You've been selected for an interview. Now what?

By Amy DeCola
May 12, 2020

You’ve made it to the interview stage in the Peace Corps application process. Congratulations! 

Not everyone gets asked to interview, so take advantage of this great opportunity and be prepared to demonstrate why you are the best fit for this position.

Some of the more obvious advice about interviewing you may already know, such as be on time and wear professional clothing. But what does that mean when you are doing video conference interview?

Overall appearance is still important! This is a professional interview and we expect you to treat it as such. This means wearing professional, business casual attire and presenting an overall tidy appearance. Placement Officers do not need to see your messy dorm room or dirty dishes in the background. Is there somewhere else you can move your laptop to take advantage of a blank wall behind you? Hang a curtain of some sort to provide that “blank slate” behind you and appear more professional. Make sure your space is private and quiet on the day of your interview–try to avoid ringing phones or interrupting roommates.

However, if you need to interview from a public space, such as a coffee shop or library, consider using headphones to help reduce background noise so you can hear your interviewer better.

Have you double-checking the time zone difference? Peace Corps headquarters is in Washington, D.C., and most interview times are scheduled in Eastern Time.

Log on at least 10 minutes early. Placement Officers are very busy, often with multiple interviews scheduled throughout the day. They may not have an extra 15 minutes to spare while you try to figure out the video software at the last minute. However, they can do phone interviews as a back-up if technology isn’t cooperating on the day of your interview, so don’t worry too much if you’re having technical trouble.

Feeling a little nervous? Its okay, we’ve all been there. Have a cup of tea or glass of water handy if you need one.

Luckily, there is no reason to not be prepared for your interview, because the Peace Corps gives you the topics our questions will focus on ahead of time. Haven’t researched your country of consideration yet? It's time to get started with your homework. We want to see that you are serious about working with a community overseas, and demonstrating knowledge of the country shows your commitment to serving there. Oh, and please pronounce Peace Corps properly (Peace “Core,” not Peace “Corpse”).

The topics of the questions are in the interview request email. Read them over, prepare examples and consider doing a dry run description of your experiences with a close friend. Maybe you keep saying “uh…and like…” while avoiding eye contact—your friend will be kind and give you a heads up. In your interview, we want to hear the basics: who, what, when, where, how long. Long term and more recent experiences are ideal. We want to know what you learned from that experience, so do some reflecting beforehand.

The country pages on the Peace Corps website explain cultural aspects of your country of consideration. Review them and be prepared to comment on things like different living conditions, lack of modern conveniences and any dietary restrictions. If you have concerns, share them with the Placement Officer. This is the time to try and alleviate any trepidation you may feel.

As a Placement Officer who has been interviewing applicants for almost three years, I can tell you that it is a true pleasure to interview a candidate who is well prepared. I would rather have you prepared and using notes than not prepared at all.

I look forward to seeing and hearing you on the other end of the video—the prepared and professional you, of course!

Ready to start your Peace Corps journey? Connect with a recruiter today.

This blog was updated from its original version by Morgan Cunningham. Morgan served as an environment Volunteer in a small town in the Panama Canal Watershed from 2016 to 2018. She currently works at Peace Corps headquarters in D.C. as a Placement Officer, sending volunteers to Guyana and Botswana. A water lover and proud dog mom, she lives with her pit-mix and pug near the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.

Amy DeCola

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You could be serving a community overseas by this time next year.