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Mandarin Chinese Language Opportunities Ref. 1396

Cheltenham, London
Up to £31,981 depending on skills and experience

Your knowledge of Mandarin could open up a fascinating career in British intelligence.   Join MI5, MI6 or GCHQ and you could play a key role in helping to keep the UK safe from external threats.

You will be using your language and analytical skills to provide intelligence insights which often have direct impact on UK government policy and decision making.  Your challenge is to seek out the important information from Mandarin language material and make that material accessible and understandable to others.  You will play an active role in driving forward investigations to help counter terrorism and espionage, working right at the heart of intelligence.  It is interesting work, which will test your judgement, people skills and linguistic ability every step of the way.

The agencies:

There are openings for Mandarin specialists at all three of the UK’s intelligence agencies.  MI5 is responsible for the domestic security of the UK and the work of our linguists helps to identify and counter threats to the UK from terrorism and espionage.  GCHQ works overseas to gather intelligence that helps protect the nation and its interests.  MI6 uses its expertise in technology and cyber to collect foreign intelligence which linguists translate and analyse to protect the UK from terrorism, hackers, espionage and organised crime.

Who we are looking for:

Your language skills could come from growing up in a multilingual family or you may have studied Mandarin at university to degree level.  You certainly need a passion for the language and an ability to translate its nuances into clear, well-drafted English.

Your linguistic skills need to be complemented by a good knowledge of Chinese culture, history, politics, ideology and economy.  You also need to combine an analytical, enquiring mind with strong powers of judgement and good people skills.

Grow and develop:

You will be working alongside like-minded people from a variety of backgrounds, in a culture with a strong focus on learning and development.  You will be supported to enhance your linguistic skills further, for example, through ongoing language maintenance classes.  You will also receive training on non-language aspects of the job, including more technical skills.

Our Mandarin practice test will enable you to assess your suitability for a role using this language in the UK Intelligence Community.  The test does not reflect the full complexity of the challenges offered by our Mandarin specialist roles, but is indicative of the type of skills successful candidates should be comfortable using on a routine basis.

Rewards and Benefits:

In return, you will receive a range of benefits and the opportunity to strike a good work-life balance.  Plus, you will come to work every day, knowing you are playing an invaluable role in helping to protect the UK.

Before you apply:

Honesty and integrity are crucial if you want to work for the intelligence agencies.  You should read about the vetting process and satisfy yourself that you meet the criteria outlined in the vetting pages of the ‘how to Apply’ section, prior to submitting an application.

Giving misleading information and omitting or concealing information during the recruitment and vetting process is viewed very seriously.  You should ensure that you follow our guidance from when you apply.

Please note that if you have applied for a Mandarin vacancy at MI5, GCHQ or MI6 in the last 12 months and have been unsuccessful at the language test stage, you will not be eligible to reapply for this role.

Recruitment process:

The recruitment process for this role is outlined below (in order):

Eligibility Questions – you will answer a number of questions based on the requirements for the role.

Online Account – you will need to create an online login.  You will need to provide your full name, email address and a memorable password.

Application Form – you will be asked to provide background about your education and employment history, as well as details of your Mandarin language skills and any other language(s) you have learnt and your motivation for using Mandarin in a role in intelligence.

In the application form, you will be asked if you would like to be considered for Mandarin vacancies in London or Cheltenham.  We cannot guarantee which agency you will join.  However, if you are successful, we will explore this with you in the latter phases of the recruitment process.

Language Tests – you will be invited to attend a Mandarin language test in London and this will assess your Mandarin language ability across a range of tasks including listening, reading comprehension and translation.

Assessment Centre – if you are successful at language testing, a decision will be made as to which agency will best suit your skill set and this agency will invite you to attend an assessment centre.  MI5 or MI6 run their respective assessment centres in London.  For GCHQ, the assessment centre will take place in Gloucestershire.  This will include a face-to-face interview and other exercises.

Security Interview – this is an important part of the selection process.  It is an interview to explore your life and experiences and is not a competency or capability-based interview.

Guaranteed Interview Scheme

As part of our commitment to the “Disability Confident” scheme, we offer an interview to all candidates with a disability who meet our minimum criteria for the job vacancy that they are applying for.  This is known as the Guaranteed Interview Scheme (GIS).

Along with the standard eligibility requirements for this post, your application will be assessed on how far you meet the job specification based on your application and your Mandarin language ability.  On successful completion of this stage, you will be invited to the Mandarin language test, which is our guaranteed interview.

Eligibility criteria:

To be eligible to apply, you must meet our residency criteria.  You must be a born or naturalised British citizen and one of your parents must be a British citizen or have substantial ties to the UK.

Candidates must normally have been resident in the UK for nine out of the last ten years prior to application.  This is particularly important if you were born outside of the UK.  You will nonetheless be considered if you have for example, served overseas with HM Forces or in some other official capacity as a representative of Her Majesty’s Government, studied abroad, or lived with your parents.

Due to vetting requirements, you will need to be 18 years old or above to apply.  Your application may take around six to eight months to process.  

Discretion is vital.  You should not discuss your application, other than with your partner or a close family member, providing that they are British.  You should also make them aware of the importance of discretion.  You should not post on social media sites about your application or discuss it with anyone else at this stage.  You will receive further guidance during the recruitment process.

Please note you should only launch your application from within the UK.  If you are based overseas, you should wait until you visit the UK to launch an application.  Applying from outside the UK will impact on our ability to progress your application.

The intelligence agencies are committed to reflecting both equal opportunities and the society we protect.