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CIA Assessment Test, Recruitment Process & Interviews Online Preparation – 2024

Aptitude Employment Tests Prep

What Is the CIA?

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a U.S. organization tasked with gathering and analyzing information regarding national security. The Agency does not have any power as a law enforcement agency. Instead, they only serve in an intelligence-gathering capacity and report their findings to other agencies, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as needed.

The CIA was founded by former President Harry Truman in 1947 and strives to keep the country safe from domestic and international threats. Six fundamental values are at the heart of the Agency and which all employees must embody:

  • Courage: The work at the CIA is often challenging, stressful, and high stakes.
  • Excellence: Employees at the CIA must use their experience, leadership skills, and tools to make the best out of the diverse backgrounds represented in the Agency.
  • Integrity: CIA agents must act according to the highest standards and present no personal bias in their investigations.
  • Service: Agents must give themselves to the service. The nation must come first in any situation, followed by the Agency, the unit, the mission, and the self.
  • Stewardship: Sources and methods used by the CIA must always be protected.
  • Teamwork: CIA agents must work together as a team. Collaboration, diversity, inclusion, and equity are of the utmost importance.


Working for the CIA

Those interested in working for the CIA should research the Agency, the requirements to apply, and the different career paths before completing an initial application.



The first qualification for working at the CIA is a dedication to the six fundamental values previously mentioned. The CIA’s work can be hazardous and affect physical and mental health. To succeed in this career, you must have unwavering dedication to all six values and embody them throughout the application process and your time at the Agency.

In addition to your value system, you must satisfy a few basic requirements. You must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Reside in the U.S. at the time of application.
  • Be over the age of 18.
  • Be living in or willing to relocate to Washington D.C.
  • Submit a background check.
  • Submit to a polygraph exam.
  • Pass a physical examination.
  • Pass a psychological examination.


CIA Career Paths

Professionals who want a career at the CIA have five sectors, known as Directorates, that they can enter in the Agency. Each has a specific function, and each Directorate has particular job roles. These agency sectors are:

  • Directorate of Analysis: Agents in this Directorate are in charge of the analysis and presentation of intelligence. Several analysts work together in this department to solve problems, deliver reports that detail their findings, and present actionable steps forward for the Agency. Some job titles in this sector inclu
  • de Military Analyst, Targeting Analyst, and Analytic Methodologist.
  • Directorate of Digital Innovation: This Directorate is the IT and programming department. They gather intelligence and protect the U.S. from cyber threats. Positions in this sector include IT Engineer, Data Engineer, and Applications Developer.
  • Directorate of Operations: Agents in the Operations Directorate are the hub of Human Intelligence. They often live overseas or in D.C. and work undercover to collect foreign intelligence and complete covert missions. Some job titles in this sector include Operations Officer, Specialized Skills Officer, and Collection Management Officer.
  • Directorate of Science and Technology: This Directorate supports operations with emerging knowledge of leading-edge technology and innovative science. Some of the roles in this department include Technical Targeting Analyst, Technical Developer, and Technical Researcher.
  • Directorate of Support: The last department is the Directorate of Support. Agents in this sector perform essential business functions such as HR, supply chain, and logistics. There are 30+ career paths in this sector alone, and some of those titles include Accountant, Legal, and Physician.

The CIA also offers job opportunities for those early in their careers, including various internships, scholarships, fellowships, and graduate programs.



Being employed by the CIA comes with a host of benefits, including:

  • Excellent salary, plus overtime, holiday, and premium pay
  • Health, dental, and vision insurance
  • Three hours a week of excused absence for physical fitness
  • On-site fitness facilities
  • Flexible scheduling
  • On-site and subsidized daycare
  • Sponsorships for further education and training
  • Help with student loan repayments
  • Retirement savings
  • Annual leave
  • Sick leave
  • Ten federal holidays per year minimum


What Is the Hiring Process at the CIA?

Online Application

The online application is the first step to being considered for a position at the CIA. The CIA application is lengthy and thorough, and you will be asked to supply the following information:

  • Contact details
  • Education History
  • Previous work experience
  • Job preferences
  • Foreign language proficiency
  • School transcripts
  • Writing samples
  • CV

You will also complete a questionnaire that asks about your history, security clearances, military history, and any other issues or details that could impact your application to the Agency.

The application must be submitted via the online CIA Job Portal. Job seekers may submit applications for up to four jobs at a time if they choose to do so.


Aptitude Tests

A recruiter at the Agency will review your application, and if they think you may be a good fit for the Agency, you will graduate to the next stage in the hiring process: the assessment stage. The tests here will vary based on the position you applied for, but all candidates should prepare to take the following psychometric exams during recruitment.


Spatial Reasoning Test

One assessment you will likely encounter during the recruitment process is the spatial reasoning test. Agents in the CIA must be able to think outside of the box and approach situations with a critical mindset. The spatial reasoning exam tests this ability and indicates how well you can quickly process information under pressure and use your critical thinking skills to solve the problem.

The test is non-verbal and will rely on shapes and images. Most of the time, test takers will receive a series of 2D shapes that they must imagine in a 3D space and manipulate the shape. For example, you may need to find the mirror image of a shape or manipulate a shape in some way.

Because of the uniqueness of this exam, it can be difficult if you are unfamiliar with the question types. Therefore, it is essential to practice for this test ahead of time and research testing tips for this exam.


Sample Question:

When put together properly, the top three puzzle pieces will create one of the following shapes (A-D). Note that a side marked X has to touch X and a side marked Y has to touch Y. Choose the correct answer.

Spatial reasoning sample question 1


Spatial reasoning answer 1

Answer: B


Abstract Reasoning Test

Like the spatial reasoning test, abstract reasoning tests are also non-verbal and rely on shapes and images for their questions. The abstract reasoning test will present a series of images that have an underlying rule or pattern that you must deduce to select the missing image or the next shape in the series. These are multiple-choice questions, so you will have several shapes to choose from for your answer.

To do well on this exam, you will need to be able to identify the patterns and apply that knowledge quickly. The best way to practice this skill is by using online practice tests and other preparation tools so you can become familiar with the question type.


Sample Question:

Which of the following shapes comes next in the series:

    Abstract Reasoning Sample Question 2

    Abstract Reasoning answer 2

    Answer: A


    Numerical Reasoning Test

    Some roles may also require you to take a numerical reasoning test. This exam will assess your ability to work with numbers. You will be tested on basic mathematical concepts and your ability to apply those concepts to solve problems. In addition to introductory algebra and geometry problems, you must interpret and analyze data from graphs, tables, and charts.

    It is important to note that you will not need an advanced understanding of mathematics to do well on this exam. The test only requires basic calculations, focusing on understanding and applying the information.


    Sample Question 1:

    Solve for b in the following equation if a = 5.

    4(25 + a) + 15b = 10a

    1. b = 1
    2. b = 2
    3. b = 3
    4. b = 4

    Answer: B


    Sample Question 2:

    What is the value of x in the triangle below?


    1. 42◦
    2. 50◦
    3. 51◦
    4. 62◦

    Answer: C


    Deductive Reasoning Test

    Deductive reasoning is an essential skill for all Directorates at the CIA. Most positions will require you to think logically and analyze situations confidently. This test will assess your ability to receive information and use that to make a logical conclusion.

    The test may be image-based or verbal. The image-based test is similar to the abstract reasoning exam. However, the verbal exam will use a series of structured statements that you will need to go through and determine if a given information is true, false, or if you cannot say.


    Sample Question:

    • All cars have blue tires.
    • Tracy’s bike is yellow.
    • Sam’s car is red.

    Sam’s red car has blue tires.

    1. True
    2. False
    3. Cannot Say

    Answer: A


    Personality Test

    In addition to the aptitude tests, you will also take a comprehensive personality test. Doing well on the personality test is essential to the recruitment process because the CIA wants to ensure you have the right traits and values to do well in the agency.

    These questions are typically given as statements; you must decide how much that statement describes you or does not. While some will be obviously related to the role you are applying for, others will be more general to learn more about how you work best and behave in a workplace environment.

    There aren’t technically right or wrong answers on this personality test. However, your responses will be compared to a control group to determine if you have what it takes to be successful in the agency. While it is essential to be honest on this exam, you will want to research the agency, study their values, and understand what type of person they are looking for before taking this exam. That process will give you a better idea of what they will be looking for in your test responses.


    Sample Question:

    If a task is too difficult, I will wait for someone else to do it.

    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neither agree nor disagree
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree


    Situational Judgement Test

    You will also take a situational judgment test (SJT). The SJT examines how you would likely behave in various workplace scenarios. The test will present a simulated workplace issue and several possible responses, usually similar to something you may encounter in your role. You will need to analyze the situation and choose the best answer from the choices. Some tests may also ask you to identify the worst possible response.

    How you react in these situations will give the agency a good idea of how you would behave as an agent. It is essential to choose responses that align with the agency’s values and how they want their agents to react in certain situations. Preparing for this exam by researching the agency will help you do well on this exam.


    Sample Question:

    It is your first day working as an analyst for the CIA. You are looking through a dataset and notice something that could be a red flag. Which of the following is the best possible response?

    1. Ignore it. It is your first day and you don’t want to cause any trouble.
    2. Come back to it later after you have looked at the database more.
    3. Do nothing and hope someone else notices it too.
    4. Bring the issue up to your supervisor so they are aware of it.


    Answer: D


    Skills Test

    Lastly, some positions may require you to take an additional skills test for specific knowledge needed in that role. For example, if you join the agency as a programmer or software developer, they may ask you to take an exam that tests your knowledge of a specific programming language.


    Interview Stage

    Candidates who do well in the assessment stage will move on to the interview portion of the hiring process. At a minimum, you should expect to participate in two interviews:

    • Phone Interview: The phone interview will serve as an initial screening interview. The recruiter will confirm the information you provided in your application and ask questions to learn more about you and why you want to join the CIA. This is also an excellent opportunity for you to ask any questions that you may have about working for the agency.
    • In-Person Interview: Successful candidates will be invited to Washington, D.C., to complete an in-person interview. This may also include a panel with multiple interviewers. This discussion aims to learn more about your motivations and behaviors and your knowledge of the agency.


    Security and Medical Evaluations

    Those who do well in the final interview stage will receive a conditional offer of employment. At this time, you must complete an SF-86, which is 130+ pages of background information on you and your family and any foreign interests you have. This questionnaire will lead to a thorough background check and a polygraph exam.

    Lastly, you must participate in a thorough physical and psychological examination to ensure you are physically and mentally fit to serve as a CIA agent.


    How to Prepare for the CIA Assessment?

    The CIA pre-employment process is long and thorough. The best way to show the hiring team that you should be part of the agency is to do well on the various assessments. Doing well on these tests will tell the agency that you have the skills and personality traits required to succeed as an agent.

    To do well on the exams, you must adequately prepare ahead of time. Several free online resources, such as practice tests, allow you to run through sample tests to rehearse your timing and give you examples of what types of questions will be on the exam.

    Applicants who take the time to incorporate practice tests into their study plans tend to do better on the exam than those who do not.