Peace Corps interview questions with answers

Peace Corps interview questions

You have successfully made it to the interview phase of the Peace Corps interview process, congratulations!!! You need to be prepared for this next stage, here, we will discuss some of the possible Peace Corps interview questions

First, who is the Peace Corps? The Peace Corps is a volunteer program and an independent agency in the United States of America, with its headquarters in Washington, D.C. Members of the Corps are usually Americans with a college degree. After three months of training, they are sent abroad for a space of two years. While abroad, they usually work with governments, non-profit organizations, non-government organizations, schools, and entrepreneurs in education, business, youth development, community health, information technology, environment, and agriculture. It was founded on March 1, 1961, by  President John F. Kennedy. 

Sample questions and answers

Here are some interview questions samples and how to answer them. 

  1. What is the difference between good and exceptionally good? 

They are asking about work ethics.

Answer: To be good is to get the job done according to the specifications of the Peace Corps while being exceptionally good is putting in extra efforts to exceed the bare minimum requirement. 

  1. Tell me a situation where you successfully handled a situation. 

To be clear, this question has no clear-cut answer. The placement officers are trying to see your response to unforeseen circumstances. 

Answer: You can tell them about the time you were in college and had to fill in for a group member who could not make it to the presentation, or the time when you had to plan an impromptu event because the leader was not available and you were called on to represent. 

  1. What are your professional strengths? 

You are expected to point out actual strengths you have that have applications within Peace Corps and not just some fancy strengths you think the placement officers want to hear. 

Answer: You could say something like “With experience, I have been able to develop leadership skills as one of my strengths” or “Experience has taught me to be a good team player, therefore working among a team proves no difficulty for me” and then add a time in your experience where you actually used those skills in a professional setting. 

  1. What is your motivation for working with the Peace Corps?

To answer this question, you first need to understand what motivates you to work generally, then emphasize it in relation to the Peace Corps. Your personal motivation might range from the company’s vision, the desire to succeed, the desire to satisfy clients, and so on. 

Answer: Based on the Peace Corps vision “To promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling these goals: To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.”, you could say your motivation to work at peace Corps is to help promote world peace, as well as friendship among communities. 

  1. Why are manhole covers round? 

It is not unusual to be asked brain teasers during the interview process. This particular brain teaser is a classic, the first time it was asked was from a Microsoft interviewer. Brain teasers are just to test your fast reasoning. 

When answering a brain teaser during the interview, make sure to speak and reason out loud. 

Answer: Why are manhole covers not square? Is there a structural reason? When the covers are round it means it has no corners and there will be no need to rotate it to get the corners right. If there are no corners to be gotten right, then it means it is safer as any side fits perfectly. Because it is round, it means it can be easily moved as one person can roll it along. 

  1. Give an example of your academic achievement. 

The goal here is to know if you celebrate “small wins”. The key to answering this question is to relay that one time where you did exploits in your academics. It could be the time you topped your class, or when you had a leadership position, and so on. 

Answer: (For example) During my second year in college, I was nominated as the class representative. With this new role, I knew I had to put in more effort to keep good grades. At the end of the school year, I topped my class. 

  1. Describe your idea of the perfect job as it applies to you. 

To answer this question correctly, the position you are applying for in the Peace Corps is either your dream job or will help you in climbing the ladder to your dream job. 

If it is your dream job, just state it. However, if it will help you get to your dream job, it is important to describe the elements of the dream job and how the job at Peace Corps helps you get there. Talk about the work environment, the coworkers, the management, vision, work culture, products and services, and so on. 

Answer: My dream job will be to work with a non-profit organization directed towards charitable acts, sending people and relief materials to remote villages in Africa to bring a smile to their faces. The job at Peace Corps would help me learn integration with the people of a different community and culture. My dream job would entail coworkers who are passionate about bringing smiles to the faces of the poor by bringing them relief materials, food, medical supplies, and so on. That is my dream job. 

  1. What do you like to do outside of work? 

Personal questions? Yeah totally cool, as the placement officers want to assess your ability to fit into the new culture. It is also an opportunity for them to know your personality and it is totally okay to open up and discuss while keeping it semi-professional. For example, it is totally okay to state that after work on Friday, you hang out with a couple of friends for a bottle of beer or two. However, saying Mondays are usually very difficult and unproductive for you at work because you are trying to recover from the hangover of the previous day is totally not cool. 

Answer: Usually after work on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday mornings, I join my other friends for a bicycle ride around town, on Mondays and Wednesdays, I visit the gym and go for a bottle of beer or two on Fridays. 

  1. How has school prepared you for this job? 

To appropriately answer this question, you would need to look back at the time you spent in college and how each of those experiences has helped prepare you for the role. Experiences like interaction with your peers that helped you develop social skills, how studying helped you develop discipline, how working with classmates on projects taught you a team playing, courses that helped you develop creativity, and so on. 

Answer: School played a huge role in preparing me for this job as I was able to learn team playing from having to work on projects with classmates. Social skills and interaction skills were easy for me to develop among my peers back in college. There was a time during my second college year that I had to lead a small group to present a project, it taught me how to be a good leader as well as being a follower. 

  1. Did the salary we offer attract you to this job? 

To be truthful, salary is an important factor when choosing a job, however, it should not be the main reason. 

Answer: The salary in itself is quite attractive, however, the job attracted me as it would help me get to my dream job of working with a non-profit organization directed towards charity. 

  1. How do you deal with work pressure or stressful situations? 

It is a normal thing to be put under pressure at work or feel stressed. The placement officer wants to know how easily you can handle pressure while accomplishing your goals. It helps to give an example of one time you had to deal with a stressful situation. 

Answer: Pressure and stress cannot be totally separated from work, however, they can be reduced to the bare minimum and handled properly. Personally, when I feel pressure at work, I take a break, take ten deep breaths, and drink water. On the larger spectrum, I take a day off or two to declutter my mind and get myself ready for work again. 

  1. What are the qualities of a good leader? 

This question is simple and straightforward. Just state a few qualities of a good leader. It would help a little to state qualities you have, it may give you a little leverage. 

Answer: A good leader has the ability to provide constructive criticism to his followers while coaching them to be successful with their skill set and encourage them to push themselves into productivity. 

  1. What is the difference between a healthy ego and a big ego? 

The placement officer basically wants to know if you understand interpersonal relationships in the workspace, as well as knowing the place of ego and confidence. 

Answer: In the workspace, ideally, ego should be replaced by confidence. Confidence is when you know what exactly you’re doing and what steps you need to take to reach your goal, however, a big ego means when your confidence goes beyond its limits and arrogance comes into the picture. 

  1. How do you stay organized? 

This is a really important question when it comes to working and the placement officers would want to know how you will manage to stay organized if you were given the job. 

Answer: To remain organized, I tend to buffer my strengths with my weaknesses. Higher priorities come first, then on the lower priorities, I buffer my strengths with places where I’m not so strong. 

  1. What three character traits would your friends use to describe you?

To get an accurate answer to this question, you might need to conduct a poll among your friends prior to the interview and select the traits with the highest frequencies. 

Answer: My friends would definitely describe me with a number of traits, however, the most prominent would be friendly, trustworthy, and diligent. 


Getting to the interview phase is a huge step as not many people make it to this stage, however, it is important to note that the interview process is just one phase in a rather long and multi-dimensioned interview process. Try not to get overwhelmed, and if you do, you can practice healthy coping exercises like a few breathing exercises. This would come in handy as it is normal to feel overwhelmed during your time of service with the Peace Corps. Lastly, make sure you have the mental strength and endurance for the long service. 

Peace Corps interview questions with answers

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