I Interviewed with the FBI

Sam Kellen The FBI. You can hardly hear that acronym without thinking of black-suited secret agents and television crime dramas; and like most people, I'd harbored midday fantasies about how working for such an agency could dramatically improve my life. If not with the pay scale, then with the excitement.

I was an international business major in college at the time I decided to send my resume the way of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for I was facing the thought of coming out of college with a pile of student debt, a stagnant job market, and little to no prospects of a secure job right out of graduation. "Sam," I told myself, "it can't hurt, can it?" If the FBI rejected my application, I certainly couldn't have been any worse off than I already was.

A careful preparation

I submitted my resume online, after agonizing over its format and content (or lack thereof) for nearly a month, and had a return phone call within three days. Turned out that a local recruiter was doing a presentation at my college that very same month and I was invited to sit down for the presentation and have my interview afterward. At that point, I was ecstatic! An interview is an interview.

For my presentation and interview ensemble, I chose a conservative skirt suit in dark charcoal with a pale blouse, low heels and similarly conservative makeup. Sensible. I printed out copies of the resume I'd sent, as well as some pertinent notes from the research I'd done.

Before I go on, I have to say that no one, anywhere, should ever go to a preliminary interview without doing research. Doesn't matter if you're applying to McDonald's or the president's office -- your researching might yield valuable information that might set you apart from other applicants, or make you realize that it's just not the job for you. Either way, it's a lifesaver.

I started my research by looking at the agency's hiring portal. Afterward, I started contacting people I knew who'd had experience with the agency, starting with my mother, who'd applied 10 years earlier and had ultimately turned down their offer of employment. It was her advice, by the way, that influenced my wardrobe decision.

I arrived to the presentation a full 20 minutes early; but to my dismay two other people, similarly attired and holding folders that I was sure also contained resumes, had made it there before me and were happily chatting away with the presenter. Not to be outdone, I slid into a second-row seat, and before long was invited to join the conversation, which was mostly centered around the humid Florida weather. As time wore on, the room filled, and about five minutes later than scheduled, the presentation began.

A thorough briefing

It was typical of what you would expect from a hiring presentation that was geared toward college students: a slide show, a middle-aged presenter who was able to offer a few personal and comical anecdotes, lots of statistics and a lot of time spent underscoring the potential upside of federal employment, which is having a secure job with great benefits. The atmosphere was casual enough to make even those who'd come to the presentation in jeans and a T-shirt feel at ease (and there were at least a handful of those), and I felt satisfied and curious by the end.

I still remember the major points, even years later, that the FBI's biggest need was for linguists, and that having a strong lingual background (preferably with fluency in languages like Spanish and Russian) was virtually a guarantee of a job offer. And that, for those who had no language experience, employment was competitive -- for not only were members of other law-enforcement and government agencies applying, but people from a variety of backgrounds in the public sector were as well.

However, they did let us know that there were certain programs geared for those in college (like me), meant to help us overcome those hurdles. A number of internship opportunities existed, as well as a special college recruiting plan, for example.

When the presentation adjourned, the recruiter moved to an adjoining room in order to interview each applicant individually. By luck of being the closest, I was allowed to proceed first. The recruiter had seated himself at the opposite end of a long boardroom table, and in front of me had a copy of my resume. Nervous doesn't even come close to describing how anxious I felt.

A long wait

The process was simple, however. He inquired about some areas of my past employment (a blessedly brief scenario, given my lack of prior job experience) and we spent several minutes discussing why I'd chosen to apply with the FBI. We also discussed experiences I would hope to gain from my potential employment, whether it was acceptable that my employment might necessitate cross-country moves, and the details of the training requirements for FBI agents.

During the close of the interview, I inquired as to why the application didn't require any drug tests or background checks. As it turns out, these are only a requirement after you get a conditional approval for employment, which minimizes costs to both interviewees and the bureau. Congenial to the end, the interviewer walked me to the door and informed me that I should receive a follow-up communication within a month.

It was one long month. I checked the mail religiously, which was somewhat out of character for me at the time.

Nearly three weeks later, I found a polite response in the mail that I was, in short, not hired.

That was something I'd been gearing myself up to hear; for after all, I didn't have any special linguistic background, nor did I have any special talent like technological know-how that would have been of particular interest to the bureau. Still, it was a worthwhile experience for me to go through the interview process, despite not ultimately getting the chance to live out my fantasy job.

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Ataklar Emlak

tekirdağ çerkezköy satıkık arsa

October 10 2011 at 5:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
teresa strasser

Once you join the FBI you give up all your personal freedom they watch your every move.what you eat,if you drink more than a six pack a week,if you watch porn,gamble and on and on all for 40-75,000 a year

February 08 2011 at 2:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to teresa strasser's comment

you dont know what your talking about you moron dont you have anything else to do besides showing everyone how big of a idiot you are

July 29 2011 at 7:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow.....Dude you must have had some really BAD...experience with law enforcement or the Men in Black...Haaaaaaa

February 08 2011 at 1:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

After reading your comments, I don't think you'd have to worry about the FBI hiring you. With your intelligence you probably couldn't get a job sweeping out their garages.

February 08 2011 at 1:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The FBI is not all its cracked to be.They have alot of baggage.When the FBI started with Hoover, that was the FBI.

February 08 2011 at 1:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to mitchell's comment

Hoover started the baggage are you kidding me? The difference is that Hoover was over stepping his boundaries back then during a time when the intelligence community was still very young and the FBI had a much freer hand as well not so many agancies were in place at that time. As time went on the lines between the various intelligence agencies became more defined and much of what Hoover was doing that was considered over the top, is now done by other agencies.

February 08 2011 at 1:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

hoover thats when the FBI wore womans clothing. To be sure it must pay to be gay in the FBI when they go under cover they go UNER.

July 29 2011 at 7:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Another yawner! Why is this ridiculous fluff piece even newsworthy? It's a waste of time and print space. It was, however, laughable!

February 08 2011 at 11:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When I graduated from high school in 1969 I received "letters concerning employment opportunities" from some local and national agencies due to my high SAT scores. I even received a credit card! My parents urged me to reply to the letters as a way of expanding my business skills. The FBI responded by showing up in our driveway, introducing themselves to my mother and obtaining permission to wait in their car for me. I was attending a local business college studying computer programming but did not always return home after classes ended at 1pm. After 4 days I did meet with the men with my parents present. After many discussions, I declined the job offered which would have been in the fingerprint division. I ended up with a degree in Psychology and eventually worked for vendors of mainframe system software, the best money. Back then I was denied admittance to the Duke U degree in Para-psychology, but if I'd gone with the FBI could I have eventually worked in the X-Files division? I'll never know.

February 08 2011 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have worked with government agencies all my life. No one ever gets a government job if during the interview they express an idea. Government agencies are above all looking for people who will maintain the status quo. Talking about change, even the thought of it will get you nowhere.

February 08 2011 at 11:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lou Britt

The subject may have been lucky that she was turned down. Much of the work is tedious in the extreme, which would be acceptable to only nonextroverted people. For instance, a former co-worker left the FBI because he had to spend many boring hours doing such work as staking out the homes of suspected bank robbers. The work is much less exciting than the TV shows indicate.

February 08 2011 at 11:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Allan Davis

That's it? I thought there would be something of interest in the story.

February 08 2011 at 11:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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