The Peace Corps Application Process

Before we begin, we're going to assume you have viewed the official Peace Corps website. While it's nice getting information from various sources, the Peace Corps website is surprisingly user-friendly and offers a lot of good information. 

But enough of that. It's our turn to explain the application process. 

*Warning* - This is an in-depth coverage of the application process. A one-stop shop resource, if you will. 

What we'll cover:

  • Finding a recruiter

  • Application process

  • Interview Process

  • Nomination

  • Medical Clearance

  • Official Invitation

  • Acceptance


Finding A Recruiter

First things first - you have to connect with a Peace Corps Recruiter. There are a couple of available options for this. 

Option 1: Go directly to the Peace Corps Volunteer Openings page and peruse what role you are interested in taking on. 

Bonus: You can always roll the dice and apply to go anywhere. (Warning: Only for the bold)

Option 2: Connect directly with a Peace Corps recruiter. The website gives you multiple ways to locate a recruiter closest to you. Peace Corps recruiters can generally be found at your local university or, if you live in a larger area, a regional office.

As soon as you have located your nearest Peace Corps recruiter, you can reach out via email or return to the early 2000s and give them a personal phone call; the choice is yours.

Application Process

You now have your Peace Corps recruiter. You have your country and project in mind. Together, you and your recruiter are going to decide if moving into the formal application process is the right course of action. 

For the sake of this article, let's assume you decided to move forward. Congrats!

Read through the project description, required skills, living conditions, medical considerations, and departure times once more before you officially begin the application.

WHY?

Because you can only have one application open at a time. You will need to commit to the country and role you are applying to. If you change your mind, no problem. Simply close out your application and start a new one - best to be comfortable with the choice before your flight!

The application is pretty straightforward, but if you're the inquisitive type, you like to get a feel for the road. So, let's run through the process.

First, you'll want to create your account profile. There is no secret to this. Simply provide your name, date of birth, phone number...etc.

Just the basics. 

Once that has been completed, you arrive at the introduction page of your application. It will show your targeted project and volunteer title, as well as give you an estimated completion time. It usually takes around 55-60 minutes to finish. 

Bonus: You can save and return at any stage. Make sure to take breaks if you start getting foggy.

Next, you will run the gauntlet of standard government questions. 

  • Are you a U.S citizen?

  • Will you be 18 by the time your flight leaves?

  • Who did you vote for in 2016? -- Ok, that one is a joke.

Next, we move onto the personal information:

  • Address

  • Phone Number

Do you remember your social security number? We hope so

Now onto some easy questions.

  • Have you served in the Peace Corps before?

  • Are you married, or looking to serve with a partner

  • Do you have any dependents?

  • Criminal record?

  • Upcoming court date?

Bonus: Don't worry too much about this stuff. The best strategy is to be honest on the application and explain any exceptions to your recruiter.

Drugs?

  • Are you a spy? -- get used to that question!

  • Are you involved in Peace Corps Prep?

Do you speak any foreign languages? What is your experience with the project you are applying for; do you have agricultural experience? Have you done any business consulting?

...Phew

We made it to the essay question. Unlike past years, you only have to write one essay for the updated Peace Corps application. 

This is good and bad. 

The essay is what the Peace Corps uses to assess your professionalism and maturity as a candidate. Essay topics vary, but are usually based around your reasoning for wanting to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and how you plan to overcome the challenges you will likely face. 

You've got 500 words at your disposal. You've got this! 

Bonus: Don't shy away from a little extra help (Dictionary) (Thesaurus).

Alright!

We're almost done. 

Now, just gather three references. Select your ethnicity and race (you can always choose that you'd rather not respond).

Date. Sign. 

Incredible job! Now it is time we move onto the interview process. 


Interview Process

Once your application is approved, you will receive an email with information to schedule your Peace Corps interview. Depending on your location, the interview will be through Skype or in person at a regional office. 

Bonus: The interview process, while stressful, should not worry you too much. We will cover some questions and provide some helpful interview tips. Don't worry, you've got this!

When the email arrives, make sure to set up your interview quickly. Peace Corps gets a lot of applicants; so if you get a spot, make sure to take it.

Bonus: If you interview through Skype, read these best practices. If the interview is in person, read these!

As you prepare for your interview, it is not necessarily the best idea to write out all of the question you think you will be asked so that you have a pre-recorded response. Being natural and fluid in your response is the best strategy. 

A quick disclaimer!

The interview is going to vary a lot based on what sector you are applying for and where you are going. That being said, the questions below will give you a great outline for what to expect and will help you feel prepared for the big day.

The interview is generally separated into three parts. 

Part 1:

  • Why do you want to be a Peace Corps Volunteer?

  • Why do you want to serve in the (pick your sector)?

  • Why do you want to serve in this part of the world?

  • Would you be willing to serve in other parts of the world and/or other sectors?

  • If so, which countries and/or sectors?

Part 2: 

  • Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to living or working with people from another culture. Have you stayed in touch or visited them?

  • Tell me about a time when you worked in an unstructured situation. Were you effective or successful?

  • Tell me about the most meaningful situation you have experienced helping others. What motivated you?

  • Tell me about a time when you had to fulfill an important obligation but it ended up being harder than you thought.

  • Tell me about the most challenging experience you have had working in a team.

  • Tell me about a time when you were able to transfer knowledge or skills to others. Walk me through your lesson plan. What challenges did you face?

  • Tell me about a challenge you faced with little or no support.

  • Tell me about a stressful time in your life. How did you cope?

...Phew. Let's take a moment to breathe. 

Bonus: Soft skills are difficult to gauge from a resume or essay. When answering these questions, try to draw from past experiences and explain how they educated or empowered you. Be prepared for followup questions!

Part 3: (This part is more informal and opens up with a Q&A. Make sure to have some questions.)

  • Different foods that you're used to (vegetarian, vegan, etc.)

  • Health concerns

  • Living without electricity or running water

  • Privacy concerns

  • Geographic isolation (link to life on the ground)

  • Gender roles

  • Minority challenges

  • Lack of access to one's religious services

  • Alcohol (in cultures where its either excessive or prohibited).


Nomination

Congratulations on getting through the interview. The following steps are nomination, medical clearance, and official invitation. 

The Peace Corps nomination process, while exciting, is incredibly underwhelming. 

Generally speaking, you are told that you have been nominated for a specific country and sector (hopefully one of your choosing) and will be given a decent amount of literature to review. 

You will want to review the material given (sector and country information, Peace Corps facts and figures, etc.) and formally accept or decline your nomination. Your recruiter will tell you how long you have to make your decision. 

Medical Clearance

We won't mislead you...the medical clearance process is a challenge. You'll receive a fairly intense checklist of medical and dental assessments that you need to complete. 

The process can be sensitive and aggravating; or it can be quite simple. Like all medical situations, it is highly personal. 

For a more detailed medical clearance guide as well as some resources to help you through the process, see our Medical Clearance How To article. (if link isn’t live, it’s because we’re still working on the article :/)

Official Invitation

The big day has arrived!

You went through all of the steps, rocked your interview and passed the health requirements. Now you receive your official invitation and outline of your itinerary.

Bonus: Don't be surprised if your itinerary changes once or twice before you actually depart! Remember, adaptability is key.


Congratulations on making it through this article and preparing yourself for the Peace Corps application process. You can find more information about the Staging Process, Preparing to Leave, and Packing Suggestions in our other articles. 

Remember you can support this website by clicking the "support' button and purchasing all of the items you'll need for the upcoming experience through our Amazon Affiliate link. Anything you buy, we get a small % from Amazon. It really helps us keep the site updated and running. 

Hope to hear from you!

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