we will invite you to complete and submit our full application form. Our recruitment team will complete an application sift of your form. The next stage, if successful, is a half day testing session consisting of an assessment exercise and a written test.

We encourage you to complete some practice questions for the Verbal Reasoning Test.  The practice questions are untimed, but please note that in the real test you will have 25 minutes to answer the 36 questions in the Verbal Reasoning Test.   The practice questions are not a compulsory part of the assessment and will not affect the outcome of your application.  If you wish to complete the practice questions for the Verbal Reasoning Test please click on the link below and you will be redirected:


Successful applicants will be invited to participate in a telephone interview. This will include competency based questions and will explore motivation to work for MI5.

Assuming you pass this interview, you will be invited to attend an assessment centre in London. This will be followed by a security interview with a vetting officer and a final selection interview.

You should read about the Vetting process and satisfy yourself that you meet the criteria outlined in the Vetting pages of the How to Apply section prior to submitting an application.

Giving misleading information or omitting or concealing information during the recruitment and vetting process is viewed very seriously. You should ensure that you follow our guidance from when you apply.

The recruitment and vetting process can take six to nine months to complete. We will keep you updated throughout the process, letting you know whether or not you've been successful at each stage.

We are currently looking for candidates to join us on the Intelligence Officer Development Programmes starting in June, September and December 2014. During the recruitment process our recruitment team will give you further information about entry dates.

Guaranteed Interview Scheme

As part of our commitment to the “Positive about Disabled People” scheme we offer an interview to all candidates with a disability who meet our minimum criteria for the job vacancy that they are applying for. This is known as the Guaranteed Interview Scheme (GIS).

To secure an interview for this vacancy, the minimum criteria (in order of application process) are:

Vacancy Eligibility Questions

You will be asked a series of questions relating to this vacancy. If you meet the criteria here you will be directed to the initial application form.

Online Tests

You will be required to reach the pass mark set for both tests.

On successful completion of the online tests and application form sift, you will be invited to interview. This will normally be a telephone interview and is our guaranteed interview.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible to apply, you must meet our residency criteria. You must be a born or naturalised British citizen and one of your parents must be a British citizen or have substantial ties to the UK.

Candidates must normally have been resident in the UK for nine out of the last ten years prior to application. This is particularly important if you were born outside the UK. You will nonetheless be considered if you have, for example, served overseas with HM Forces or in some other official capacity as a representative of Her Majesty's Government, studied abroad, or lived overseas with your parents.

Due to vetting requirements you will need to be 18 years old, or above, to apply. Your application may take around six months to process.

Discretion is vital. You should not discuss your application, other than with your partner or a close family member, providing that 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. Applying from outside the UK will impact on our ability to progress your application.

MI5 is committed to reflecting both equal opportunities and the society we protect. Work life balance is important to us at MI5 and we offer flexible working where operational commitments allow.

A day in the life

Advice for applicants

Owing to the sensitivity of our work, we do not publicly disclose the identities of our staff. Discretion is vital. You should not discuss your application, other than with your partner or a close family member, providing that they are British. You should also make them aware of the importance of discretion.