Many applicants first big fear is the interview. Who likes an interview? You want to feel prepared, but not overly prepared, but definitely not in the dark. The key to the Peace Corps interview is to dress professionally like you would to any job interview (slacks, button up collared shirt, tie, skirt, suit, dress shoes, blouse, primped), relax and be comfortable (many people attribute a Peace Corps interview to being like talking with an old friend about why you are joining), and be informed about the Peace Corps (but be prepared to ask questions). An interview may last anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours.
These questions have been compiled by various sources who have been interviewed during their application process. In general, it has been agreed by those who've looked at this list that this is a pretty concrete list of the questions that you will be asked during the interview. The list may not be word for word, but nearly all these questions will be asked in one wording or another, and one order or another. Usually there are a couple extra or a couple they don't ask, but they all sort of fall in sync with this list. Finally, this list should be used as a guide to help you start thinking about why you are interested in the Peace Corps and if this is the right opportunity to seek out at this time in your life. Your responses in the interview should be authentic. Scripted responses may negatively affect your application.”
(recommend turning any response from a negative into a positive, as well as in most responses.)
MOTIVATION / COMMITMENT
- What motivates you to seek a service position as a Peace Corps Volunteer? How does Peace Corps service fit into your long range plans?
- Remember back to your first playground experience. Why did you want to play on the playground? What games did you play?
- What, if anything, might keep you from completing a 27-month commitment to Peace Corps Service?
- Do you have a specific geographic preference? If yes: what is the reason for your preference and how flexible are you? If there are specific regions where you are unwilling to serve: what are your reasons and what is your degree of flexibility?
- Please tell me about your most successful experience in a leadership role. Be as specific as possible.
- Please tell me about an experience when you were able to transfer some knowledge or skill to someone who was different from yourself. What did you learn about your interpersonal skills from that experience? What did you learn about the other person?
- Please tell me about the most frustrating experience you have had when working with others. Specifically, how did you manage that frustration?
- Please tell me about a time when you worked in an unstructured or ambiguous situation? How did you approach the task at hand? What did you learn about your personal strengths from that experience?
- 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 situations do you typically find stressful? What do you currently do to reduce stress?
- When you are overseas, circumstances and/or cultural norms may prevent you from employing your usual ways of managing stress, boredom, and loneliness. You will also most likely be out of touch with your familiar support group.
- In such a situation, what alternative outlets might you use?
- If your support group currently plays a critical role in helping you cope with stress, how will you manage without them?
- What is the longest you have been physically separated from important people (family, friends, romantic interests, etc.) in your life? What was the most difficult part of being away from those closest to you? How did you cope?
- What kind of support have you received from those closest to you on your decision to join the Peace Corps?
- Has anyone close to you opposed your decision to join Peace Corps? If so, who was it? What were his/her concerns? How have you responded to them?
- Tell me about a time when you had trouble following a rule.
- One’s ability to work through and resolve differences or conflict is often tested in cross-cultural situations. Please tell me about a specific situation, one we haven’t already discussed, when you needed to work through a disagreement or difference of opinion. Were you able to reach a resolution? How, specifically, did you do that?
- If you weren’t able to resolve the conflict, what prevented you from doing so? In retrospect, is there anything you would do differently?
- Are you currently in a relationship? If so, how will you handle the expectations of your service overseas?
- Rank the following three aspects of your service by how important they are to you: where you go, when you go, and what you do.
SOCIAL SENSITIVITY / CULTURAL AWARENESS
- 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.
- The following are issues that you may face in your country of service. Please note any concerns:
- different and/or lack of familiar foods
- different living conditions
- lack of privacy; isolation
- prescribed gender roles
- possible minority challenges
- personal religious requirements/possible lack of access to your own religious services
- living in a culture where alcohol may be widely consumed and accepted/living in a culture that prohibits the use of alcohol altogether!
Questions to Ask
Besides giving answers you are happy with, something that is quite important, sometimes overlooked, and the interviewer is really interested in are the questions you ask them. They want to see that you know about the organization, you've done some research, but that you are still seeking more knowledge about the Peace Corps. Keep in mind that you may think you know the answer to something, but most likely, you only know part of it, so ask anyway! Again, use these questions as a guide. The questions you ask during the interview should be tied into your own skills, interests or concerns and not scripted based on the recommendations below.
- What if I get severely ill or injured and can't get to the Peace Corps office or another volunteer--what happens?
- With the PCVs recently pulled out of Georgia and Bolivia--what happens to me if that should happen?
- Will I be reassigned?
- Do I have more of a say on a new country?
- How long would a reassignment take?
- How long will I wait to see if we go back to that country?
- How do our belongings get back to us if we are very quickly evacuated?
- Will I be reassigned?
- What steps do they take to make sure they are providing their volunteers with the safest environment possible?
- I have heard in-country training consists of language, culture, technical, & safety--could you tell me anything more specific about it?
- How much of your work as a volunteer is completed solely by you and how much does the Peace Corps help with?
- If you are having trouble getting your project started, does the Peace Corps provide any help?
- If I am nominated, what can I do to make myself more competitive for placement?
- Ask about the recruiters/interviewers experience in the Peace Corps.
- Where and when did they go?
- What was it like?
- What was the most the most difficult thing they encountered?
- How did they deal with this?
- What was the thing they least expected that happened?
- What did they get out of it the most?
- If you are interested in the PC Fellows program, ask about it.
- How far apart are volunteers placed?
- In some countries you can live on your own after training, and in others you're required to live the full 2 years with a host family, is that correct?
- In countries where its required to live with a host family, why is that required?
- How is a host family chosen?
See additional: Advice for applicants
Unofficial Volunteer Handbook yes you could