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Author Topic: Interview Information  (Read 32743 times)

Offline Jenny

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Interview Information
« on: January 24, 2015, 05:37:32 PM »
Hi Everyone

I just had my interview the other day and thought Iíd give some interview pointers for those who are expecting to have an interview in the near future.

First of all, it is possible to request a phone interview if you do not have access to a webcam and microphone. I know most people are able to access both of these things, but a few months ago my laptop took its final breath and I inherited my Motherís laptop until spring when I can afford a new one. This thing is from 2006 and I have not set up a webcam or microphone for it yet because Iíll just be getting a new laptop in a matter of months. However, if you are looking for a phone interview instead of the web based interview it is wise to inform your interviewee asap as I think they are just assuming most interviews will be web based.

Obviously everyone here knows what works best for them, but I do suggest having a notebook and pen ready because while you are being asked questions you are also receiving little bits of information that will be helpful as you proceed with the process. Also, having some questions you want to ask your interviewer ready and written down so you donít forget doesnít hurt. I also treated it like a web based or in person interview, and I think that helped my confidence. I was ready early, dressed professionally, and in a quiet place with minimal (except my cat who all the sudden wanted tons of attention and usually prefers to be left alone kept jumping on the desk I was sitting at trying to take my notes on) distractions. Like I said, I really felt like this helped my confidence and Iím glad I took it so seriously.

I found the questions on Peace Corps Interview wiki http://www.peacecorpswiki.org/Interview_Questions to be pretty spot on. I was not asked all of these questions, but I was asked most of them. It could be beneficial to know that some of those questions are coming so you can make sure you have some responses.

Almost all the questions required examples of situations you have been in, and it was suggested to me by my interviewer at the beginning of the interview to try to draw on different experiences in my life instead of giving every example from one job or one volunteer experience. That is why it might be great to look at some of these beforehand so you can have some ideas of various experiences ready.

There were no surprise or trick questions for me. Like I said, they mostly came from here http://www.peacecorpswiki.org/Interview_Questions, and I was asked to elaborate on my responses as much as possible.

I was told it would be 1-1.5 hrs which is spot on. I clocked in at 1 hour and 13 minutes according to my phone, so if you do request a phone interview of course making sure the phone is all the way charged is a good idea (and probably not even necessary for me to say, but sometimes the night before a big interview little things slip oneís mind as they focus on bigger things).

I wish I had thought to have some water by me as my mouth was getting kind of dry and towards the end I had to leave my zen place where everything was going well to retrieve some water, but other than that I felt prepared thanks to the wiki page. Even though it is a few years old, it looks like they stick to the script pretty much.

I think it went well. Iím not sure about an invite yet because it was for Ukraine July 2015 and they are still working on State Department clearance from what I understand, but I felt really good about the potential outcome.

Hope this helps anyone who is nearing an interview. Of course this was just my personal experience also, so I cannot guarantee anything, but I thought Iíd share with other applicants.

Offline akiramd12

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Re: Interview Information
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2015, 10:06:04 PM »
Hey Guys! My name is Chantel and I'm a recent invitee. Just to piggy back off of Jenny's Post (which was dead on :)), I just wanted to put my spin on the subject. I made a blog post about it and I hope you don't mind my shameless plug. I hope it isn't too much and that it also helps someone. Blog Post below:

The Interview

Any interview can be daunting but getting ready for the Peace Corps interview can be darn-right scary. At this point, you have probably been waiting months since you submitted your application and if you’re like me, have called to see if your application has in fact, been destroyed in a Tron Legacy race across the internets. It’s okay! The key to it all is preparation. While I’m far from an interview expert, I can say for sure that following certain steps will put you in the front running to getting that invitation. Here is what I have determined.

(Please obviously note that this may not apply for all applicants. Some of you are probably Peace Corps bad-asses with killer resumes that will have PC throwing you invites before you can say “Malaria”. Others may be just doing it for fun and still can’t point your selected country out on a map. All I can say is: I got the invite less than 24 hours after the interview. I’m not saying thats a record or anything but…I think that’s pretty friggin’ cool  ;))

Professionalism

Display professionalism from the moment that you create the PC account to the moment you receive that invite. Every time I contacted someone for info, I was polite and prepared. When I got the request for invitation, I opened my laptop and replied to avoid the unprofessional reply-from-a-cell-phone-email. I carefully chose my outfit and ironed everything and even put on pants (yes, it is a webcam interview but when someone knocks on your door and you HAVE to get up to get it -which happened to me – you don’t want your interviewer to see those PJs that you kept on). If you are dress like its a real face-to-face interview, you will act like it. And trust me, it is better to be over-professional than under. You never know who the person at the PC front desk knows and its so easy to deny someone these days. Be on top of it. I know this seems unnecessary to state, but there are some people out there who haven’t experienced this “UH-DUH” moment yet.

Know Your Country

This new process gives us the opportunity to know what country we are being considered for BEFORE the invitation (queue groans from the old school RPCV) so you ample time to gather info. Unless you were the “send me wherever” person, from the moment you submitted the Assignment Selection form, you should have done your research. Google the country. Look up the current events. Find recent blogs from current volunteers and read the entire blog from start to finish. You want to know what there is to like about the country, what challenges you may face and why you want to go there. Even if you want to risk it and not do those things, at least read the Assignment Description and Welcome Book that your interviewer will email to you before the interview. Impress the interview with your knowledge about the country, its climate, its infrastructure and its culture. During mine, I told her that I chose the country because of its variety of climates and scenery. I would have options of different places to explore during my down time and many adventures. I told her about the blogs and videos that I had seen and about how wonderful the people were. If you know someone from the country, talk to them! If not, FIND SOMEONE. I spoke to one of my Nigerian professors who introduced me to a Tanzanian professor in another department. My interviewer thought that it was great that I had already started making connections with the country. The more you can show that you like the country, the more likely they will feel that you would be a good fit and be able to complete your service.

Know Your Assignment

Read the assignment description and get it in your brain what skills that you have that will make you a great volunteer. Want to teach English to kids? Tell them about how you volunteered reading to day care kids. Want to work in a health center? Tell them about how you helped enroll people in Obamacare. Even if you have to B.S. that time that you sold candy for your baseball team into working in the business sector, do whatever you gotta do. While you are looking at those blogs, try to find some in which the volunteers are doing the same job as what you will be doing. If you tell the interviewer about the experiences that these PCVs had, it will display how serious you are with the assignment. And do not be afraid to display confidence. I am generally shy but for that interview, I laid the confidence out like I was at the poker table with my last chips and a horrible hand. Make them feel that you know what you are doing and that you are better than any other applicant (apparently other applicants for the position had Ph.Ds or were 10-year-veteran HS teachers, so I had to lay it on thick since my resume was the David to their Goliath). Refrain from saying “I think” and try to say “I know”. Because saying “I know that I can teach Filipino children English” sounds way better than “I think that I will know what I am doing”. But, please, when you are being confident try not to be an a-hole. Everyone hates an a-hole.

Know Your Resume and Aspiration Statement

Yea, you wrote it. Yea, you did everything on it, but TRUST ME, nothing is worst than having a brain fart, forgetting what you did in the past and being stuck with “That time I had a group project for sociology” as your response for “How are you a good leader?” Print out your resume and have it next to you. Highlight the events that you know you want to mention and what made those events special. If you have to, make an outline of everything so you can see it all at a quick glance. Know how they relate directly to PC service and how they will well prepare you. Remember your aspiration statement. (After months of waiting, you may forget why you told them that you wanted to apply.) Make sure you know why you want to be a volunteer, and if you want to add something that you didn’t say before, say it now. Seriously sit and think about why you want to dedicate 2+ years, know how you want to word your main points and write it in the outline. For example, there was a statement that I made sure I said about having one life to live and filling it with meaningful experiences and taking huge opportunities. After I finished saying it, the interview said that it gave her goosebumps. You want THAT. The last thing you want to happen is to remember that big statement that you wanted to say after the interview is over or to say it wrong and leave them thinking you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Meditate

Pray, do yoga, go for a run, do whatever you need to do to be physically, spiritually and emotionally centered. 15 minutes before the interview, I got on my knees and prayed for focus and calmness (and I am not Catholic so getting on my knees was NOT USUAL). This is a huge opportunity and you basically have one chance to take it. You don’t want to be “out of it” during this thing and you don’t want your nerves to get the best of you.

“Do you have any questions for me?”

The interview went wonderful. You feel great. But then they ask that question and you draw a blank, fishing for possible questions and end up with the all time favorite “How did you like your service?”.

While the above is a good question, after interviewing hundreds of applicants, the last thing your interviewer wants is to have to lay out their Peace Corps Spiel. You don’t want to fall into a pool of applicants, you want to be memorable! Be prepared with questions before-hand and make them honest questions. You are more than likely talking to an RPCV and the gatekeeper to that invitation. Impress them by making them think. Don’t just ask how they liked serving, ask them about what made their experience unique or special. What challenges did they face? If they could do anything differently, what would it be? What was their favorite, funniest, happiest or hardest experience? Basically, ask the questions that they just asked you! Listen to their responses and show that you care. Tell them how amazing it sounds and how you hope to experience that. Then, turn it back to yourself. Ask them about your application and if there was anything you could do to make yourself a stronger candidate. I was even bold enough to ask her if there were any concerns that she had with me as an applicant. This is your last opportunity to do what you have to do to rock the interview. At the end, make sure you thank them for the consideration and show how grateful you are that they feel that you can step into the huge shoes of those before you (or something like that). It may sound silly but if you want that invitation, Do what you gotta do!

Once you are done, be done. Come down from your high, call your mom (or friend, if your mom still thinks you’re crazy for applying) and decompress. Watch your favorite show or movie and breathe easy. You put yourself out there and made the best effort that you could. If you don’t get it then, oh well. You should have no regrets. But if you DO get the invite, CELEBRATE!!! You are going to the show! Dance your butt off, call everyone……then sit down and get ready for the mountain of paperwork (philosophically, since everything is online now) and clearances that you have to complete. Welcome to the Peace Corps!

From: Let Chan Tell It: My Peace Corps Safari: https://letchantellit.wordpress.com/
Chantel
Science Education Invitee
Tanzania - July 2015

Offline Jenny

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Re: Interview Information
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2015, 11:07:58 PM »
Congratulations Chan!!!!
I'd say your invite is pretty friggin cool indeed!

And you brought up a few points I missed so thanks for adding to this. Yup, having your resume in front of you (which I was able to do since I was on the phone) or memorized is a great idea.

I did not ask what I could do to be a stronger candidate  :-X, which is a great question and if I don't get an invite I'll be wondering if I should have done so....

Hey, if I do get an invite I'll follow your blog and I'll get my own set up and I've always wanted to visit Africa so maybe I can head on down there at some point and say Hi and see how ya'll do Peace Corps Tanzania style!

Offline akiramd12

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Re: Interview Information
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2015, 11:31:39 PM »
Thank Jenn! As long as there are not issues in my clearances, I will be headed there. I'm sure you will get it. As of right now, Tanzania isn't having any issues with government clearances so I'm sure that's the ONLY thing holding yours up. And from what I heard, PC doesn't want to lose any willing volunteers so even if the Ukraine issues don't clear up, they will have another place for you sure enough.

And yes! Please come and visit. I'm always ready to host people in the US and will surely host anyone in the TZ! Send me a message when you create your blog so that I don't forget. Can't wait to see it!
Chantel
Science Education Invitee
Tanzania - July 2015

Offline balkandina

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Re: Interview Information
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2015, 05:14:47 PM »
I was actually a bit surprised that my interview did not follow all of the questions on the Wiki site, since so many people have posted that it does. I am an older applicant, so maybe they wanted to know more about my work experiences? Having said that, the interviewer, who also contrary to what I had read had not been a PCV, was really positive about my chances. Now it is up to the State Department to decide to reopen Ukraine-fingers crossed.

Offline Jeff

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Re: Interview Information
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2015, 06:23:46 PM »
All of the interviews follow the same basic outline these days, with minor variation based on sector/country.

I realize you already interviewed, but if someone out there is reading this and hasn't, here's the best thing to check (as opposed to the wiki - unless it's been updated very recently):

http://www.reddit.com/r/PeaceCorpsVolunteers/comments/2uolga/was_just_interviewed_heres_what_they_asked/

Jeff
RPCV - Ghana, 03-05
PCV - Macedonia, 15-17