Getting an Interview
Getting an Interview
Interviews for Top Jobs at CIA
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Open Source Officer Interview
I applied online. The process took 10+ months – interviewed at CIA (Reston, VA) in August 2010.
I applied online to the CIA the March before I graduated and was asked to take a test about two weeks later. The test was an open-dictionary timed translation for the 4 languages I spoke (Arabic, Farsi, Dari, and French), plus a fun analysis section in English. When the test was finished a message popped up saying I’d hear back in 6-8 weeks. I called my contact 9 weeks later who gave me the run around for a few calls before telling me I passed and a program manager would contact me in two weeks if they wanted an interview. I called back 3 weeks later and was told, “Oh yea. They want to interview you.”
The interview was pretty standard. They asked questions about times I displayed leadership, teamwork, creativity, diversity and a few other qualities. One of the interviewers had been tracking AQIM, a group I had written a research paper on, so we talked about that for a while. Two weeks later, about 5 months after I first applied, I received an offer. With signing and language bonuses, I would be tripling my salary.
A few months later, they scheduled a time for me to come down for an office visit, psych eval, polygraph, etc. They originally scheduled it for Dec 30-Jan 1, then called back a week later to let me know that was a holiday and rescheduled for a week earlier. They gave me the wrong address for the office visit so I was 30 minutes late. That didn’t matter, though, since the office was never informed I was visiting. Everyone there seemed nice enough and passionate about what they were doing. The next day was the polygraph. They freaked me out by saying I had failed a question, but I found out that out of 8 other people there, they told 7 they failed the same question. All came back the next day and “passed”.
About 3 weeks later, I received an offer from the Foreign Service. I called my would-be boss who I had met at the visit and told her. It was still about a year until I would get an assignment, so I said I wanted to work with her until then. She said that was great and she’d be happy to accommodate me. A week later, I received a letter saying I had been ruled “unsuitable” for the position and I should apply again in a year.
The process did little to instill in me faith in the competence of the organization (among other problems, they didn’t know where Philadelphia was, insisting I fly to DC, and spent about an hour grilling me on my high school drinking habits). I’m far from alone. Most of my classmates in Arabic and Farsi went to Google, Deloitte, or McKinsey and none have gone to the CIA. I was single-minded back then and badly undervalued myself. I can’t imagine tolerating what I did from a hiring process again.
- They asked me to give examples of when I displayed a few characteristics. Each one was one of the State Department's 13 dimension. Answer Question