Firstly, when CIA recruits candidates for work as undercover, overseas operatives, they are seeking out individuals who, for the most part, ALREADY possess the mental traits required of a successful spy. More specifically, the recruit must demonstrate that he is supremely self-confident, observant, inquisitive, analytical, morally flexible, cool under pressure, comfortable working alone and, perhaps, a little bit paranoid. This is determined through multiple interviews, specialized verbal, written and other psychological testing, conversations with many of the recruit’s friends, relatives, teachers, former supervisors, co-workers, etc. (as part of the deep background search that is required), handwriting analysis, polygraph exams and more. Certainly, once accepted for the program, those traits are sharpened and refined through rigorous mental and physical training, role-playing exercises, intense indoctrination and further testing. Many don’t make the final cut.
Former CIA operative now a private investigator with The Millennium