FAQs & Resources > Application & Selection Process

Application & Selection Process

According to the UN Charter and personnel policies of other IOs, the primary consideration in the selection of staff is the need to secure the highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity. Most organizations are making special efforts to recruit qualified women for professional positions and pay due regard to geographic distribution in staffs when recruiting and selecting individuals.

Application Tips

Apply Selectively

The UN and other IOs looks for a “perfect match” when filling a position. Be sure that you have all of the essential qualifications and as many of the desired qualifications as possible to be most competitive for the position. Review the organization’s website and mission. This will help you recognize what a reviewer might be looking for and whether or not you are qualified for the position.

Tailor Your Application to the Job

Like you would for any job application, tailor your application to the job and the organization. It’s important that you list your skill sets and not just your experience or duties in previous jobs. Explain how your skills are relevant to the job you are applying for and how you can hit the ground running. Also, familiarize yourself with the organization’s work and goals in your field, and highlight your expertise and experience relevant to them.

Provide Detailed Descriptions

Details of past positions you have held are the most important part of the application, especially for experiences that are relevant to the work of the UN and other international organizations.

Make sure that you use the key words that appear in the qualifications section of the vacancy announcement. The hiring manager is reviewing hundreds of applications and you want to make the connection between your skills and their requirements as clear as possible.

Note Managerial Experience

Management skills are required of individuals interested in supervisory positions. This will be a key skill the UN and other international organizations look for in your applications. Indicate the number of staff you’ve supervised in each position.

Highlight International activities

Be sure to include in your application any international positions, consultancies, and meetings you have been involved in, and note key accomplishments or results as well as any leadership roles that you held. Also include other international experience that is relevant to the UN’s work.

Note Language Skills

Note your proficiency in English and any of the other official UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish) or other languages.

Double-Check your application

Check all of your application material before you submit it to the organization. Typos don’t convey the interest and professionalism that your resume should convey. This is a simple test to pass, and the UN and other international organizations do notice.

Choose References Carefully

Appointment at the United Nations is subject to satisfactory and complete verification of academic qualifications and employment. If you are a candidate under closer consideration, reference checks will be conducted and you will be notified accordingly. Regarding academic qualifications, only applicants with academic qualifications from accredited (officially recognized) universities or institutions are considered eligible. The accreditation status of an educational institution is verified through this reference check procedure.

Selection Process

Evaluation of the application

Your application is evaluated in terms of experience, education and skills. Only if it is determined that you meet most or all of the requirements will you be contacted to undergo an assessment (i.e. a knowledge-based test or another type of simulation exercise).

If it is determined that you are not eligible or only meet some or none of the requirements for a particular position, you will be informed at the appropriate time that your application was unsuccessful. In this case, you should not be discouraged but apply for other jobs for which you feel qualified.

Assessment exercise

The assessment exercise could be either a written exam or any other type of simulation exercise or case study. If language is a core requirement of the job you may be asked to complete the assessment in the language you are claiming fluency in addition to your native tongue. These assessment exercises are conducted in strict confidence and you will be informed in advance of the time, type and length of the assessment. If, based on the result of the assessment, you are short-listed for a competency-based interview, you are informed accordingly.

If you are not short-listed for the competency-based interview, you will be informed at the appropriate time. Please note, however, that the type and frequency of correspondence with individual candidates may vary throughout the application process.

Competency-based interview

The competency-based interview can take place either via telephone, video conference or in person. You will be notified in advance of the time, duration and means and/or place of the interview as well as of the names of the interview panel members. During the interview, the IO learns more about your combination of skills, attributes and behavior that are directly related to your successful performance on the job.

Selection notification

Based on all the findings of the various evaluation and assessment stages, a pool of qualified candidates is recommended for selection. Such a recommendation is reviewed by an independent body, composed of staff and management representatives, which makes sure that the applicable procedures were followed correctly and that all applicants were considered in a fair, transparent and objective manner. After the review body has endorsed the recommended candidates, the head of the department makes a selection.

If you are the selected candidate, you are informed that you have been selected. If you were in the group of candidates recommended for selection, but you were not selected for a particular job opening, you will be informed that you were included in the relevant roster for possible future selection. This means that within a period of two years for men and three years for women, you may be contacted to confirm your interest in an upcoming similar job opening in the same job family and at the same level without having to undergo the entire application process again. Even if you have been included in the roster, you should actively continue to apply for job openings for which you feel qualified.

If you are not included in the pool of candidates recommended for selection, you will be informed at the appropriate time.

Understanding Roster Management

A roster is a pool of candidates who have already been vetted as viable candidates through the application process and who are ready for immediate selection. If you have been informed of your inclusion in the roster, either based on the recommendation for a specific or for a generic job opening, you can potentially be selected for an upcoming job opening without having to repeat the entire application process. Once you are included in a roster, you will be regularly contacted by e-mail to either confirm your continued interest in upcoming job openings, or you may choose to temporarily put on hold or permanently withdraw your roster candidature.

Shortlist Support

If you are “shortlisted” for a vacancy you applied for, please contact us so we can assess the status of your application. The UN and many other international organizations have various definitions of what being shortlisted really means but it typically means that you have been invited for an interview and are considered to be a finalist for the position.

Appointments based on Geographic and Gender Balance

  1. To enable as many member states as possible to have their nationals represented on the professional staffs, the UN and some other international organizations consider geographic balance when filling vacancies.
  2. Some UN agencies have developed formulas for determining the “desirable range” for equitable representation of member countries on their staffs. These formulas are generally based on member states’ financial contributions, their population, and general membership.
  3. Some UN agencies are seeking to hire more qualified women applicants in hopes of increasing the representation of women in professional and senior posts.

Additional Resources

Here are additional UN interview preparation videos and tips from UN offices, HR professionals, and individual UN employees that prospective UN job candidates might find useful: