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Author Topic: Under Consideration...Questions etc  (Read 7989 times)

Offline kerv

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Under Consideration...Questions etc
« on: September 15, 2015, 11:42:35 AM »
Hi guys! I'm at work, so I'm going to keep this brief for now..

I officially applied for PCV service about a week ago. I know with absolute certitude that this is what I want to do, so I anxiously await all updates.

At the end of last week, I received notification that I am Under Consideration for Togo, departing June 2016.  It was not what I listed on my preference form, but I am truly excited at the prospect nonetheless.

What exactly does it mean that I made it to this stage? Did I pass some hurdle by being placed UC, or is that totally standard and expected for all applicants? I was so excited when I got the email. Should I backtrack on getting my hopes up?

Also, last week, I emailed both a recruiter in my area, and the placement officer for Togo. Neither have responded yet. Is it typical that they'd take several days? It probably is and I probably am being a tad impatient.

I realllly want to get my interview scheduled (the next step, I presume?); how long might I expect to wait for that?

Another thing- I strongly assume that I am being considered for a Health Advisor/Extension position, because I don't meet the listed requirements for Teaching (credentials, etc) or Agricultural work (degree, experience in agricultural field, etc). Is it right for me to make this assumption? In the UC email, all it said was the location, not the work field (but I am making my assumptions based on the open positions/descriptions listed on the PC website).

One last thing...more of a random comment... I am currently in the process of getting promoted at work and in the next 1-2 months I'll be going through panel interviews and exams (of which I'm pretty confident I'd prevail..). One reason why I want to hurry with the PC app process is so that I don't have to waste time on this promotion. If I get accepted to PC, I will not take the promotion (and not waste my employer's resources), and surely accept an invitation to serve. Any advice?

Bear with me, I probably asked some elementary level questions, but I am so excited to move forward with this journey. Please reply if you have any insight into anything I said, or if you are in a similar situation (and especially if you too have recently been UC/interviewed/etc).


Wow, I guess that wasn't so brief.

Ok THANKS, back to work.

Offline Jeff

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Re: Under Consideration...Questions etc
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2015, 09:04:02 PM »
One thing you will get used to (and frustrated) hearing over and over again in the Peace Corps process is, "it depends."  Unfortunately, that applies to some of your questions, but I'll try to answer the couple things I can based solely on my own experiences.

Not EVERYONE gets placed under consideration - you do have to pass an initial screening to get that far, and have to 'fit' a placement.  What exactly is meant by 'fit', I'm not sure, that's just how it was explained to me.  That being said, being put UC is not at all the same as being invited.  A number of people are put UC, only some of which are interviewed, and only some of those are actually invited.

As for when the interview might happen - it depends!  Some people are interviewed right away, others wait until the literal know-by date for the position to be interviewed.  I have no idea what the difference is or what factors determine who is interviewed early and who late, but how it is done probably varies by placement officer.  Also, as a note, the recruiter really doesn't have much input at this point...it is the PO who handles the selections and interviews.  That being said, recruiters can be good sources of information on various topics.

How long will it take a recruiter or PO to respond?  I hate to say it - but it depends...I've had responses within an hour or so, but more often at least a few days.  Stories from other people seem similar, and some people don't hear back at all.  Communication is probably one of the most frustrating parts of the process (both pre- and post-invite).

To your question about assuming which program you are UC for - I'm not sure you can make that assumption, as you never know exactly what has been requested by the country, and sometimes the details of a position aren't always what you might expect for a certain sector.  Also, again based on stories, people have been placed UC for positions they do not feel that are competitive for on occasion.  Talking with your PO (which it sounds like you are trying to do) is probably the best way to find out.  They must have changed the UC email, as mine about a year ago did list the position as well as the country...??

From my own experience, I would not stop your present life, professional or person, for Peace Corps.  Keep moving forward.  PC is VERY competitive these days, and there is no guarantee you will get in the first time around.  While the current process is much faster than the old one, it is still a bit of a waiting game with a lot of uncertainty built in.  Even if you get invited you may run into snags with medical or legal that may delay you (unfortunately, I know this from experience).  There should be a posted know-by date for the country you are UC for, and you literally may not hear anything at all until that date - you could even end up being interviewed and invited all on that date.

I realize this was probably not helpful, but the PC (both as an applicant and as a volunteer) is a very 'it depends' experience.

Good luck, and I hope you do hear something soon!
Jeff
RPCV - Ghana, 03-05
PCV - Macedonia, 15-17

Offline kerv

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Re: Under Consideration...Questions etc
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2015, 09:11:17 AM »
Hi Jeff,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I really appreciate it.

The UC email that I received notice from is just the country and "placement" (e.g., placementsouthafrica@peacecorp.gov). That may be a new thing, I'm not sure.

I have another question.. Regarding interviewing.. (assuming I make it to that stage). Are interviews all held via telecommunications (phone/Skype) these days? I STRONGLY prefer an in-person interview. I really dislike phone interviews. I get noticeably passionate when I'm talking about something that I'm, well, passionate about, and I always feel more comfortable with face-to-face interaction in such cases. Would we have an option for face-to-face, or will they determine the mode of interview?

Again, thanks for the acknowledgment, Jeff!

Kerv


Offline PCVolunteer

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Re: Under Consideration...Questions etc
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2015, 12:15:07 PM »
Kerv,

You can find the steps of the application process here: http://www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/learn/howvol/stepstoapply/.
Please note that being placed Under Consideration falls between Step 4 and Step 5.

You are not guaranteed to be placed under consideration for a program, but most applicants are unless they don't meet the basic application requirements. However, it is an exciting part in the application process as you can begin researching your country and learning more about it. Some UC e-mails will specify which sector you are being considered for while others do not, but if you are to receive an interview it will definitely refer to the specific position you are interviewing for.

The recruiter will no longer be of assistance throughout the application process as they have done their job- got you to apply. The PO is very busy and I never received response from mine after e-mailing the generic country placement e-mail address. However, my PO became very responsive after I received my interview request and they were e-mailing me directly. It all depends on the PO though.

The interview would be the next step in the process for you. Unfortunately, it is not guaranteed that you will receive an interview and you can receive a request anytime from being placed under consideration up until the know by date for your program. Patience is key and they will want to see you are a flexible person. You can always voice your concerns to your PO but there's no guarantee of them expediting the process and it may come off as a negative.

The interviews all take place via Skype for Business (formerly Microsoft Lync) and it is a video conference so even though you won't be there in person it is face-to-face. As far as I know they do not conduct in person interview regardless of the situation. If there are technically difficulties they will conduct the interview over the phone.

If you have any additional questions please feel free to ask.

Offline Jeff

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Re: Under Consideration...Questions etc
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2015, 08:22:11 PM »
PCVolunteer is unfortunately correct - you can't do in-person interviews at all.  I actually worked literally a few blocks from the PC office, and they wouldn't let me interview in person stating it is no longer an option.

The video-conference interview is pretty much all you will get; the exception being if it is not working, then it will turn into a telephone interview.

Good luck!!
Jeff
RPCV - Ghana, 03-05
PCV - Macedonia, 15-17

Offline kerv

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Re: Under Consideration...Questions etc
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2015, 11:29:20 AM »
Thank you for your responses!

I woke up this morning to an email stating that the PO would like to interview me! Yes, it is via Skype.

Excited and anxious. Really want this!

Offline PCVolunteer

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Re: Under Consideration...Questions etc
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2015, 02:25:07 PM »
Congratulations on the interview request! 

It was one of the most relaxed interviews that I have ever had in my life and it is definitely more like a conversation than anything, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take it seriously. Read over your assignment, know the assignment and country like the back of your hand and be yourself!


Best of luck!

Offline kerv

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Re: Under Consideration...Questions etc
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2015, 09:27:21 PM »
Thank you!

I was given several options/timeslots for the interview. I normally would choose one of the first slots, but my week is so busy (with my job by day and grad school by night, etc), that I chose a time for next week so that I could have time to prepare this coming weekend.

Now I just wish I would have taken an earlier slot because it is all I can think about! And I don't want to overthink it. This is just so important to me that I keep thinking of all scenarios, all possible interview Qs, how to get my genuine passion across, etc.

To make things worse (or more interesting?), I was contacted by my current employer's HR department today (see my first post on this thread). They want me to come in for an interview with one of the executives (this is a faster track interview...I was expecting exams first then a couple mini-interviews). The interview they scheduled is THE SAME DAY as my PC interview!!! Can you believe that? The PC interview is first (bright and early, 5am). And then my interview with the Exec is in the early afternoon.

In a normal situation, I would put my all into prepping for an interview. I am planning on doing that for the PC interview. The promotion at my current job means so little to me in comparison to my passion for pursuing the Peace Corps. Now I have these conflicts (regarding mental preparation and "studying" for the interviews).

I will feel bad at the promotional interview because if I am chosen (for both the promotion and the PC), that takes away an opportunity that someone else might have had and wastes my employer's resources (they have to start the whole hiring process over again if they offer it to someone and said person does not accept). Again, I'm totally certain that I would chose the PC over the promotion. Even though some people would look at my situation and think I'm crazy. At my job, I am in the perfect situation to rise up in the organization (I am the first of the "younger" generation in a very aging employee-base within my org). But my heart just isn't there. Every time I go to work, I have this feeling that I should be "out there" trying to make the world a better place. I know how lucky I am to even have a stable job in the first place and to have the opportunity to move up, but it just isn't me.

With all that said, if I do not get invited to the Peace Corps (such a sad thought to imagine!) and lose the chance at a promotion at my current job, then that would be terrible all around! My current boss is really trying to help me get this promotion. She is talking to me about things I should know, seemingly helping me to prepare, etc, but little does she know that the Peace Corps is the #1 thing on my mind. If I don't get the promotion I will have let her down (in addition to letting myself down by not getting the PC invite). 

Phew, feels a little relieving to get all that off my chest. Thank you if you read all that.

Back to the PC interview....
Does it look bad to the placement officer that I chose practically the last possible interview timeslot? I was able to see that there were many other slots that kept disappearing (other interviewees), and I ended up choosing the last day. Will this be a bad thing?


thanks again

kerv~

Offline amanda_pearl

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Re: Under Consideration...Questions etc
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2015, 08:05:27 AM »
I know where you're coming from with the job issues. I want to look for another job, because I'm not happy with the position I'm in currently, but I feel like it would be extremely inconsiderate to start a new job knowing that there is a chance I may be leaving the country in less than a year.

As far as the interview slots go, I don't think it will look bad at all. It is unlikely that the slots that were offered were all of the interviews that will be scheduled. They will be holding interviews until the Know-By date. They offer many times and dates because they know that people have to schedule the time around their own lives. I scheduled my interview 2.5 weeks away from when I got my interview request, because it was important to me that I have the interview first thing in the morning and that was the only day with that time available (I didn't want to leave work during the day to find somewhere to Skype).

As for the sector you are being considered for, I would strongly recommend you email the PO to ask them what sector you are being considered for. Tell them that you want to look over the position description before the interview. They will appreciate that you want to be prepared. You may be asked why you want to serve in that sector, so you'll want to have an answer prepared, and you'll want to go over the duties associated with the position so you can ask appropriate questions. My UC email did not list a sector, but I said I'd only be interested in health positions on my Assignment Selection Form, so I already knew. I don't think it would be appropriate to make any assumptions about sector, because sometimes their placement decisions don't exactly meet the position requirements on the listing.

Offline kerv

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Re: Under Consideration...Questions etc
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2015, 01:18:57 PM »
Thanks for the reply, Amanda!

Did you have your interview already? How was it?

Also, I forgot to "announce" that when I received the interview request email, it included that I am being interviewed for a position in the Health Sector. I am glad about that (though I didn't explicitly list it on the preference form since I thought perhaps I wouldn't be qualified enough in their eyes).

My health-related experience is
-I double minored in Public Health and Genetics during undergrad (and have always had an interest in Public Health); my major was not health-related.
-I spent 5 weeks in the summer of '14 working at a health clinic in a rural area of Peru.
-I have been working as a (unpaid) weekend manager of the volunteer department at a local hospital (overseeing/supervising a group of volunteers).

Also, not really health-related, but I spent 2 weeks in Nepal this year (would've been longer if I could take more time off work), right after the devastating earthquake, doing independent relief work.

When I completed my resume during the application phase, I geared it towards Community/Economic development because I thought that's what they'd see me as most qualified for. But I am totally committed to the Health Sector as well, so I will try to get that across.

Any further recommendations for my interview?

Thanks!

kerv

Offline amanda_pearl

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Re: Under Consideration...Questions etc
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2015, 07:13:34 AM »
I had my interview on the 9th of this month for health extension Cambodia (July 2016). Probably won't hear anything for a while, since the application deadline isn't until January. I know that some POs offer invites earlier, but mine said he may issue some early, but the majority will be after the app deadline.

I have a masters of public health and a BA in physical education. I currently work as a researcher at a major cancer hospital, and I have several years of teaching experience (primarily with kids younger than 8).

My interviewer was pretty formal and stuck to the interview format. He did smirk at one little joke, so that was a little comforting. My interview request had a short list of things that would be discussed, and he mostly stuck to that. I had prepared from the list of questions on the Wiki, but I could have just focused on the 6 or so items in the email I received. I messed things up a bit when he asked if I had looked over the legal stuff sent in the interview request. Since I had looked at it when I first got the email over 2 weeks ago, it slipped my mind at first, so I might have sounded a bit unprepared... I had a list of questions prepared for the end, but he answered all but one before I had a chance to ask anything... So make sure you have a long(ish) list so you have something to ask about in the end.

Overall, I don't really know how it went... and I guess I won't find out until I get an invite/rejection.

Offline kerv

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Re: Under Consideration...Questions etc
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2015, 09:46:17 AM »
Can I ask you, how long did your interview last? I know it says to expect an interview of 90 minutes or so, but it seems to vary?

I am currently working on my Masters in Public Policy & Administration (my emphasis has been global health and governance). It should be complete by the time I *hopefully* leave for PC service. Your experience is pretty impressive, so I hope you hear back soon. The waiting game is a bit treacherous.

Offline amanda_pearl

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Re: Under Consideration...Questions etc
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2015, 10:16:44 AM »
My interviewer told me that interviews are usually around 60 minutes, but to plan on 90 to be safe. My interview ended up lasting almost exactly an hour. He asked a lot of followup questions based on specific things I said, so the types of answers you give could definitely affect the length of your interview. Since my interview was scheduled for a 9am slot, but the interviewer had to push it back to 10am, he might have rushed things along to stay on schedule (but that is purely speculation).