How to Become a Foreign Service Officer
Barcelona Market | flickr | creative commons | mishkabear
Chris McConnell | GovCentral
Step Four – Personal Narrative and Qualifications Evaluation Panel
If the State Department likes what they see so far, they will ask you to submit a Personal Narative (PN). This is another critical portion of the application process that asks you to describe the knowledge, skills, and abilities you could offer to the Foreign Service. You will have three weeks to submit the narrative after the request is sent.
So this writing sample is really about you and what you have already accomplished.
The best advice I can give is the same advice my college English professors gave me. “Show. Don’t Tell”
Talking about how you have these awesome leadership and communications skills will not impress the State Department. Your PN will really shine if you can actively describe your leadership experience.
Some questions to consider while writing your Personal Narrative:
Last year, you had to selected judges for the office chili cook-off. How did you handle the region conflicts between Human Resources and Marketing?
When making a critical decision, who do you consult first?
(for men) Barber or bartender?
(For women) Wine club or book club?
Yes, these are not very serious questions, but the State Department does really give some good advice when writing your PN.
- 1. Give positive examples that demonstrate your abilities
- 2. Identify learning experiences
- 3. Indicate how your learning experience will contribute to your success in the Foreign Service.
Your PN is reviewed by the a Qualifications Evaluation Panel (QEP), which consists of trained Foreign Service Officers. The QEP takes a holistic approach to your application, making an evaluation on your educational and work background, the Personal Narrative, language scores, and the result of your FSOT.
It’s important to know that the QEP makes its recommendation based on which career path you seek to join as well as your results from the various tests and essays you’ve written thus far. There is no perfect grade and there really isn’t any minimum grade. The QEP looks at how well you might perform in your selected careerpath That being said, the State Department suggests tellingly that your Personal Narrative is the opportunity to impress the QEP.
If you are considered among the best qualified candidates, you will then move along to an interview portion, which is known as an oral assessment.