Situational Judgement & Verbal Reasoning Tests


If you haven't already, consider reading the guide on  Being an MI6 Employee

There are a range of psychometric, verbal reasoning and aptitude tests to filter candidates through stage two of the recruitment process.  Experienced teams of occupational psychologists and consultants have developed these tests. Here we provide some pointers about the recruitment process and the tests themselves.

The aim of the recruitment process is to accurately and efficiently isolate the best and most ideal candidates for selection and progression through to each stage of the online recruitment process.  'Standing still' is not an option and as such the team keeps abreast of the latest developments in recruitment processes from highly qualified and experienced occupational psychologists and consultants at consulting firms Oleeo (formerly WCN) and Cubiks Online.  As recruitment advisors throughout the UK develop more and more advanced methods of educating potential candidates as to the best methods to pass the tests, SIS has to remain one step ahead.​

There are various methods we are aware of candidates may use to pass these tests (we would strongly recommend looking at an example of what you should not do).  One method used is to create multiple registrations ie. apply under different names several times, hidden using VPNs or equivalent (no need for 'air gaps').  Each ID is then used solely to gather a greater selection of actual, current sample questions which are then listed and carefully answered in the candidates own time.  As one of the tests is timed, namely the multiple choice verbal reasoning test, candidates can create an elaborate system to quickly match actual timed questions to those previously stored.

For example.  One paragraph will contain details about a subject, often a subject not of particular interest.  The only common thread is that cumulatively the subjects as a whole tap into a broad range of topics such as particle physics or world fuel questions,.  Purposely varied to test the 'boredom' factor to see how candidates can assimilate information in subjects that would normally be of no interest.  It's all part of the process to ensure the candidate has a mind like a sponge, that can soak up information and can be applied regardless.

So, for example, the subject of the piece might be 'ant colonies' and the behaviour of ants with different tasks.  The candidate would already have printed out the question and four possible answers, possibly four times and with four different set of answers (all adding to the information database of course). 


The paragraph itself will tend to be made up of three or four sentences.  In normal circumstances, candidates will try to 'skim' quickly across the answers which might contain keywords such as 'ants multi tasking' and then flick back to the paragraph to find the relevant word.  This tends not to be consistently successful.  Instead, it is recommended you spend more time on thoroughly reading the paragraph two or three times and 'pretend' that it is the most interesting topic you could hope for.  Then, generally speaking, it will be easier to answer the questions by utilising two key psychological cues namely, an interest in the subject matter (finding something interesting is always likely to result in longer retention in short term memory), and the 'skim' or 'scanning' approach.  In other words it is a 'two pronged' psychological attack.  There is therefore an increased likelihood that you will more quickly see the answer to eliminate.  It's subtle but every second counts.  That said using the 'cheats way' make such hardship redundant.  What some candidates have done, is to notice that although the subject and paragraph might be the same across differently dated tests, sometimes SIS will throw you a curved ball and two of the four answers will be different each time. 


This would rely on two things.  A good size, quality database of relevant information, (intelligence) and, a method of quickly matching questions to the right answers whilst taking into account the' curved balls' (efficient application of 'intelligence').

To speed up the process in such a scenario, one option is to write down a key word associated with each answer.  For example, this might be written in a book ahead of taking the 'live' test:

Question One:

Topic - Ant Colonies..........


Which one of the answers below highlights the best method for increased performance in an Ant Colony?

Answers: (making note of the keywords)

              A) .........worker ants go.....

              B) ...multi tasking yields.....

              C) ..........specialisation......

              D) ...most efficient tasks....


After spending time at their leisure, the candidate might be certain the answer is C.  So, in the real test, when the question with the subject 'ant colonies' comes up, the candidate can immediately flick to section 'A'  in their alphabetical list of topics, in their pad, and have the answers to questions 1, 2 and 3 all ready and prepared.  Simple?  SIS don't make it that easy.  Just when the candidate thinks they cracked it, when its time to do the real test and 'ant colonies' comes up, the candidate might instead see:

               A) .........brown ones.....

               B) ones.....

               C) ..........big ones......

               D) ...small ants....


Basically, completely different.  What SIS (Oleeo and Cubiks) actually does is to mix up the answers.  The only chance of success is to do two things in this situation.  The candidate will either not have the answers at all, in which case leave and move on and then guess at the end, or, be prepared with several answers for each set of three questions.  To do the latter, that means registering four times within the same week to get a good chance.

In any event, what candidates will find by doing this is that at the very least the odds of success will dramatically increase.  Even with multiple answers, there is still approximately 20%-25% of the answers where answers are not pre-prepared.  However, in reality, because over 75% are, it means that within the 20 or 25 minute time, nearly all the questions can be answered correctly within a fraction of the time, leaving the candidate with time, relaxed, to answer the 25% legitimately.

This method sounds complicated which is probably why most people simply try to pass the tests in the legitimate way.  In point of fact however, the 'illegitimate' method increases your chance of success to over 75% at the very least. 


"Put very simply, the candidate registers several times with the sole purpose of building up a data bank of answers.  That is because the questions remain broadly the same although in a small percentage of cases, the answers will not always be the same 4 options.  So, armed with good quality information and a well thought out and efficiently executed method of matching questions to the answers that the person has stored, the tests are frankly, easy to pass 8 times out of least."


There are a few other methods candidates have used.  We do not condone or support using the above methods.  As you will have read, SIS is focussed on recruiting high calibre people with integrity and who are honest.  Of course some of you reading this may say, well surely the purpose is to 'get the job done' and if it means bending the rules, then so be it.  It is after all a secret organisation where lying and deception is a necessary skill.  it is perfectly normal to ask the question, especially as our enemies have very little regard to sticking to the rules.  It's difficult to know exactly how this argument is actually perceived.  The likelihood is that Section 5 will stand by the 'milk round' occupational psychologist route, whereas Section 6 may lean slightly towards less conventional means.  Who knows?  Both however, have the same goal.

The other method to pass this sort of test, and do so legitimately, is to practise on test papers provided by various recruitment and testing firms. Beware of some however, as there are some hideously expensive options and in practise they do not have actual real, used, questions.  Practice makes perfect though.

The aforementioned candidate who has chosen the 'circumvention' route might have also applied a similar method to the situational judgement tests.  These are not time limited and provide scenarios based on real situations that can occur in the working environment.  The candidate is provided with five answers and they must grade each answer according to likely relevance.  Here, the candidate will have accumulated a bank of answers from the four bogus registrations.  As there is no time issue here, the process is much simpler.  That said, sometimes too much time can be the candidates enemy as human nature is such that as we are gifted more time, our minds tend to wander and second guess. Normally your first decision and gut instinct is correct, so go with it.  Either way, the candidate who chose this less that honest method of passing, does have a markedly increased success rate.  

Also, one thing to consider is this.  MI6 and the outsourced recruitment teams should have almost certainly foreseen that candidates could and have adopted such methods to by pass the legitimate methods.  They will almost certainly have the ability if necessary to monitor key stokes, IP location, delays between registration etc and are therefore very likely to know if a candidate has chosen these clandestine methods.  If for some bizarre reason they have not, then maybe, once you get the job, you might want to 'have a word'.  After all when, in 1982, Michael Fagan broke into Buckingham Palace to sit with the Her Majesty, the upshot was significantly more robust security after he exposed a weakness in the system. In essence therefore, he helped.  Although some might say a somewhat tenuous argument, it is nonetheless, true. That said, MI6 relies on the honesty and integrity of its candidates, so you would be far better off adhering to the recommended methods.In summary, practise all you can and remember cheats never prosper. ​

We would recommend you use your time effectively to practise tests which can be obtained relatively easily online.  Keep a clear head, keep noise and distractions to a minimum and above all, stay relaxed when taking the tests. Control your breathing and view each test as a fun opportunity to get to where you want to be.  It sounds crazy, but it works. 


Finally, brush up on your thoughts on exponential technological digitized growth.  By definition, when you read this, things will already have moved quickly.  Five years is the new fifteen years, two years the new five and so on.  The six D's have a natural theoretical tendency to level the 'technological playing field' and regardless of how the exponential growth curve changes in shape, our intelligence agencies have to stay ahead of it.  Unlike their corporate counterparts, the potential consequences of not doing so go far beyond the loss of money. 

Visit Practise Tests HERE at Cubiks Online

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Wuhan conspiracy theories aside, diplomatic traction is the reward.


A week or two ago we wrote an article "Conspiracies & Ripples" which focused primarily on conspiracy theories and kicked off with the rather obvious statement that a conspiracy theory is simply a theory without the facts i.e. just a theory.  Within that we highlighted that ‘flavour of the month’ theorist’s delight, the origins of the Coronavirus and its links to Wuhan.  This echoed our views published in February which, as many did, ponder the chances of this remote coincidence maybe actually being true.  Since then there have been swathes of articles on the topic citing all sort of sources and from numerous ‘renowned’ scientists.  We have also recently had the opinions offered by those whose opinions really count, that this virus originating from the labs in Wuhan may not actually be so far-fetched after all.

We do tend to agree, or at least we did.  That was then and this is now and in the world of Politics things move quickly and one does have to look at the reality of the situation.  If there is enough fog between you and your destination, then sometimes the route you take can change, leaving you all sorts of options.  If the objective was originally to circumnavigate through uncertain waters to establish who, what, why and when the virus came about – then that is now lost in the fog.  It is arbitrary.  Now we have something that is far more concrete and tangible to use to our advantage – we have uncertainty.  We now have enough debate and conspiracy to render the findings of the scientists open to interpretation.  And that… is a diplomat’s dream come true.   This particular carcass will feed many and although the WHO will go in, on the ground, and no doubt find yet more uncertainty…it really is irrelevant.  You will certainly not find individual government’s chomping at the bit to send their representatives into Wuhan anytime soon, and even if they did, why?  Wuhan is not some sleepy suburb in leafy Northamptonshire… it is in China.  Whatever was there has long gone, if indeed it was ever even there.  So perhaps it would be wise to assume that at least for the next few decades this is a conspiracy that will never find out those salient facts. 

Now, listening to the scientists, there is an overwhelming urge to say, “shush now”.  Step back ladies and gentlemen and look at the bigger picture at play.  Nobody is actually interested whether or not the virus started in Wuhan, intentionally or not.  As long as it is open to debate, it is far more valuable.  The scientists have debated at length and argued, but there is still no unequivocal proof either way that satisfies all parties…and why could that be?  Scientific fact is not open to debate or questioning, that is a given.  However, to say Science is correct, is not true.  That is because Science has Scientists, and Scientists are human beings who in turn are fallible and motivated by many many other factors.  In China for example, one might say that scientific fact is exactly what they want it to be.  Indeed, who is to say it ends in China.


So why is uncertainty such a blessing in this case?  It provides an additional bargaining chip and a weapon in the armoury for all Governments to now use against the Chinese.  Maybe on the other side of the fence their own initial conspiracy theory that a foreign Government (the US) planted the virus in their midst, is being written about in their own press.  Or maybe not. The fact is it is a safe bet to assume that no body will ever know.  There will be no compensations or admissions of guilt in this case sadly…however the capillaceous network that is politics, diplomacy and economic negotiations will be the real beneficiaries.


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