Click edit button to change this code.

A career at MI5 is like no other, and their recruitment process is no different.

Counter-terrorism, recruitment, counter-espionage and corporate communications cover the majority of jobs one can expect to undertake in their first few years at MI5.

MI5’s selection process is very thorough. Only the absolute best candidates are selected, but with proper preparation you can make it and get your dream job with the Security Service first time. Check out expert advice, recommendations and tips from Graduates First to pass MI5’s aptitude tests, interviews and their assessment centre.

We are a team of organisational psychologists and recruiters, who have worked for major test developers and multinationals, and our only goal is help you get the job, first time.

The Security Service, also known as MI5, is the United Kingdom‘s domestic counter-intelligence and security agency, employing around 4,000 staff in a variety of roles.

Due to its worldwide fame, propelled by James Bond movies, there are thousands of highly skilled applicants wishing to work for MI5. This is why you need to smash every part of the recruitment process – and in the article below we show you exactly, step-by-step, how you can achieve that. There is no room for mistakes if you want to get into the Security Service.

MI5’s job applications and assessment process is divided into 6 stages:

  1. MI5 Online application form
  2. MI5 Online aptitude tests
  3. MI5 Written exercise
  4. MI5 Telephone interview
  5. MI5 Assessment centre
  6. MI5 Final interview


Online application form

At this stage you will be asked to fill in the online application form. Make sure you give all the necessary information, as this will form a basis for any future references. Do spend some extra time to make sure that this form will reflect both – you as a person, but also as an ideal candidate for MI5.

Key skills MI5 are looking for:

  • discretion
  • integrity
  • resilience
  • organisational skills and time management
  • excellent communication skills

You will be required to provide details of your education history, academic results and relevant work experience.

Tip: When it comes to submitting your completed application, earlier is always better – often candidates are assessed on a rolling basis, so submitting early increases your chances. Always double-check the application form for any mistakes before submission.

Tip: Make sure you have a copy of all the information you have provided. You may be asked for details during the interview. Know your CV inside out. If the information in your application and information shared during the call are different, your application may be disregarded for future processing.


MI5 assessments
Online aptitude tests

Once your application has been screened and assessed positively, you will be invited to sit MI5’s online aptitude tests.
These will include MI5’s:

  • competency questionnaire,
  • verbal reasoning test

The difficulty level of the MI5 online tests will depend on the business area and position you applied to, so be sure to carefully read all the information in the aptitude test invite email.

MI5 Competency Questionnaire

This test will assess whether you posses the key competencies and behaviours required for working in the Security Services. Questions will be based on real life scenarios you are likely to experience working for MI5, and will ask you to identify the best course of action given the particular circumstances.

Tip: The only way to successfully prepare for this assessment is to do a lot of background reading about the nature of work at MI5. With each question try to think of the solutions that firstly reflect the competencies required in a given position, and secondly about what would be the most practical and logical response to such a problem.

Tip: Always read all the answers before you use your judgement to evaluate any of the options given. Otherwise you are very likely to be biased towards some of the options and will not be able to successfully compare all the possibilities.

MI5 Verbal Reasoning Test

MI5’s Verbal Reasoning Test will determine how confident you are in extracting information from a previously unseen passage of text, to identify whether the following statements are: true, false, or impossible to say based on the information contained in the passage of text.

MI5’s Verbal Reasoning Test could potentially be more challenging for non-native speakers in English, but the advice we give to everyone is to practice verbal reasoning test questions beforehand, as this allows you to understand the specific way in which the texts are built and questions asked. The format of questions is very different to anything you would experience at school.

Tip: To have a better understanding of what is required of you, always start by reading the passage first before even looking at the question. Make sure you fully understand the text and only then should you attempt answering the question.

Learn more about verbal reasoning tests

  • For more hints on how to pass a verbal reasoning test, visit our Youtube channel

Remember, you will have around 45 seconds to answer questions like the following

MI5-style Verbal Reasoning Test Example

MI5-style Verbal Reasoning Test Example

MI5-style Verbal Reasoning Test Example

Got the answer? Check it out at the bottom of the page.

For more FREE QUESTIONS similar to MI5’s online aptitude tests, register with Graduates First  and take your FREE verbal reasoning test now!


MI5 Written exercise

After you have successfully passed MI5’s online aptitude tests, you will be invited to take a written exercise assessment.

In this exercise, you will work on your own to prepare a response to a case study problem, in the candidate brief provided to you. You will need to develop your arguments fully, and will need to persuade the recipient towards your team’s recommendations.

Tip: The best practice is to start by analysing all the information and planning your response; only then should you start writing your response. Be sure to check your grammar and spellings throughout the essay, and be cautious of the time that you have been allocated – sometimes it might be better to skip some points in order to finish in time.

Before we press on, we suggest you look at a written exercise that is similar to the one MI5 will use 


Telephone interview

The next stage of the recruitment process is a telephone interview, which usually takes around 25-30 minutes. Anything that you included in your CV might be discussed in this interview. This is why it is so important to look through your CV and make sure that you are able to evaluate every point you make.

This interview will be competency-based (CBI). Be ready to discuss specific examples in which you demonstrated certain skills: determination, teamwork, leadership skills etc. Think about your previous projects and experiences, from your professional-, academic-, private- or fitness-related life.

Each of your answers should ideally follow a STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) model in your responses, in which you need to refer to each of the four points mentioned above; explain what the particular situation was, what task you were faced with, what action you took and what the result was.

Want to know what questions could come up in your interview? Graduates First can help with our proprietary Question Identifier Tool (QIT).


MI5 Assessment Centre

The next stage of the MI5 recruitment process is an Assessment Centre, during which you will be assessed across a variety of exercises. These may take form of the:

  • MI5 Group Exercise

This assessment examines your ability to communicate and reach conclusions as part of a team. Throughout this task you will be observed by MI5’s recruiters, so try to demonstrate your strengths; share and explain your ideas, but also be open to build on somebody else’s input and develop on their points, try your best to persuade others towards your opinions and also ask thought-provoking questions. Above all – stay calm and speak in a confident and clear manner.

Learn more about Group Exercises

  • MI5 Role Play Exercise

You will be given around 20 minutes to work in a pair and analyse a set of information. You and your partner will then need to prepare your response. In the second part, you will be representing MI5, and your interviewer will be representing a second party based on the situation in the candidate brief. In this task, you will need to prove your negotiation skills, teamwork and analytical thinking.

Learn more about Role Play Exercises  for more help.


Final Interview

Before this interview you need to learn as much as you can about MI5 and its work culture. You need to have a high level of understanding of MI5’s mission, any relevant recent big news and its future developments.

The Final Interview at MI5 is also your opportunity to find out more about the company and the team you might be working with. However, asking interesting questions in the interview is about so much more than this. Come equipped with some thought-provoking questions, stand out from the competition and demonstrate your genuine motivation and enthusiasm to work in the Security Service. They want to see your genuine interest to work for MI5, and not as just another ‘job seeker’.

Do you want to pass your MI5 assessments first time? Sign up for tools offered by Graduates First, the only aptitude practice test experts that provide tests to over 70 UK universities and their students, and also across Asia and continental Europe.

Go to Graduates First now and select from the range of products we offer at no risk. We offer a comprehensive premium package with a full set of assessment tools for job candidates (numerical, logical, verbal reasoning, situational judgment tests, assessment centre exercises and more). Buy with peace of mind without commitment to a full 100% money back guarantee.

Answers to questions:

Verbal reasoning test: B

Click edit button to change this code.


Look through our test options if you still feel like you need some help.