CIA Interview Questions & Reviews
Getting an Interview
Very Difficult Interview
Intelligence Analyst Interview (Neutral Experience; Very Difficult Interview)
I applied online and the process took 2 days - interviewed at CIA in April 2009.
Interview Details – Interviewed for the Stokes program. After a long screening process, they fly you in, give you a number of presentations and tours, making you all excited to work for them. Then you spend a day interviewing, the questions in general are pretty tough but its all just a test. A scenario interview question was asked.
Analyst Interview (Positive Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied online and the process took a day - interviewed at CIA in January 2008.
Interview Details – The interview lasted for about 1 hour. The questions were both about my professional qualifications, along with my personal situation. At one point the interviewer had me explain to him my understanding of the political situation in a region outside the US. I could choose the region I told him about. The interviewer was very interested to know my language skills.
Interview Question – Tell me, in detail, your understanding of a political situation of a country outside your area of expertise. Answer Question
Staff Operations Officer Interview (Positive Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied online and the process took 10 months - interviewed at CIA in March 2012.
Interview Details – Begins with the online application. From there, there is a telephone interview with a recruiter, basic behavioral interview questions. They will also go over your resume with you. After that, you will be invited to an information session, where they will explain in detail the particulars of working for the agency; immediately following that, there will be a one-on-one interview with an agent or former agent. In addition to standard interview questions, there are also things such as current event knowledge questions and role playing scenarios. Assuming you get past this stage, you are then flown out to DC for at least three day There will be a another 1:1 interview, this time even more detailed and with more role-playing scenarios. Finally, there is an interview with a psychologist, which is very much so like a behavioral interview, just way more intrusive and detailed. From there there are two options: you receive a rejection letter (which I did); or you receive a condition offer of employment, which is conditional upon the completion of a deep background investigation that normally takes another 6 months to a year to complete, in addition to medical testing and a polygraph test.
The main bad thing about the interview process was that it was SO LONG. From the date of my initial application to my final rejection just before the COE, it was a total of 10 months. If I had made it further, it would have been as much as another 12 months before I could enter on duty. Which can make rejection that much more painful.
Other than that, though, it was a pleasant interview process. Anyone who applies and makes it even to the info session should consider themselves lucky: the Agency gets tens of thousands of applications for each position it opens--just making the cut is an achievement. If you are lucky enough to make it to the second round of interviews, they fly you out and reimburse you--and usually you do have enough free time to enjoy the area a bit.
Interview Question – Describe in detail an international current event, and how is it important to American interests? Answer Question
Political Analyst Interview (Neutral Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied through college or university and the process took 4 months - interviewed at CIA.
Interview Details – Applied online after meeting a recruiter at my university. Heard back a month later and completed some basic intelligence and personality tests (LSAT and Meyers-Briggs type questions). Also sent in a more detailed explanation of my qualifications, particularly related to foreign travel. Phone interview was a month later, then after another month I had an in-person interview. Both were very straightforward and focused on my writing, research, analytical, and teamwork background in a lot of detail. My advice to candidates who get this far would be to stay on your toes, up to date on current events, and know your resume cold as you will be grilled on it. Overall impression of the interview was that it was extremely thorough but also exhausting. Heard back within a month with an offer and then began the security clearance process, which is a whole different saga. If you are fortunate enough to get an offer, make other plans because you won't start for a long time. Apply, then forget about it until the next step comes along.
Interview Question – What, in your opinion, are the three biggest intelligence challenges facing the United States? View Answer
Negotiation Details – I was extremely happy with the initial offer. Not sure how negotiating would go as this career really isn't about the money, plus you're dealing with a government bureaucracy that has an endless supply of qualified candidates.
Operations Officer Interview (Neutral Experience; Average Interview)
I applied online and the process took 3 months - interviewed at CIA in August 2010.
Interview Details – First step consisted of an online application for one or more positions. I was told later on that there is a hierarchy among the various directorates as to which gets first crack at the candidates available with Operations being first on that list.
About a month later I was contacted and asked to set up a phone interview. The phone interview lasted around 30 min and consisted of some basic personal questions and a few general knowledge items regarding the agency and its mission.
Several weeks later I received a packet asking for more information. The response included several personal / motivation for applying questions and an essay about a current international issue. In addition to the written material, I had to take an online personality assessment and IQ test.
About a month after that I was contacted by phone (a negative response comes in the form of a letter) and invited to an information session in the Northern VA area and asked to set up an appointment for the first 1:1 interview. The information session was with a large group of people, lasted around 5 hours, and covered all the basics about positions within the Operations Directorate and general details about life undercover.
The interview is scheduled within a week of the information session and was conducted at an off-site agency building. The interview was conducted by a retired Operations Officer and consisted of basic interview type questions (resume review, motivations, strengths, weaknesses, life choices, etc...) In addition I was asked to discuss another current foreign affair (different from the previous essay) and also participated in several role playing exercises based on typical duties of an officer.
I choose not to pursue the position after that point, but from what I learned the next step (1-2 months later) consisted of a three day round of a 2nd 1:1 interview (similar to the first), another aptitude test, and psychological evaluation. Upon successful completion of that, candidates receive a conditional offer of employment. From there you must pass medical and background checks. Overall the process from application to start date can take up to or more than a year.
General Thoughts: The process requires a long time to complete. An understanding of the concept of cover is important. Checking out some of the suggested reading material (provided early on) is a good idea. Overall a career in intelligence is probably less interesting that you would have thought (at least that was the case for myself).
Analyst Interview (Neutral Experience; Average Interview)
I applied online and the process took a day - interviewed at CIA in February 2010.
Interview Details – Laid back interview, about a half hour, basic behavioral. Seemed a little unorganized, but the security at the place was intense. After an hour long presentation (nothing new, all mostly found on the website), I waited about two hours before the interview. This was about two months after a lengthy testing process. Open, welcoming.
Interview Question – Explain an experience in which you had to deal with time constraints and many commitments. Answer Question
Project Management Engineer Interview (Positive Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through college or university and the process took 6 weeks - interviewed at CIA in October 2009.
Interview Details – Got an interview by attending college career fair. Was 2 on 1 with behavioral questions. Recieved offer in the mail about 6 weeks later.
Interview Question – Tell me about a time when you faced a challenge. Answer Question
Reason for Declining – I wouldn't want to take the polygraph and wouldn't want to live on the east coast.
Analyst Interview (Positive Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through college or university and the process took a day - interviewed at CIA in September 2009.
Interview Details – It was a normal behavioral interview. One specific question she asked was to relate a current event to the CIA and give a briefing on it. Overall extremely friendly.
Interview Question – Please give a current event that relates to the CIA Answer Question
Intelligence Analyst Interview (Positive Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through college or university and interviewed at CIA.
Interview Details – I attended a campus recruiting session and earned a campus interview for the next day. Heard back 2 months later with a call and a COE.
Interview Question – 5 or 6 standard behavioral questions Answer Question
Intern Interview (Positive Experience; Easy Interview)
The process took a day - interviewed at CIA in September 2010.
Interview Details – Talked to a recruiter at a university career fair about an internship as a weapons analyst. Received a call that night for an on-campus interview the next morning.
Interviewer was nice and the interview was relatively relaxed. Asked a set of standard behavioral questions and also asked what in my opinion was the most important issue America was facing. Questions were mainly focused on leadership experience.
Interview went well but was unable to continue with application process because I was planning on some international travel between the interview and the internship period when the background check would be taking place.