I applied online and the process took 3 months - interviewed at CIA in October 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).
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