After you’ve submitted your application, the next step is an interview with a local recruiter. If you’ve passed the initial review, you can be expected to hear from a recruiter within two weeks.
The point of interview is to determine if the Peace Corps is a good fit for you, and if it is what volunteer experience would work for you. Just like with any professional interview, talking with a recruiter can make or break your chance to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. Don’t forget to look nice!
What you'll be asked during a Peace Corps interview
Be prepared to discuss your resume, what skills you have is one of the most important things used to determine your job placement. Also expect to be asked about how you handle difficult situations, how you deal with unknowns, and coping mechanisms you’ll use when in country for 27 months (two years of service and three months of training). If you have experience abroad, now’s the perfect time to bring it up.
Questions about personal traits will be asked more than those about professional ones. You’ll be asked about your motivation and commitment to the service, so think about why you’re applying. You’ll also be questioned about social and cultural awareness in order to gauge your potential ability to settle down in a small village six hours away from electricity.
- What, if anything, might keep you from completing a 27-month commitment to Peace Corps Service?
- How does Peace Corps service fit into your long range plans?
- Please tell me about the most frustrating experience you have had when working with others. Specifically, how did you manage that frustration?
- All Peace Corps Volunteers learn a new language. Have you studied a second language? If so, what challenges did you face and what level of facility did you achieve? What aptitudes or abilities can you draw on to help you succeed in learning a new language?
- What kind of support have you received from those closest to you on your decision to join the Peace Corps?
- What situations do you typically find stressful? What do you currently do to reduce stress?
- In some countries, tattoos, body piercing, or unusual hairstyles may be culturally unacceptable. To be a successful Volunteer in such a country, you would have to modify your appearance so that it conforms to local norms. Are you willing to make such an adjustment? Give an example of a time that you had to modify your appearance.
Questions for you to ask during a Peace Corps interview
The recruiter interviewing you will be a returned volunteer, so use them as a resource. Ask them about their experience, and how they handled some of the situations that came up in his or her service.
Ask about job openings, though it may be too early to tell. Job openings are usually posted in large batches, not as they are created, so the timing may be off to give you an understanding of your options. If you know what skill area you want to work in however, the recruiter can give you information on recent, past jobs in that field.
Being a volunteer is competitive, and if your recruiter feels you don’t have a good chance at getting an assignment he may hold your application until you can improve on areas where you lack. For example, those with a liberal arts degree are encouraged to have at least three months of volunteering or tutoring experiences. Personally, as a student I wasn’t an active volunteer and was told by my recruiter to find a group to join and volunteer with for the rest of my last semester. A month later we meet again for a status update, and my application was resubmitted to the applicant pool.
If you have any concerns about Peace Corps service, safety, training, or the lifestyle, now is also the time to talk about them. Your recruiter has been through all this before, and will be able to answer any questions you may have.
If all goes well during the interview, it’s time to wait until you get a nomination.