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Want to be a Spy? There Is a Test for That!

Posted December 30, 2017 12:00 AM by M-ReeD
Pathfinder Tags: intelligence Internet

Having made the discovery fairly early on that I am unfit for most professions, I still harbored a quiet hope that I would someday experience work in one of the few professions I fantasized about as a child.

Along with professional book reader, solid gold dancer and all-around story-teller, I imagined myself excelling as a secret agent.

Though I couldn’t tell you what it was that shaped this fantasy, it seemed to me to be the perfect marriage of travel and intrigue. Even as an adult, reading the occasional spy novel, I considered myself capable of conducting covert missions, led, naturally, by my own intuition.

Unfortunately, that fantasy was dashed this week as I struggled to complete the online test to become a spy for Australia’s secret service.

Breaking with traditional recruitment efforts, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) has gone high-tech by posting an online test to determine ones’ fitness for becoming a spy. The test, which is open to the public, gauges the taker’s answers to questions about scenarios that the applicant is walked through. The applicant is expected to demonstrate that he or she is perceptive, empathetic and smart and possesses great attention to detail.

At first blush, it seemed to be a perfect fit….

Smart

After an unsuccessful first attempt where I somehow managed to lose track of the volume settings on my computer, I had to start the test all over again.

Undeterred, the first task involved filling in a number to complete a pattern. I am pretty certain that I nailed it, but I guess we’ll never know for sure...though my history with both numbers and patterns might suggest otherwise.

Empathetic

In a scenario meant to gauge whether or not the applicant is both empathetic and persuasive, I was asked to fill in the correct field of multiple choice answers for convincing an overworked airline customer service rep to give me a seat upgrade while simultaneously showing my concern about the day she was having.

Bingo. This is likely the (only) part of the test where I managed to even make an impression on the folks at ASIS — less for my persuasiveness and more for my ability to complain with others.

As the test continued, things went rapidly downhill.

Perceptive

I have only recently discovered that I am not as perceptive as I once fancied myself. How do I know? The test included a segment where I was shown pictures of characters that I would later have to identify. Of the six characters that would reappear in the background of a flight scenario, I managed to identify only one of the characters and it was only because they bore a striking resemblance to a reality show cast member (see Smart).

…and farther down the hill it went.

Attention to Detail

Again, if you had asked me yesterday, I probably would have told you that this is where I would shine. I am all about the details. Just ask the people I live with…and micromanage.

To measure an applicant’s attention to detail, the test used overlapping video of the same character telling three different stories at once. It was up to me to cull three details from the overlapping stories. I managed to extract maybe one detail and it was this: This woman talks too much!

While the character droned on, I was instead imagining my new secret-agent life in Australia, surveilling those hoping to harm that country, and sweeping in at just the right moment, saving the country and its people, thanks in part to my attention to detail.

Annoyed by the character’s ceaseless chatter, I tried to supply the three necessary details to complete the test. I filled in the fields as best as I could, knowing all the while that my answers were incorrect.

Dashed Hopes

The test concluded, to my great surprise…and dismay, with an immediate rejection, forcing me back to a reality where my initial suspicions were confirmed. I really am unfit for most professions.

To take the test as well, go to: https://www.morehumanintelligence.com.au/

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Anonymous Poster #1
#1

Re: Want to be a Spy? There Is a Test for That!

12/31/2017 1:56 AM

Holy cow. I didn't ever want to be a spy, even if it meant having Mrs. Peel as my partner. But I took the test out of curiosity.

I correctly answered the elevator buttons problem, but I sped through the others, annoyed at how impossible I found them. I was clicking randomly just to finish quickly.

BUT WHEN I DID FINISH, the next web page said I had "some" of the qualities they were looking for. Then I was given what appears to be a unique alphanumeric code, encouraged to apply for the position of "intelligence officer", and given the link to the application!

This has me sufficiently creeped out that I decided to post anonymously here.

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#2

Re: Want to be a Spy? There Is a Test for That!

12/31/2017 9:57 AM

Here are a few words a person might need to know to be an Australian Spy ( Nark )

A good lurk, prang, berko, bushranger, chook, wharfie, good oil, paddock, neddies, drongo, back of Bourke, lolly, piffle, never-never, snag, jumbuck, belt up, digger, Alf, num-nums, tomato sauce, jocks, billabong, Sheila, bludger.

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#3

Re: Want to be a Spy? There Is a Test for That!

12/31/2017 12:40 PM

There once was a spy from Rhode Island,

he looked for secrets but couldn't find them,

so he made up fake news,

from fringe journalist views,

and was flushed from the ranks by memorandum...

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Re: Want to be a Spy? There Is a Test for That!

01/04/2018 8:37 AM

This is not a new idea. In WWII, the British newspaper "Daily Telegraph" held a crossword solving contest. The winners were recruited for cryptographic code breaking jobs at Bletchley Park.

http://www.newstalk.com/How-Crossword-Puzzles-won-the-Second-World-War

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Re: Want to be a Spy? There Is a Test for That!

01/13/2018 3:22 AM

There is a book called "Can You Pass These Tests?" (Maybe more than one such book.) The toughest exam I saw was for British wine master; another goodie was for New York City cab driver. I don't recall this particular version as having a test about spying, but my wife scored pretty well as a police detective, which she has never been or done.

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Re: Want to be a Spy? There Is a Test for That!

01/16/2018 9:07 AM

A young man and his wife were walking past their local police station when the man saw an ad on the noticeboard that said "Detectives needed immediately. Apply within."

Excitedly, he told his wife to wait for him while he went inside and asked to be considered for the job.

The cop on the front desk told him that the first thing he had to do was pass an intelligence test to determine his suitability for the job.

"OK I'm ready." the eager young man replied.

"Who killed Julius Caesar?"

Baffled, the young man didn't know what to say so he stalled for time and asked if he could have a few days to think about it.

"Sure." the bemused cop answered, "take all the time you need."

When he went back outside his wife asked him if he got the job.

"I think I must have done, they put me on a murder case already."

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Re: Want to be a Spy? There Is a Test for That!

01/17/2018 10:54 AM

Blimey! I don't think I got even one answer correct, except maybe interacting with the airlines clerk. WTF kind of building goes from floor 16 down to 06, then jumps to 68, 88, then X, then 99? I saw no rhyme or reason to pick the number of the missing floor.

Three identical ladies (triplets, one presumes) all dressed differently simultaneously chattering about their experiences at some noodle shop I don't give a f*** about, that one really p***ed me off. I would have drawn my Walther PPK, and shot the lot of them for speaking out of turn. Epic Fail!

ROFLMAO! I am glad I live in America if that is how things are in Australia.

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Re: Want to be a Spy? There Is a Test for That!

01/17/2018 2:39 PM

"WTF kind of building goes from floor 16 down to 06, then jumps to 68, 88, then X, then 99? I saw no rhyme or reason to pick the number of the missing floor."

If the question is to find the floor at X, which is halfway between floor 88 and floor 99 below it, then floor X is floor LL.

By the way, the 7-segment display on the elevator is installed upside down.

  • 16 = 91
  • 06 = 90
  • 68 = 89
  • 88 = 88
  • X
  • 99 = 66
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Re: Want to be a Spy? There Is a Test for That!

01/17/2018 2:52 PM

Just looked at the page, it's not a 7-segment display, the buttons are installed upside down.

Then again, that is for Australia, so that may be the normal way they do things in the land down under.

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Re: Want to be a Spy? There Is a Test for That!

01/17/2018 3:17 PM

I finally figured that out.

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Re: Want to be a Spy? There Is a Test for That!

01/17/2018 3:32 PM

By taking the test over and over again, I could possibly clear some of the hurdles I did not the first go.

The problem is with my hearing and that cheeky Aussie accent.

Guess I better stick to 'cipherin', and being a 00(pronounced double-naught) spy here in Texas:

Thank God he decided to leave off being brain surgeon.

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