The Central Intelligence Agency is one of the nation’s most secretive and intriguing agencies. The mystery of the Agency, what we do and what it might be like to work here is a regular subject of questions from members of the public. For general queries, CIA.gov hosts a wealth of information from job opportunities to World Factbook data and information on world leaders. But when you have a question that isn’t quite answered on the website, Molly Hale is at your service.
Since 2002, Molly Hale has been the public voice of the CIA. In a given month, Molly reads more than 13,000 emails, answers 3,000 phone calls, reads 900 faxes, and sends out several hundred letters.
Molly is the public’s trusted source for answers to their most common questions—and often finds herself becoming a sounding board for public concerns about U.S. national security. On occasion, Molly has helped callers with serious problems get in touch with the proper law enforcement authorities.
You may be wondering why CIA provides this service—after all—we are a secret organization. “We are public servants first and foremost,” Molly says. “I enjoy hearing from the public and helping them better understand the great work CIA officers do to protect our nation each day.”
CIA.gov recently sat down with Molly and asked her about her most memorable moments, as well as the most commonly asked questions she receives from the public:
Q: What has been your most memorable moment while serving the public?
Molly: It is always very fulfilling when I’m able to help people in serious situations. I remember several years ago I received a letter from a young girl about her desire to work at CIA. I responded to her, as I typically would, and she wrote another letter describing some very unsettling things happening in her home. I was able to reach out to the appropriate law enforcement offices to get her the help that she needed. When the police removed her from the situation, she said, “Tell Molly Hale thank you for saving me.” That is an experience I will never forget and a constant reminder of how important the service I provide to the public really is.
Q: What do you love most about your job?
Molly: I really enjoy talking with the public. Every day is unique, and I can never predict what is waiting for me on the other end of the phone line. I really enjoy the variety of our callers. I also think the level of customer service we provide to the public is quite remarkable considering the clandestine nature of our work. But more than anything, I am proud to be the first-line of contact between the American people and the Agency. It is a very important role and it is what keeps me coming back every day.
Q: What are the most commonly asked questions you receive via phone and email?
Molly: There are three questions I get almost every day:
- Without a doubt, most questions are about employment opportunities at CIA. People want to know what they can do to stand out as an applicant. My advice is always the same: study something you’re passionate about, do well, and take advantage of any broadening experiences that will make you a stronger candidate. There is no specific degree or career path to follow. CIA employs people from every background and skill set you can imagine. All of the information about the jobs we are hiring for is on the CIA.gov Careers page, so I refer them there for information about specific vacancies.
- I also get a lot of calls reporting law enforcement complaints. I remind my callers that CIA is not a law enforcement agency. Our mission is to collect and analyze foreign intelligence and provide it to the president and U.S. policy makers so they can make informed national security decisions. We encourage callers with law enforcement issues to contact their local police or the FBI for more serious issues.
- Lastly, a lot of people ask me if they can visit our Headquarters building when they’re in the Washington, DC area. We do occasionally host visits to Headquarters for public outreach purposes that align with our mission. For official visit requests you must submit the request in writing and our outreach team will follow up. For those who do not meet those requirements, I tell them that CIA Headquarters is a closed campus and, therefore, not open to the general public. However, CIA.gov has a wide range of information/insight, including a photo gallery of our Headquarters, as well as espionage artifacts and intelligence history on the CIA Museum pages, which are accessible to anyone. We have also made our Sites to See publication available on CIA.gov.
CIA Office of Public Affairs
Molly works in CIA’s Office of Public Affairs on its Public Communications Staff. This staff is responsible for communicating the Agency’s mission to the public. To do this, OPA answers public inquiries, conducts outreach in the community and manages CIA.gov. OPA also produces unclassified publications to help educate the public about CIA. To learn more about CIA’s Office of Public Affairs and other CIA offices, visit the Offices of CIA page.