GCHQ ASSESSMENT CENTRE
If you are successful in passing the telephone interview, you will be invited to attend the next stage of the selection process. This stage is the GCHQ Assessment Centre. This consists of a series of difficult exercises and tasks that you will need to complete, before finally taking both a drugs test and a face to face interview.
The exercises that you’ll take are likely to include:
- A report writing exercise
- A case study analysis exercise
- A verbal reasoning test
- A numerical reasoning test
- A personality questionnaire
Now, let’s look at each of these stages in more detail:
GCHQ REPORT WRITING EXERCISE
In this section, you will be asked to construct a written report or proposal based upon information provided to you. Your report will require you to come up with solutions to problems discussed in the passage or documentation that you’ve been given.
This is a really important exercise. It closely mirrors the type of activities that you’ll be required to do when working as an intelligence analyst. A central part of an intelligence analyst’s role involves writing up in-depth intelligence based reports, detailing their findings and suggested solutions to problems/ threats. You’ll find yourself completing paperwork on a constant basis, and it’s vital that this is filled in correctly. Along with good spelling, sentence structure, grammar and punctuation, your report/proposal needs to show GCHQ that you are someone who can think logically about intelligence based situations, and make good decisions. It is no good constructing a well written report if it doesn’t address the issues at hand. The information that you will need to assess can take a wide variety of forms, but the topic will largely be based around a fictional intelligence scenario.
To try out real sample report writing exercises, purchase our fantastic guide!
GCHQ case study analysis
The second exercise that you might need to take at the GCHQ assessment centre is a case study analysis. A case study analysis is similar to the previous report writing exercise, but will require greater attention to detail and logical thinking. The case study analysis will also be intelligence based, meaning that you’ll be asked to provide recommendations on a fictional major crime or terrorism related incident, and not simply a case of anti-social behaviour.
Due to the nature of the exercise, you can expect the case study analysis to be lengthier than that of the report writing. GCHQ do not expect you to be a high level expert in dealing with criminals and terrorists, so they will provide you with enough information to help you come to critical decisions. However, they will also provide you with enough information to steer you off track. Your job is essentially to sift through the information, and establish what is relevant and what is not, before providing logical solutions to the problems presented.
One of the best ways to go about dealing with a case study exercise, is to highlight all of the key points. Remember that you will be given a lot of irrelevant information. You need to highlight the key points so that you can come to quick and logical solutions for dealing with them.
GCHQ NUMERICAL REASONING
The next exercise that you will have to take is a Numerical Reasoning test. Once you reach the assessment centre stage of the process, you can expect to take harder Numerical Reasoning questions than in the earlier online test.
To give you an idea of what to expect, take a look at the sample Numerical Reasoning question below. This should act as a guide to help you complete the more difficult questions.
The diagram below shows the plan of a building site. All angles are right angles. What is the area of the building site? Give your answer in Hectares
1 Hectare = 10,000 m2 = 2.47 acres.
A – 60 Hectares
B – 40 Hectares
C – 44 Hectares
D – 4.4 Hectares
Answer: C = 44 hectares
Explanation: Work out the area of the whole shape: 1200 x 500 = 600,000
Work out the area of the missing rectangle (to make a complete rectangle): 800 x 200 = 160,000
So, 600,000 – 160,000 = 440,000m².
440,000m² in hectares = 440,000 ÷ 10,000 = 44 hectares.
GCHQ verbal reasoning
The next exercise that you will have to take is a Verbal Reasoning test. Since you have now reached the assessment centre stage, you can expect the type of Verbal Reasoning questions to be harder, and also to follow a slightly different format. The new questions that you will need to answer are relatively straightforward, and still require the same skillset; however you will need to concentrate fully in order to succeed.
To sample the new, more difficult verbal reasoning questions, check out our amazing guide!
GCHQ personality questionnaire
The final written assessment that you will need to take at the assessment centre, is the personality questionnaire. This is a unique exercise, which will test whether your personality is the right fit for GCHQ.
The test itself will take a number of hours to complete. The reason for this is that the test is extremely extensive. You’ll be asked to complete a number of sections that require either true-false or scale-based answers to the questions.
The reason that GCHQ do a personality questionnaire is because it is integral for them to establish what kind of a person you are, before you join. Generally, they will be looking for a particular type of person. When you are answering the personality questions, you should always be honest, but at the same time you need to think about how your answers will make you come across to GCHQ. For example, if you tell GCHQ that you are quick to anger, how well do you think this will sit with the assessors?
Following the written assessments, you will take a drugs test, which will be followed by an interview. This interview will be competency based, and is the first of two separate interviews that you’ll need to take if you wish to successfully join GCHQ as an intelligence analyst. In this section, we’ll cover both interviews.
GCHQ Competency-Based Interview
This is the interview that you’ll take at the assessment centre. It will last roughly 20 to 30 minutes, and will test you on your knowledge of the core competencies. You may also be asked 1 or 2 initial questions about your skillset, expertise and knowledge of the organisation.
The GCHQ Competency Interview will test you on your knowledge, understanding and application of the core competencies. You’ll be asked to give specific, in-depth examples of a time when you have demonstrated a particular quality or competency. It’s important to remember when answering these questions that you need to tell the interviewer what you DID do, and not what you would have done. Using this knowledge, you can prepare your answers to the competency based questions beforehand.
Typical competency based questions might include:
- Can you give an example of when you have worked as part of a team, to achieve an objective or goal?
- Can you give me an example of a time when you have demonstrated your communicational abilities?
- Can you give us an example of a time when you have analysed specific data, in order to make improvements?
For the answers to all these questions and more, check out our comprehensive guide!
GCHQ Final Interview
If you are successful in your assessment centre interview, you will then face a significant waiting period. During this period, GCHQ will conduct an extensive vetting process on you and your background. Following the vetting process, if you are successful, you will be invited back for one final interview. This interview will be different to the previous one, in that it will not be competency based. Instead, this interview will focus on your values, your motivations for joining GCHQ, and your knowledge of the organisation.
If you have reached this stage, then you can be confident that GCHQ are seriously considering employing you. However, don’t be too relaxed, as the challenge isn’t over yet. The final step that you need to take is in convincing them that you are the right person to join their organisation. That is the purpose of this interview.
Typical final interview questions might include:
- Tell me about yourself
- What have you learned about our organisation since applying to us?
- What are your biggest strengths?
- How do you see yourself fitting in with our organisation?
For the answers to all these questions and more, check out our comprehensive guide!