We had our interview last Friday. It went well, I think. It wasn’t spectacular, but I think we answered the questions well and thoughtfully. It was a two-hour long interview, and we talked mostly about “big picture” issues like how we deal with stress and new situations and whether we are willing to conform to another culture’s norms. I had done some searching online ahead of time (the peacecorps2 Yahoo group has tons of helpful info) and found that the interviews are fairly standard, so Preston and I were able to practice our answers ahead of time. That helped a lot. There were also a couple of “example” questions that I hadn’t found online. For instance, we were talking about willingness to conform to another culture’s norms, and she used the example of working in a school (something I’m likely to be doing) where they use corporal punishment. Yikes! I hadn’t thought of that. How would I respond to seeing an adult hit a child, even if it’s in a socially accepted way?
We also really got the impression that if we get in, it will be because they are doing us a favor. “If we offer you a position and you don’t take it, there are 5 other couples waiting to take your place,” the recruiter actually said. That left us feeling pretty disempowered to have preferences for what we want to do or where we want to go. There are a couple of things that are pretty important to us, and she wasn’t really willing to listen to those preferences at all. She did ask if there was a general region we were interested in. When I said South Africa, she said that was much too specific, so she put down “Africa” instead. Ya, like the whole continent would be equally desirable.
So it was sort of a mixed result. There’s also a hitch in our legal paperwork already. Both Preston and I have stuff in our legal background that we weren’t sure how to report. When we explained those things to her, she said she needed to check with the Legal Dept to find out if there’s any additional paperwork we need to fill out for them. She also gave us the impression that since they have so many applicants, the Legal Dept may just decide that since we are already needing special information that we just aren’t worth dealing with, and we’ll be out of the process already. She said she expects to hear back from them by this Friday (in a couple days), so we should know by then if we continue on to the next step.
If we continue on, then the next step is individual phone interviews with the recruiter. In the two-hour in person interview, we didn’t have a chance to talk about our actual work experience or interests, so in the phone interview we’ll have a chance to talk more about our actual skills and resume. We are a little curious how this will go, especially for Preston. The recruiter, or course, knows nothing about engineering, so we’re not sure how she will interview Preston in regards to his engineering skills. She’s not going to have any idea what three-phase motors are or why it would be a good idea for someone working in water and sanitation to know how to build one. In that interview, I will be playing up my farm-girl childhood, since I don’t want to be pigeon-holed into working in the public school system. Doing environmental ed would be great, but I’d also love to be working with some sort of agricultural cooperative, raising fiber animals and marketing the products. Maybe goats…that way you’ve got milk, meat, and fiber all in one. Or rabbits, since they’re fairly easy to breed and you’ve got meat and fiber. And of course, there’s always alpacas and llamas and camels! 🙂 So I’ll be playing up my experience with large animals (mostly horses) all my life, as well as working on a cattle ranch/dude ranch, raising pigs and chickens, gardening, etc. My work at Wilderness Awareness School speaks for itself as far as my ability to work with kids and to teach environnmental ed, so I don’t feel like I will need to emphasize that as much.
If we do well with the second interview, then our paperwork is sent off to Washington, D.C. where they will look over it and see if there’s a place in the world where Preston’s and my skills are both needed. If there is, then we will probably hear by the end of November, but possibly not until the end of December. And if we don’t make it that far, either because Legal disqualifies us this week, or because anything else doesn’t work out, that will be fine. I’m pretty excited about next steps in our lives here in the States, and all of those next steps are on hold until we find out if we’re going to be out of the country for 2+ years. If we aren’t going into the Peace Corps, then we’re going on a several month road trip. Not sure where exactly, but probably south along the Pacific coast. We’ll rent out the house for 6 months and hit the road. After that, we’ll get a dog and plant a garden and get jobs like fine upstanding citizens and work on creating our own businesses. We both have a vision of a wildlife rescue/environmental ed/fiber farm/surfboard shop somewhere on the peninsula, but we’re a little ways away from making that a reality. So we’re just on hold for working towards that until we know for sure what’s going on with Peace Corps.