Mandarin Chinese Language Opportunities Ref. 1978

Black History MonthMind Silver AwardThe Times Top 100Disability confident leaderThe Prince's Responsible BusinessStonewall Diversity ChampionThe Guardian UK 300 logoSocial Mobility Employer

Cheltenham, London
Outside London: total rewards package in excess of £28,500 Within London: in the region of £32,000

Your knowledge of Mandarin could open up a fascinating career in intelligence. By joining MI5, MI6 or GCHQ, you can play your part in protecting the UK and its interests.

Job description

We are looking for Mandarin linguists for roles that will go well beyond translation and transcription. It takes knowledge of the culture, history, politics and ideology to fully understand the original idea. And if you can do that, you can enable MI5, MI6 or GCHQ to make the right choices to help safeguard national security.

It’s genuinely interesting work that will test your judgement, your people skills and your linguistic ability every day.

The roles

You’ll be using your language skills to provide intelligence insights, working at the core of our operational teams and you will work with a range of government departments.

At MI5, you’ll carry out core language analysis work in support of investigations and develop your own career path focusing on the areas that most interest you, be it assessments, investigations or agent running. We have opportunities for promotion within the team, leading to more strategic understanding of the work we do and mentoring of junior colleagues. There are opportunities to develop your language skills.

At MI6, you’ll work as an integral part of an operational team, sifting Mandarin language material against customer requirements to identify reportable intelligence that will shape and influence the team’s operational decision-making. You may have the opportunity to become a subject specialist, train in interpreting or learn new languages. Later, you may earn promotion as a linguist or branch into a different role in the organisation. Whatever your career path, you will be part of a community of dedicated and talented linguists, working together on projects that really make a difference.

At GCHQ, you will be the first line of assessment of the intelligence value of Mandarin language material which may include highly technical and specialist terminology. However, you don’t need to already be technically experienced as full training will be given. GCHQ has a large language community and there are opportunities to progress to senior language positions which have greater or broader responsibility.

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 – the work of linguists helps to identify and counter threats to the UK from terrorism, espionage and proliferation. MI6 works overseas to gather intelligence that helps protect the nation and its interests. GCHQ is focused on technology and cyber, collecting foreign intelligence which linguists translate and analyse to protect the UK from terrorism, hackers, espionage and organised crime.

Grow and develop

You'll be working alongside like-minded people from a variety of backgrounds in a culture with a strong focus on learning and development. You’ll be supported to enhance your linguistic skills further, for example by specialising in a specific dialect. Your all-round development will be promoted too.

The skills

Your language skills could come from growing up in a multi-lingual family, or you may have studied Mandarin to a high level.

Your linguistic skills need to be complemented by good knowledge of China's cultural affairs, history, politics, ideology and economy. You also need to combine an analytical, enquiring mind with strong powers of judgement and good people skills.

To ensure you pass our language tests, you will need to be able to comfortably read newspaper articles and understand news broadcasts in Mandarin. You’ll be able to translate from Mandarin into clear, well drafted English.

Our Mandarin practice test will enable you to assess your suitability for a role at one of the agencies. 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.

Recruitment Process

If you wish to apply, the first thing we will ask you to do is complete our pre-screening questions to see if you meet our initial eligibility criteria. If you do, we will then ask you to begin an application. You’ll need to create an online login. You can do this by providing your full name, email address and a memorable password. Once you have successfully created a personal account, you will be required to complete an online application form.

As well as basic biographical details and your education and employment history to date, you will need to provide details of your Mandarin language skills and any other languages you have learned. You will be asked how you learned the language, how you currently use your language skills and to what standard you can speak, read and write these languages and dialects. You will be asked about your interest in Mandarin language and culture and what appeals to you about using Mandarin in your work.

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

Our recruitment team will complete an application sift to assess how far you meet the job specification. Successful applicant will be invited to attend a Mandarin language test to check whether or not you have the skills we are looking for.

At the language test, we will assess your Mandarin language ability across a range of tasks. There is an emphasis on listening and reading comprehension as well as translation.

Assuming you pass the Mandarin language test, you will then be asked to attend an assessment centre which will include a face-to-face interview and other recruitment exercises.

We particularly welcome applications from women and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic candidates.

This Program / Vacancy is closed to applications.