Update: The FSOT in 2020
Beginning with the February 2020 FSOT, as a part of the registration process, candidates will be asked to complete their Personal Narratives (PNs). Candidates will be asked to address the following six areas: Leadership Skills, Interpersonal Skills, Communication Skills, Management Skills, Intellectual Skills, and Substantive Knowledge. Each of the six PNs will consist of no more than 1,300 characters.
The six personal narrative questions have historically been the following (or a variation):
- The Foreign Service seeks a diverse workforce with broad job skills and a depth of experience to represent the United States overseas. Briefly describe why you chose the career track you selected and what you bring to that career track.
- In the Foreign Service, you will confront challenging situations that require identifying the problem, collecting relevant information, and formulating or advancing innovative solutions to resolve the problem. Describe a time when you responded innovatively to unanticipated circumstances to solve a problem. Include the following elements in your response: the situation, steps you took to think through this situation, and how your actions addressed the situation. What were the results?
- In the Foreign Service, you will be called upon to interact effectively and diplomatically with people in difficult situations. Describe how you have used your interpersonal skills in a specific situation to resolve a problem or achieve a goal. Include the following elements in your response: identify the goal or problem, and the specific steps you took. What was the result?
- Communication skills are critical to successful diplomacy. Describe a situation in which you used your communication skills (either in English or another language) to further an aim or achieve a goal. Include the following elements in your response: the situation and the steps you took to deal with this situation. What was the result?
- Foreign Service Officers are often required to manage projects, demonstrating the ability to plan and organize, set priorities, employ a systematic approach, and allocate time and resources efficiently. Describe a project you managed or helped to manage and how you sought to achieve the project’s goals. Include the following elements in your response: the project, and the steps you took to manage this project. What was the result?
- Leadership can be defined as motivating others, encouraging creative solutions, establishing positive team relationships, or significantly influencing the direction of the work. Describe how you have demonstrated leadership, either on one particular occasion or over time. Include the following elements in your response: the situation, and the steps you took to show leadership. What was the result?
If you plan to take the FSOT in 2020, I recommend that you start to work on your personal narratives ASAP.
With the changes to the test in October 2019, and now the changes beginning with the February 2020 test, State is really mixing things up!
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