Maybe you're just stupid. You obviously don't have the smarts and intellegence to be a spy. So, why even look up how to be a spy if you're too lame to be one?
How to be a spy
With MI6 advertising for recruits for the first time in its 97-year-history, how easy is it to become a spy? Ed Loveday (not his real name), who once interviewed for the secret service, gives his tips
I nearly didn’t make it through the door. No, literally. The doors in the place where I was interviewed (I’d love to tell you its name, but I had to sign the Official Secrets Act promising not to) were tall glass cylinders, and one half slid gracefully into the other – allowing you in – then clicked inscrutably back into place behind you so you were trapped inside. I still have no idea what kind of scanning took place for the ten seconds I remained in the transparent tube, but eventually the other half whispered open, and, disoriented, I walked into a security man. Luckily, the interview is much easier.
DON’Tbe surprised by Mr Halliday‘Hello, I’m Mr Halliday,’ you may be told by your interviewer, ‘and these are my colleagues, Mr Halliday and Mr Halliday.’ Coincidence? A particularly bald-faced form of nepotism? None of the above. MI6 interviewers rarely reveal their real identities, so certain stock names are used by anyone involved in the selection process (Halliday is a favourite). The important thing is not to scream ‘impostor!’ and try to tear your interviewer’s face off like in ‘Mission: Impossible’ because he doesn’t look like the bloke who was introduced by the same name last time.
DOhave some stories up your sleeveI was asked for examples of times I had persuaded people to do things that they believed were wrong. In an effort to impress Mr Halliday, I made up something suave and worldly about talking my way past Nicaraguan border guards without a visa during my year off. Halliday asked me what country I was entering Nicaragua from, and I realised I had no idea which countries shared its borders (‘Um… the Philippines?’).
DON’Tadmit to having told everyoneThere’s only one real reason people want to join the secret service: to pick up boys if you’re a girl, to pick up girls if you’re a boy, and to pick up boys if you’re a boy who went to public school (many in MI6 are). Halliday said that ‘even at this stage’ (this stage, presumably, being laughable fantasy) I shouldn’t tell anyone I’d been talking to the Secret Intelligence Service. The correct ‘cover’ (he actually used that word!) was to say I was applying for a job at the MoD – which is pretty stupid as it’s likely to attract nearly as much interest as MI6. I suppose not even the interests of national security can persuade spies to say they work for DEFRA.
DOchoose your referees carefullyUnlike other employers, MI6 actually checks. If it’s interested, it’ll ask for eight referees, who between them can cover your entire life. It’ll ask your colleagues about your alcohol consumption, your university friends about membership of political groups, your bank manager about your finances, your partner about drug use, and your schoolfriends whether they ever suspected you might be a sexual deviant. No real friend will be able to resist the temptation to say (for ‘a laugh’) that you’re a debt-ridden, cross-dressing, coke-snorting, revolutionary alcoholic. So best choose those you’re not actually that close to.
DON’Tmention the ‘B’ wordThey asked me why I wanted to work for the Service. I said, ‘Would it sound stupid if I said I sort of wanted to be like James Bond?’ They said yes it would. There was an uncomfortable silence. I didn’t get offered a job.
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