How long does the recruitment process take?
It varies. For most positions you will be expected to go to two
interviews, after which you will go into the security clearance
phase of the recruitment process. The whole process can take
between six and nine months and we must ask you to bear this in
mind when you apply.
Why is the security clearance so
We will never compromise on security. The nature of our work is
such that our employees have access to a wide amount of sensitive
information. Should this information get into the wrong hands, then
national security would be put at risk. Consequently, we owe it to
both our staff and the public at large to insist on the most
stringent security clearance procedures. All candidates will
undergo a process of Developed Vetting.
Will I be required to sit any tests?
Probably, yes, although, again, this will depend upon the nature
of the position you're applying for. Any tests you do take will be
designed to assess your aptitude or suitability for the job.
In my past, I've taken recreational drugs. Can I still
Yes, but you must be prepared to stop using them completely. We
are unable to accept applications from anyone who has used Class A
drugs (ecstasy, cocaine, etc) in the last 12 months, or Class B/C
drugs (amphetamines, cannabis, etc) within the last 6 months.
Are there any other issues which may affect my
Yes. We cannot accept applications from anybody who is currently
being treated for an addiction (alcohol, gambling, etc) or has
received such treatment in the last 12 months; has ever suffered
from manic depression or schizophrenia; is currently bankrupt or
the subject of an Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA).
Do I need to be a British citizen?
Yes. In addition, at least one of your parents must be a British
citizen or have substantial ties with the UK (if deceased, the
parent must have had British citizenship/substantial ties with the
UK). You will also need to meet our residency rule. Normally this
means that you will need to have lived in the UK for the majority
of the last 10 years. British dual nationals may apply but
must be prepared to renounce their other nationality before joining
if this is required.
Is there an age limit?
You must be at least 21 years old at time of entry to the
You can find out more on our National Vetting page
Can I apply while overseas?
All candidates should launch their applications via the
website from within the UK. Those based overseas must wait
until they visit the UK before launching an application.
Applying from outside the UK will impact on our ability to progress
Who can I tell about my application?
You may tell your parents, close partner or
spouse, provided that they are British. You should also make them
aware of the importance of discretion. Please note that if you tell
anybody else, your application may not be successful.
What should I say to my Referees?
At this stage, nothing. References are not taken up until later
in the recruitment process. At this point, only put down names of
potential referees who may be willing to provide a reference. You
should not inform them of your application. We will discuss with
you what to tell them prior to approaching them for a
Will I have to sign the Official Secrets
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgment of the obligations
under the Official Secrets Act (1989). All information about our
recruitment process and other candidates is covered by the OSA and
entrusted to candidates in confidence. An unauthorised disclosure
could constitute an offence under section 5 of the OSA.
How family-friendly is MI6?
We make every effort to accommodate the individual needs of our
staff and take our employment responsibilities very seriously.
Wherever possible, we try to ensure that family life is not
disrupted. To this end, we offer generous maternity pay, a
subsidised children's holiday play scheme and childcare
What is the career structure like
for Intelligence Officers?
All Intelligence Officers undergo an initial training
package before joining their first operational section. They will
remain in operational jobs for most of their career, but will be
offered a variety of roles. Subject to suitability and relevant
training officers can move between different roles.
Some Intelligence Officers may decide at a later stage in
their career to apply for senior management positions.
Will there be travel opportunities?
All Intelligence Officers will be expected to travel. Trips
may be for a few days or weeks. At various points in their
career, Intelligence Officers will live and work overseas.
Can I apply if I am still at University?
Final year students may apply provided they are at least 21
years old. However, as with other candidates, undergraduates who
are interested in becoming Intelligence Officers will want to
consider whether they will be able to demonstrate an interest in
What type of degree do you require?
Intelligence Officer candidates will need to demonstrate strong
intellectual abilities. This will usually be evidenced by a good
academic record up to degree level (Upper / 2:1 or above). Academic
achievement is more important to us than the University attended or
the course studied.
If I am unsuccessful in my application will I be given
Unfortunately we do not give feedback.
Will I be expected to do an overseas
As we are a foreign intelligence service, most Intelligence
Officers will spend some of their career overseas.
Will I be expected to serve in dangerous and difficult
situations, for example Afghanistan or Pakistan?
There is an expectation that, early in your career, you will
serve in a challenging environment although personal circumstances
will be taken into consideration.
What are my promotion prospects?
MI6 is a meritocracy and promotion is based on performance
in the job.
Will training be provided?
All Intelligence Officers go through a rigorous training
process shortly after joining the organisation. Continuous training
is provided throughout your career.