Careers FAQs

hands typing infront of screen

Unlike other organisations, there are limits to what we can tell you in advance. We understand that this may cause some frustration. However once you have progressed further in the recruitment process we can tell you more. For now, here are some questions that we tend to get asked at this stage. You should, of course, make sure you have carefully studied the information on the site, especially the nationality and security clearance aspects.

Recruitment process - timescalesRead more

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 comprehensive?

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.

Security and nationality clearance questionsRead more

In my past, I've taken recreational drugs. Can I still apply?

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 application?

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 Service.

You can find out more on our National Vetting page

Your application and secrecyRead more

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 your application.

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 reference.

Will I have to sign the Official Secrets Act?

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.

MI6 and family lifeRead more

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 vouchers.

Intelligence Officer questionsRead more

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 foreign cultures.

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 feedback?

Unfortunately we do not give feedback.

Will I be expected to do an overseas posting?

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.