07/03/2013 05:51 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

20,000 Want to Be U.S. Diplomats Each Year (VIDEO)

More than 20,000 Americans apply to become diplomats every year, but only a few hundred make it through the difficult written and oral exams, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, director-general of the U.S. Foreign Service, says on this week's episode of "Conversations with Nicholas Kralev."

"We don't recruit people for jobs," she says. "We recruit them for careers and a way of life." She explains what's required to pass the exams, and what skill sets the State Department looks for in candidates. She also talks about the shortcomings in training and professional development of U.S. diplomats.

A Foreign Service officer since 1982, Thomas-Greenfield assumed her current post in April 2012. Before that, she was ambassador to Liberia. In addition to Africa, she has served in Europe, South Asia and Latin America.

Watch the full episode