Uncertainty can be happiness

"Security is a false god," or running around the world as an FSO

Oral Assessment

Posted by quirksalight on June 16, 2009

I passed! With the skin of my teeth….5.30 out of 7.00, and the cut off was 5.25. Whew! I definitely will be scheduling a Korean language test to get the extra points (0.4).

There were 10 of us at Annex 1. 6/4 split, women/men. We were told that we were only the 2nd group to have more women than men. Of the ten of us, 3 passed, one econ, one public diplomacy, and consular (me).

I was so paranoid that I would oversleep, or get there late that I woke up at 4:30 am to be on the Metro at 5:58am. Then of course, I nearly missed the Foggy Bottom stop with my thoughts running frantically in little circles. Rushing off the subway, I had a good laugh at my own woolgathering, which actually calmed me down. That and forgetting to charge my cell phone made me feel that the crappy stuff had happened, so that things will be alright. Walking to Annex 1, I realized that my fear of oversleeping got me there 40 minutes early. Yup. I sat out in the courtyard for about 10-15 minutes before going inside. Still, I was the first one there and met the other test takers as they filtered in. At 7am, we were met by Crystal and Shannon; two amazing people who were awesome as they took us through the entire process.

First was the Group Exercise. We were all very lucky – our group of five just meshed amazingly well. Everyone participated and were engaged in the discussion. I know I spoke WAY too fast, but it didn’t matter. We came to consensus with plenty of time to spare. I passed this section.

After a bit of waiting was the Case Management. All the women took it the same time. Of the three sections, I found this to be the hardest. I’m used to processing information, but the hardest part wasn’t that. Instead, it was shaping my response and figuring out the details of what was being asked. I got a grasp on it, but a little too late. This one I failed.

The last section was the Structured Interview. With the scheduling, I and one other person had nearly 90 minutes of waiting while the others were at their interview or Case Management. Definitely not easy, waiting… my stomach definitely reflected my nerves…

Walking in, I knew that there would be three sections; motivation and background, hypotheticals, and past experiences. I knew that I was fumbling this; I would give an answer and realize later that I had a better one. I know a lot of it was sheer nervousness from the CM fumble, which I thought I would do well on. It wasn’t until the Past Experiences, where you get to pick a question out of a pair that I was able to get it under control and really engage the interview. At that point, I was able to be engaging, not sound stiff and wooden, and be passionate about what I believed in. In retelling of my past experiences, I was even able to toss a joke or two and got a response from the examiners! Even then, I knew that I was on the edge, with the rough start to the SI. So when given the opportunity to talk more at the end, I grabbed it and tried to explain why I wanted to be a FSO in a manner that felt like I was baring my soul to the world. I passed this section.

Waiting was excruciating. All of us sat in a room, trying to make small talk as we waited to be called out, one by one, but our attempts failed and we sat in an uneasy silence, jumping at the tiniest sound from the hallway. Midway through, I got called out by one of the examiners from my SI. Walking into the same room I had entered this morning for the GE, I was told to stand next to the wall. At this point, my heart jumped; and two other test takers walked in. As the lead examiner told us “Congratulations, you have …,” we all jumped and hugged each other, whooped and yelled. Apparently I was a little too loud, as one of the examiners hushed me, saying that not everyone had been told. But they understood, as both of the examiners had great big smiles on their faces.

We got the rundown of what’s next, got fingerprinted, and then headed out. Still feeling rather high from the excitement, but totally exhausted to boot.

One thing I would tell anyone who’s taking this is to be passionate. I honestly think as I got more animated and passionate about what I was saying in the Structured Interview, I became a stronger candidate. Also, seriously think what you want your interview to conclude with. I took advantage of it, and I am very glad that I did.

Now, clearance!


6 Responses to “Oral Assessment”

  1. Yoni Weinberg said

    congratulations!!!!!!! hey if you can please send me a copy of your personal narratives it would help me out a lot I might have to send mine soon and an example would be nice… yonizzel@gmail.com

  2. WriterBabe said

    Thanks for the recap. My Oral Assessment is coming up and I’m grateful for every bit of shared information (and advice), I can find. Congratulations and best wishes for the security/medical clearances!

  3. alex said

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m preparing for my OA and found it really useful. It’s especially encouraging to hear that you didn’t perform 100% the entire day but were able to recover and ultimately pass.

  4. David said

    Congratulations, mate! And thanks for sharing your experiences on the OA. I’ll be in Washington for mine on Monday. Your insights are certainly greatly appreciated – especially with respect to being passionate about your experiences and beliefs in the SI.
    Are you still on the Register or have you been assigned an A-100 class?

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