STEP 5: Oral Assessments


Candidates who are selected by the Qualifications Evaluation Panel (QEP) are invited to participate in the Oral Assessment, a series of exercises that constitute the next stage of their candidacy. The Oral Assessment is conducted in Washington, D.C. and in various other cities around the United States. Candidates must report to their assigned Assessment Center at 7:00 a.m. on their scheduled day. The assessment may end as late as 6:00 p.m. for successful candidates. The email message that invites candidates to the Oral Assessment advises candidates what documents they need to bring to the Assessment Center.  In addition to the listed documents, candidates are also asked to bring the Social Security numbers of family members who might be traveling with them overseas. This will help the medical clearance process. Provisions for candidates with disabilities will be made available at each Assessment Center but must be arranged with the U.S. Department of State’s Board of Examiners in advance.

The Oral Assessment is not a traditional job interview. It is an assessment for selection as an entry level Foreign Service Officer. Oral Assessment exercises are based on a job analysis of the work of the Foreign Service and test for the skills, abilities and personal qualities deemed essential to the performance of that work.

This day-long program seeks to determine whether you have the 13 Dimensions (PDF) that are essential to the performance of Foreign Service work. It includes a group exercise, a structured interview, and a case management writing exercise.

Candidates are evaluated solely against these criteria by four assessors who observe the performance of candidates in a variety of situations designed to enable the candidates to demonstrate the requisite skills. The assessors are Foreign Service Officers from various career tracks with a wide variety of experience in the geographic and functional Bureaus of the Department. Assessors receive training from professional consultants on how to conduct assessments in an objective manner. The candidate’s performance is observed and where the candidate’s score correlates to an established performance standard.

The Oral Assessment is not an adversarial process. Candidates do not compete against one another but instead are judged on their capacity to demonstrate the skills and abilities necessary to be an effective Foreign Service Officer.

Oral Assessment Sections

The Director of the Board of Examiners (BEX) for the Foreign Service releases a detailed explanation of the Oral Assessment and the dimensions measured by it, as well as sample exercises.  Click here to download.

The Group Exercise

For the first exercise of the day, candidates are brought together in a group of three to six to comprise an Embassy task force charged with allocating resources to competing projects in their host country.

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The Structured Interview

All candidates participate individually in a Structured Interview conducted by two assessors. For this portion of the Oral Assessment, assessors will have reviewed the candidate’s ACT Application Form, Statement of Interest and stated career track preference. Candidates are expected to respond to questions based on their personal background, experience and motivation.

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Case Management Exercise

The third part of the oral assessment is the 90-minute Case Management Exercise. The purpose of this segment is to evaluate the candidate’s management skills, interpersonal skills and quantitative ability. Writing concise, correct, and persuasive English is also important in this exercise. This exercise is indicative of the candidate’s ability to integrate and analyze information, to interpret quantitative data, and to display sound judgment. The candidate will be asked to incorporate data and other statistical information into the analysis and recommended solutions.

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Next: After the Oral Assessments –>


  1. Zach says:

    So if I have a chronic medical condition that requires an intravenous medication every 8 weeks I would be deemed unfit for work?

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