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

By Amy DeCola
March 29, 2017

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 things about interviewing you may already know, such as be on time and wear professional clothing, but what does that mean when you are doing a Skype video interview?

Overall appearance is 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 really do not want 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? Got a desktop? 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 – no ringing phones or interrupting roommates.

Additionally, 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.

What about double-checking the time zone? Peace Corps headquarters is in Washington, D.C., and most interview times are in Eastern time.

Log on at least 10 minutes early. Placement officers are very busy, often with multiple interviews scheduled throughout the day. We may not have an extra 15 minutes to spare while you try to figure out Skype at the last minute. Feeling a little nervous? It’s okay, we’ve all been there. Have a cup of tea or glass of water handy if you need one.

There is no reason to not be prepared for your interview because the Peace Corps gives you the topics our questions will focus on. Haven’t researched your country of consideration yet? Please get busy and do 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. We want to hear the basics: who, what, when, where, how long (longer time frame is better) – and we want to know what you learned from that experience, so do some reflecting on these experiences 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.

And yes, we do phone interviews as a back-up if technology isn’t cooperating on the day of your interview, so don’t worry if you’re having technical trouble.

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.

Amy DeCola

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