Upholding federal laws, working alongside other government agencies, and protecting the nation from a multitude of threats– is all but a few responsibilities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. What makes it a truly elite member of the US Intelligence Community is the agency’s high hiring process standards when it comes to the pre-employment screening procedures that it uses to select only the best job candidates for the demanding work duties that most of the agency’s job positions require.
What Makes Being an FBI Special Agent So Great?
What makes so many job seekers pursue careers in the FBI is the high level of care that this agency has for the needs of its personnel. On top of the average annual pay of up to $140,000 that comes in the form of a steady government paycheck, and the work in the nation’s elite intelligence agency being both personally and professionally rewarding, an FBI special agent can expect the following various benefits that result solely from the fact of being employed by the US Government and the Federal Bureau of Investigation:
Federal Employment Benefits Programs
(available to all federal government employees)
Federal Employees Health Benefits Program
Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program
Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Program
Federal Flexible Spending Account Program
Federal Thrift Savings Plan
Special Agent Benefits Programs
(available to all FBI employees who are employed as special agents)
Special Agents Insurance Fund (SAIF)
Charles S. Ross Fund
Public Safety Officers’ Benefit (PSOB)
Other FBI Benefits Programs
(available to all FBI employees)
Employee Benevolent Fund
Justice Employees’ Transit Subsidy (JETS)
Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)
University Education Program (UEP)
FBI Sabbatical Program
Time Off Benefits
(available to all FBI employees)
As you can see, the FBI comprehensive benefits plans are designed to foster health, happiness, and satisfaction among the agency’s employees and serve as a significant motivating factor for so many job seekers aspiring to be employed by the FBI, especially as the agency’s special agents.
How Hard It Is to Become an FBI Special Agent?
Trying to get hired as an FBI special agent is an immensely difficult endeavor. The FBI hiring process is extremely competitive by design, and you can expect it to be especially rigorous when it comes to getting hired as a special agent for the agency. The statistics suggest that every year the FBI approves approximately 720 special agents for training at the FBI Training Academy. This number, however, amounts to only 3% of the overall number of applicants who try to become FBI special agents.
What It Takes to Become an FBI Special Agent
Understanding that the FBI hiring process is rigorous and highly selective, you must prepare yourself for the following challenging steps of the FBI hiring process:
Submitting Your Application: Certain factors within your application, such as being a graduate with a degree in relevant fields – such as criminal justice or homeland security – as well as any relevant professional experiences, specialized skills, or your understanding of the FBI mission and role will be considered as part of determining whether you are a qualified FBI job candidate.
Taking the FBI Phase I Assessment Test: You will find details on what to expect from and tips on how to prepare for this FBI test later in this article.
Internal Review: After passing the FBI Phase 1 Test and going through the follow-up interview, your application case will be processed and reviewed by the FBI headquarters.
Taking the FBI Phase II Assessment Test: You will find details on what to expect from and tips on how to prepare for this FBI test later in this article.
Receiving Conditional Job Offer: After passing the FBI Phase 2 writing assessment and interview, you will receive a conditional job offer that will imply that you undergo further FBI pre-employment screening procedures such as taking the FBI Physical Fitness Test, the FBI Basic Field Training Course, and background checks.
What Is the FBI Special Agent Exam? Phase I Assessment:
The FBI Phase I Test is the first part of the FBI special agent exam. It is a fully computerized exam that is administered in a proctored environment. Within the scope of this FBI exam psychometrics, special agent job candidates undergo an accurate assessment of their aptitude across five key areas:
Logic-Based Reasoning Within this section of the FBI Phase I Test you will be presented with a set of facts in the form of a short paragraph followed by a set of multipe choice answers. You will have to analyze and use your problem-solving and reasoning skills to determine what inferences can and can not be made based on the facts presented.
Figural Reasoning Within this section of the FBI aptitude test, you will be presented with a set of images that include a sequence of shapes and patterns with one section of the arrangement missing. Using your problem-solving and reasoning skills, you will have to determine which one out of the next pictures logically fits within the missing pattern – which may involve any aspect of the figures, including shape, color, number of shapes or sides, or other characteristics.
Personality Assessment This section of the FBI entrance exam evaluates those aspects of your personality that are essential to succeed as an FBI special agent. After being presented with five pairs of statements on each screen, you will have to indicate the degree with which you agree with one of the two statements. This part of the FBI assessment test is based on adaptive approach psychometrics which means that your responses on the previous questions will be used to determine the next set of questions you will be presented with. Overall, you will have to deal with 100 statements within this section of the FBI special agent test. You will not be able to select a neutral position on any of the statements.
Preferences and Interests Within this section of the FBI entry test, your personal attitudes towards a variety of statements will be assessed. You will have five response options to choose from – on a rating scale between “strongly agree” and “strongly disagree” – for each of the 37 statements you will be presented with.
Situational Judgment In this part of the FBI exam, your judgment ability about everyday situations will be evaluated. After being presented with various scenarios, you will have to choose one of the five offered response options that best sums up your natural judgment of the situation and most accurately describes how you would react to a given situation in a real life environment. Based on your answers to 19 such questions, your ability to analyze and deal with various life scenarios and situations effectively using your problem-solving ability will be assessed.
What Is the FBI Special Agent Exam? Phase II Assessment:
The FBI Phase II Test is the second part of the FBI special agent exam. It consists of two main parts: a writing-based assessment and a structured interview.
The first part is a written exam with a time limit of 90 minutes that tests your ability to apply your analytical thinking skills in preparation of various written documents routinely used by FBI special agents as part of their daily work duties – such as reports. In this section of the Phase II FBI exam, you will be given background materials to analyze and base your written report on.
The second part is a structured oral interview between you and an examination panel that is designed to further assess the skills and abilities you need to possess to succeed as an FBI special agent. Despite the interview process being adaptive, most structured interviews follow a certain logic based on common sets of questions.
A Free Sample Question:
Based on the situation in the following free example, pick the answer to the question that you find most suitable.
Example situation: “You are assigned as a manager to oversee a complex project that involves seven different teams. Three of these teams are on schedule to meet their set deadlines. The other four teams have fallen behind and are at risk of missing their assigned deadlines due to unforeseen staffing issues. For the project to be a success, all work must meet the set deadlines and stay on schedule.”
Question: “What action would you take to make the project a success?”
Multiple choice answers:
“Talk to each of the teams that have fallen behind their scheduled deadline and find out what I can do to help get them back on track.”
“Request overtime for the four teams that fell behind their deadlines.”
“Inform upper management of the situation and that unforeseen staffing issues are causing setbacks in my project.”
“Reassign the team leaders for the groups that have fallen behind to get the project back on track and meet future deadlines.”
How to Prepare for the FBI Phase I and Phase II Assessment Tests
As you can see, the FBI entrance exam is a diverse assessment of your aptitude for the work duties that FBI special agents routinely perform as part of their jobs. How can you increase your chances of successfully passing both Phase I and Phase II of the FBI entrance exam?
Ensuring your ability to stay confident during the examination is a very potent exam preparation strategy. To gain high levels of confidence during your FBI entrance exam, you can use the help of various online FBI test prep materials, distributed by various assessment centers.
Regular practice with the sample FBI practice tests and FBI exam study guides that are rich in free examples and explanations to the most common questions and answers used in the FBI assessment tests will help you gain familiarity with the FBI written exam before even taking it.
Being able to make the most of your knowledge and skills, as you will be free from the need to fight exam-associated anxiety so common among many FBI job seekers, will allow you to successfully demonstrate that you are the right candidate for the job of an FBI special agent.