The Interview

The morning of my Peace Corps interview, I received notification that PC was having some issues with their video chat program and was given instructions to call in at the appropriate time if I experienced any issues.

I experienced issues. So, at 11am on November 10th, I, with my fresh haircut, makeup, and professional blazer, called in for my phone interview. I had prepared in the weeks leading up to my interview by casually reading up on the Philippines, reviewing the documents provided by my placement officer, and looking at reddit posts on other applicants interview experiences (I found this post most helpful: Reddit Interview Tips). I had printed out a bulleted list of some of my past experiences in case I felt stuck at any point and taped it to the wall just behind my computer monitor (so I wouldn’t been seen looking down by the non-functioning video chat program). I even tested my webcam under various lightening, carefully decluttering the area behind where I would be sitting (again, this ended up being pointless).

My interview was broken into 4 parts. First, I was asked about the basics: why I applied, would I be willing to serve elsewhere, what had I done to learn more. Pretty easy.

Next, was the bulkier part. I was given instructions that I would be asked a series of questions meant to give the interviewer a better understanding of my experiences. I should respond in brief to each question, giving an example of an experience that lasted at least several months. From there, I would be asked a series of follow up questions to gage how the experience affected me. I definitely stumbled on one or two of these. I was asked to provide an example of experiencing a different culture. I wanted to talk about my experiences traveling and backpacking. However, because the interviewer really wanted to hear about my interactions with ONE culture, not many, I was asked to provide a different example. I think it turned out OK, but it left me a bit shaken. Some of the questions, I needed a little bit of time to think. My interviewer didn’t seem to be bothered by this, and waited patiently while I gathered my thoughts. With each of the follow ups, I was gently redirected if I started going off on a tangent. Some, I found confusing, and asked for the interview to rephrase or repeat. Again, this didn’t seem to be a problem. I think the interview genuinely wanted me to perform well and gave me every opportunity to fully answer each question.

The final portion, I was asked if I had any concerns about specific aspects of being a volunteer– (isolation, strict rules, gender roles, dietary restrictions, cultural norms, the alcohol and drug policy, etc). If I had a concern my interviewer responded with what information she had available, and at times, with personal experience. I was asked for verbal confirmation that I had agreed with the alcohol and drug and the legal policies.

Then it was time for me to ask any questions. I had a few general ones. I wanted to know more about reintroduction post service, family visits, and the Coverdell Fellowship.From some of my interviewers responses, I came up with a of couple follow ups. I found this part of the interview to be pretty laidback and casual. Providing me the opportunity to both show my interest, but also gain insight from a returned volunteer.

That was it. I was told that I would hear back by March 1st, but potentially much sooner.

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Author: Cara Simpson

Fish enthusiast. Virginia born. Maryland educated. Philippines Peace Corps Volunteer.

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