Wry Exchange

The All-important Interview
10-03-07, 12:27 pm
Filed under: Exchange Program, Exchange Students | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Students are usually interviewed by a team consisting of program volunteers, experienced exchange parents, and former exchange students.  The interview teams have a prepared list of questions, but are free to deviate at any time.  Students should expect to be interviewed for 30-40 minutes, and parents are interviewed for approximately 10 minutes.  What are the interviewers looking for?

Student: First impression, attitude/demeanor during interview, appealing personality, thoughtfulness of answers, answers relevant to questions asked, ability to express self, ability to think under pressure, intelligence, flexible, adaptable, tolerant, leadership activities, service activities, maturity level, potential, be a great US youth ambassador? Does student have or had a job? What do you think are the student’s strengths and weaknesses?
Parents:How does the family interact?  Why do the parents think their child will be a good FES?  Why do they think their child wants to be a FES?  Do both parents support the student?
Interviewer: Do you think the student should be a FES?  Where do you think the student should go? Shouldn’t go?  Do you have any reservations?

Practice at home in front of a mirror.  Look at your face as different thoughts cross your mind.  Remember-EVERYTHING is a test.  The interviewers may try to see how you react to stress by asking tough questions.  How you answer is as important as what you say.  You will be observed from the time you enter the building.  People will watch how you interact with your parents, how and if you interact with other students, if you pay attention during group discussions, and how well you comply with instructions.

What to wear:  Dress to respect the interview.  This is important, so take care of yourself.  Wear khakis or nice pants/skirt/dress with a non t-shirt top.  A suit is nice, but not necessary.  If you aren’t sure, ask!  The person scheduling you will be happy to answer your questions.  What is appropriate in Appalachia may not be appropriate for the West coast.   I used to say “Wear what you’d wear to church or for a job interview.”  Kids would show up in ratty jeans and dirty flip-flops.
What not to wear: Anything wrinkled or stained.  Anything with sequins, rhinestones, or sparkles.  We’ve interviewed girls who look like they are on their way to a school dance.  Don’t wear evening clothes.  The interviewers don’t want to see bare tummys, cleavage, tattoos, or facial piercings.  PLAY THE GAME.  The interview isn’t really the place to express yourself.  Get accepted, then put your piercings back in, and take the makeup off your tattoos.   You are going to represent the US abroad as a youth ambassador.   Dress as you would on your first day teaching at a Catholic school, or interning for John McCain.

Edit to add personal note: This was my 100th entry.


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