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Personal Narrative Questions (US)

The Personal Narratives stage of Foreign Service Officer (FSO) recruitment in the Department of State is a screening exercise put in place to significantly reduce the number of candidates who pass the Foreign Service Officer Test and advance to the Oral Assessment. The six questions now used require very short essay responses, and focus on past experiences of candidates in relation to certain “precepts” deemed essential for FSO work in all the career tracks. Good candidates often do not move forward to the Oral primarily because government instructions are limited, behavioral evaluation is unfamiliar to most applicants, and the window to produce top-quality Personal Narrative answers is tight.

Our Personal Narratives Coaching has helped clients succeed for several years. We not only explain what is really required in the process, but we take you through how to plan and develop your submission effectively by tailoring your strengths to meet evaluation requirements.

Personal Narrative Coaching Breakdown

We can work with you in three different ways: i) show you how to do the answers yourself based on our proven coaching techniques augmented by sample materials; ii) coach you, then critique your drafts to ensure quality and precision; or iii) prepare the complete submission in close cooperation with you.

Our program provides:

  • An informed analysis of past and current State Department instruction on the Personal Narrative process to reveal information you need to know to excel
  • An explanation of behavioral evaluation and a breakdown of the precepts you will be judged on
  • A detailed discussion of each question to select appropriate examples from your experience that will resonate with the assessors
  • A set of templates to use to craft your answers in the manner expected and boost your score
  • Advice on selecting your references and on briefing them to respond properly if contacted
  • Sample Personal Narrative answers we have developed with clients who were successful in advancing to the Oral Assessment
  • Editorial input, as required, to refine your final submission by the deadline

Who Can Benefit from Our Help?

Our specialized knowledge and advice will professionalize your answers and enhance your prospects in this highly competitive phase of FSO recruitment. Clients have included individuals attempting Personal Narratives for the first time as well as previously unsuccessful candidates trying to learn how to get ahead. We have worked with attorneys seeking a career change, people from business backgrounds, candidates with international experience in different sectors and organizations, military officers pursuing a new challenge, and individuals from the academic world at all levels.

Why Use Our Services?

We are the only career coaching firm that specializes in helping candidates understand promotion competitions—from entry level to executive level, and advance in government, multilateral organization and international NGO hiring .

No service offered by government, universities or the private sector—past or present, in North America or abroad—matches our expertise or placement record over the past 25 years. The success rate of our clients in institutional hiring and promotion processes attests to the high quality training we provide. Please take the time to read the testimonials sent to us by clients and supporters displayed under Client & Supporter Comments [click here].

For additional information on what we do and why we know how to help you, see our List of Standard Programs and Services [click here] and the Profile of Our Director [click here].


One-on-one Personal Narratives Coaching by telephone:

  • From the U.S. or Abroad $150/hour US (no taxes)

Long-distance consultations are carried out only on calls placed by clients. Times can be arranged to take advantage of discount rates, international time zones, and client availability.

Further Information

Please Contact Us [click here] to discuss how we can help you.