Time frame: Very variable. Approximately 20-30 minutes per trainee.
• Provide opportunity for trainees to assess their performance in the program and their progress since the last interview in areas they have targeted for improvement;
• Provide feedback to trainees regarding their performance and progress and share any suggestions the staff has regarding the trainee's continued work during in-country training;
• Encourage trainees to focus on their own suitability, feelings and sense of commitment to spending two years as Peace Corps Aquaculture Volunteers;
• Provide each trainee an opportunity to express any concerns, ask questions, or discuss any issues he/she may wish to share with the staff.
Overview: This is the last personal interview before the final interview. It should be very open and any major issues that concern either the staff or the trainee should be discussed at as much length as is appropriate. This is an important time for trainees in terms of really making decisions. At this point, the end of training is in sight and the concept of spending two years overseas as a fish culture extensionist is much more real. It is a critical time of self-assessment, not only in terms of skills and performance, but also regarding attitude, desire and commitment level. The format for the interview is similar to the last one, but there should be a lot of flexibility to accommodate the needs of each trainee. The questions posed in this interview are meant to en courage the trainees to think about what they have learned about themselves in training in terms of working overseas as volunteers.
Note: Please review notes from personal interviews discussed in Chapters Twelve and Fourteen.
1. The trainees are again asked to review the self-assessment forms they filled out for the third week interview, and to think about their progress throughout the program. They should identify and be prepared to discuss the skill areas in which they feel the strongest as well as those in which they still lack some confidence, this includes both technical and non-technical skill areas. In addition, trainees should be reminded that this is a very critical time to give careful, honest thought to the commitment they will be making when they go overseas. In light of what they have learned about the job of aquaculture extension and about themselves, they should really examine their own feelings about the decision they must make over the next week or so.
2. As in previous interviews, this one will be conducted by the Master Trainer and at least on other trainer. Both trainers greet the trainee, and the Master Trainer reminds the trainee that the staff members might jot down some notes during the interview to remember points they wish to return to.
3. The trainer asks how the trainee feels now about the goals he/she set for him/herself at the beginning of the program, and about the progress he/she has made toward achieving them.
4. The Master Trainer asks the following questions. The order in which they flow and other follow-up questions depend upon the trainee's responses and/or concerns expressed.
• After eight weeks of training, managing your pond,presenting and listening to seminar, going on the field trip, etc., you now have a much better idea of fish culture and fish culture extension. You probably have some new perspectives on the job you'll be doing overseas. Thinking about what you know about you personal qualities and characteristics and reflecting back over the past eight weeks, in what ways do you feel you are particularly well suited to aquaculture extension work? What aspects do you think may be more difficult for you?
Note: Trainees turned in an assignment related to this question after returning from the field trip. Staff members should be sure to read those before this interview as their may be points in them that could be referred to during this part of the interview.
• How are you feeling at this point about you commitment to spending the next two years working in (country name) as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the aquaculture program?
• Is there anything else you'd like to talk about today?
• Getting back to the present, what are your plans for squeezing the most out of this last two weeks of training?
Feedback is shared throughout this section of the interview as appropriate based on issues raised (or not raised) by the trainee. The staff members can provide some of the staff's perceptions regarding the master trainer's first question, and can make suggestions regarding the last question. In any case, in concluding each interview the trainee should be encouraged to make the most out of his/her training right up until the last minute.
• The timing of this interview might seem strange since it occurs so close to the final interview. This is another case of a modification that was made based on experience. In earlier programs, this personal interview was scheduled for week seven, and then the final interview was the only remaining interview. There were a few problems with this. For one thing, since week seven is completely full with seminar presentations, it was extremely difficult to fit in the interviews. If they were to happen at all, they had to be kept extremely short. The trainees tended to be tired and distracted by their seminar responsibilities and were not really prepared to focus on self-assessment and other matters discussed in the interview.
• Upon returning from the field trip trainees often have some new perspectives. They have had an opportunity to learn more about the job they are preparing for and to see it in practice. They have had time to reflect on what they are doing and on what they are about to commit to. With the end of training suddenly looming close, they often give more thought to what they will soon be leaving behind. For many trainees, this is the first time they really face the decision they are making in joining Peace Corps, and in some cases they have a need to talk things out. Thus, both logistically and in terms of best meeting the needs of the trainees, this turns out to be a much better time for this interview than week seven.
• One final point is that, by having an interview close to the final interview, the staff has an opportunity to discuss any issues that may be uncomfortable or difficult before the final interview. In borderline cases, this gives the trainee another opportunity to make specified improvements if necessary. In any case, since the tone of the final interview should be, if at all possible, upbeat, positive and confidence-building, it is best to get more difficult issues dealt with prior to that time.
• If possible, staff members should meet very briefly with each trainee during week seven after the trainee has completed his/her seminar presentation to allow the trainee to discuss his/her own perceptions about the presentation and to provide specific feedback on it from the staff's point of view.