Peace Corps interview. And you’re nervous. Maybe this is your first “real” job interview. Maybe you’ve already had a handful of interviews, but none for an organization similar to the Peace Corps. You’re not quite sure what to expect.
In many ways, your Peace Corps interview will be like any other professional job interview, and you should prepare accordingly. But the Peace Corps interview is unique, because the Peace Corps itself is unique. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you would spend two years of your life in a foreign country, become proficient in a new language, make new friends, eat new foods, and overcome challenges you might not face in your first post-college job here in the United States.
Consider your interview an opportunity to have a conversation with someone who cares passionately about the Peace Corps. Nearly all Peace Corps recruiters are themselves Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, and they can draw on their own experiences to help address your questions and concerns about Volunteer service.
Your Peace Corps interview will last about an hour. During that time, your recruiter will cover:
- Your reasons for considering Peace Corps Volunteer service
- Your expectations and concerns about working overseas for two years
- Your past work experiences, including service, campus activities, and paid employment
- Your experiences living and working with people who are different from you
- Your preferences and flexibility about Peace Corps Volunteer assignments and geographic placement
- Personal life issues, such as vegetarianism, current romantic relationships, and current financial or legal obligations.
You may be surprised that we ask personal questions during your Peace Corps interview. After all, what bearing do your eating habits and your love life have on your ability to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer?
First, a word about vegetarianism. Many vegetarians have served successfully as Peace Corps Volunteers. However, many of them have faced situations overseas where they have been served meat or dairy products, or where locally available foods did not allow them to maintain a healthy vegetarian diet. If you are a vegetarian, your recruiter will want to discuss similar experiences you may have had here at home, and ask you how you would feel and react if you were confronted with these challenges as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
As for romantic relationships, we want to make sure you and your partner have discussed the impact your decision to join the Peace Corps will have on your relationship. A 27-month separation can be emotionally difficult for the Peace Corps Volunteer and for loved ones left behind at home. Your recruiter may ask questions such as: Has your relationship ever endured a separation? What are your partner’s plans during the time you will be overseas? What are your-and his or her-expectations for your future together after your Peace Corps service? Please keep in mind that your recruiter also may ask you how yourand family members feel about your decision to join the Peace Corps.
Some practical tips for your Peace Corps interview:
- Bring along any completed addenda to your application or other materials your recruiter may have specifically requested from you (a recent college transcript, professional certificates, or a copy of your divorce decree, for example).
- Allow yourself plenty of time to locate the office building and find parking if necessary. Plan to arrive a few minutes early so you can relax before your interview begins.
- Read up on the Peace Corps, its history, and current Volunteer assignments and host countries. Check out the “News” section of the Peace Corps Web site for the latest Peace Corps happenings around the world. If you haven’t done so already, attend a general information meeting on your campus or in your community prior to your interview.
- If you are applying to serve with your spouse (or future spouse), your recruiter will interview each of you individually. Then, he or she will meet with both of you to go over issues specific to serving as a married couple.
- Prepare a list of questions for your recruiter. Now is a the time to ask about the rest of the application process, about specific job assignments or regions of the world, or about Volunteer life in general. Remember, no question is trivial or insignificant!
In choosing to apply to the Peace Corps, you have made an important decision that could change your life and the lives of others. Congratulations and good luck. We look forward to meeting you!