Eight Steps to Becoming a Language-Designated Consular Fellow
STEP 1: CONFIRM YOUR ELIGIBILITY TO APPLY
To be eligible to apply for a language designated Consular Fellow position, you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen of at least 20 years of age, and be 21 years or older to accept a position;
- Possess at the time of hire a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. accredited college or university or an equivalency certification for any similar degree earned overseas;
- Be able to obtain and maintain a Top Secret clearance;
- Be able to obtain authorization to work in country or countries of assignment and;
- Speak a designated foreign language at a required level of proficiency (Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, or Spanish).
STEP 2: SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION
Now that you have confirmed our eligibility to apply, the next step is to complete the on-line application through http://www.PearsonVUE.com/cfpt and sign up for the Consular Fellows Program Test (CFPT). The application includes resume, education, and professional experience as well as Personal Narrative questions.
Submit Personal Narratives and QEP
In addition to Consular Fellows Program Test (CFPT) scores, the Department of State screens candidates for job-related qualities that indicate a candidate’s ability to perform Foreign Service work successfully. This is done through the Qualifications Evaluation Panel (QEP) review, which looks at a candidate’s total file: the CFPT and Personal narrative (PN) scores, work history, education, and personal experiences.
Consular Fellows Program (CFP) Candidates will submit Personal Narratives (PNs) as part of the job application when they register to take the CFPT. Although these narratives are evaluated later in the process, candidates are asked to complete them at the beginning and how seriously candidates address them can make or break their candidacy. The PNs will ask candidates to answer questions describing the knowledge, skills, and abilities they would bring to the CFP. Candidates will be asked to address the following six areas:
- Leadership: innovation, decision making, teamwork, openness to dissent, community service and institution building
- Interpersonal Skills: professional standards, persuasion and negotiation, workplace perceptiveness, adaptability, representational skills
- Communication Skills: written communication, oral communication, active listening, public outreach, foreign language skill
- Management Skills: operational effectiveness, performance management and evaluation, management resources, customer service
- Intellectual Skills: information gathering and analysis, critical thinking, active learning, leadership and management training
- Substantive Knowledge: Understanding of U.S. history/ government/culture and application in dealing with other cultures. Knowledge or application of career track information that is relevant information.
Candidates are sent an email once the Qualifications Evaluation Panel has completed their review of the application. Successful candidates are provided instructions on language testing.
Candidates should keep the following considerations in mind when drafting their PNs:
- Respond appropriately to the questions asked. A candidate may have a great story that highlights his or her unique qualities, but if the response does not directly address the question, the candidate will receive a lower score.
- The PNs allow candidates to draw attention not only to what they have done, but also how they did it, why it mattered, and what effect it had. Simple lists of accomplishments, recaps of candidates’ resumes, or theories learned in school are not effective.
- The QEP panels are composed of experienced, trained current or former Foreign Service Officers who read the PNs from hundreds of candidates and are familiar with the type of experience a candidate acquires when spending two weeks in Africa for a graduate school project or working as a summer intern in the State Department. While candidates should not be shy about reporting their actual accomplishments, inflating the facts or their work positions is counterproductive and very likely to work against them.
- Candidates should not make assumptions about the types of responses the Department of State is looking for or the type of candidate it wishes to hire. While most candidates have had some overseas experience — e.g., travel, study, or business — many have not. It is possible that a candidate’s summer job at a local animal shelter could provide a better response to a PN question than the experience acquired during study abroad.
- Candidates should spend time developing and refining their PNs. Draft responses in a word document and then copy and paste them into the application. Candidates should also be sure to have others edit and review their PNs.
- Before submitting their PNs, candidates should make sure their responses that not only answer the specific question, but are also appropriate to the work of a Consular Fellow.
- PNs should be clear, concise, and complete: state the issue, what you did to address the issue, and the outcome of your actions or solutions. This is what we call “why it mattered.” Avoid using passive voice wherever possible.
STEP 3: TAKE THE CFPT
Choose a test date and Pearson VUE test location that is convenient for you to take the CFPT. You will receive your score the same day you test.
STEP 4: QUALIFICATIONS EVALUATION PANEL
If your score qualifies, your application will move forward to a Qualifications Evaluation Panel (QEP) for further review. The members of the Panel are experienced Consular Officers trained in resume evaluation skills. Your education and work experience will be considered and scored in the QEP review process. The QEP measures some of the skills and abilities that are important to the work of a Consular Professional.
STEP 5: TAKE THE LANGUAGE TEST
The most competitive candidates from the QEP will be invited to take a language proficiency test with the Language Testing Institute (LTI) to confirm they have the required language skills. Both a speaking and a reading test are required.
Information on the LTI language test
STEP 6: TAKE THE CONSULAR FELLOW ORAL ASSESSMENT
Candidates who meet the required language proficiency will be invited to participate in the Oral Assessment process. The Oral Assessment includes a writing exercise and a structured interview to determine whether candidates demonstrate the 12 dimensions that are essential to successful performance as a Consular Fellow.
Information on the Consular Fellows Oral Assessment
STEP 7: CLEARANCES – MEDICAL AND SECURITY
All passing candidates must receive medical, security, and suitability clearances in order to be hired and serve abroad. Visit the Career Resources Download Center for a list of medical and security forms intended for those who have received conditional offers of employment after the Oral Assessment.
STEP 8: REGISTER OF CLEARED CANDIDATES
Candidates who received a conditional offer of employment and successfully completed the previous stages of the assessment process will be placed on a register of cleared candidates based on the language designated during the initial application process.