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Being prepared for your UN Jobs interview is one of the most important things candidates have to do. In order to get well-prepared for the interview stage, knowing some tips is definitely a useful strategy.
To help you with this task, this article will provide you a few tips to ace the interview stage at the United Nations job of your dream. It’s just a small sample of all the information covered by our eBook “Landing your dream job at the United Nations“. Get a copy today!
In pursuit of its mission, the OpenIGO network has developed a comprehensive eBook, as well as support and guidance services, with the aim of highly increasing your chances of success in these competitive selection processes. These services include revising your UN Jobs application documents (Curriculum vitae/Resume, Cover Letter) and a mock interview, as per the original UN Jobs model.
We have already helped dozens of candidates become UN Professionals and we can also assist you in passing this competitive selection process!
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6 UN JOBS INTERVIEW TIPS
#1 Plan and practice
Research the organization: carry out in-depth research on the organization. Find out about its objective, strategic plans, targets, operations, work model, etc. Having a good knowledge of the organization is fundamental, so that you are equipped to give strong answers to the questions posed during the interview;
Research the position: having knowledge about the position which you are applying for is indispensable (such as the main responsibilities of the position, the activities assigned to it, and its career plan, among others);
Prepare answers: as previously mentioned, think about possible questions which could be asked at the interview and how you might answer them. Include the competencies listed for the exam area/job opening you have applied to. Then write down your answers and study them;
Carry out simulations before the interview: study the type of interview the organization uses and carry out simulations. Ask for help from a family member, friend, or even a specialized professional. If possible, record your simulations on video and then analyze your answers and body language.
#2 The days before the interview
Be careful about food: eat something light and nutritious. Avoid food that you are not used to and may give you indigestion. Do not forget to stay hydrated.
Re-read your Personal History Profile (CV): read your CV again, remembering the reason for every piece of information listed. You should be able to explain and justify each item of information, should these be questioned by the interviewers.
Choose the interview location wisely: whether your interview will be conducted by Skype or telephone, before the interviewer calls, make sure that you find a location that is silent and where the internet or cellphone connection is good and stable.
Relax and rest: try to carry out activities which leave you feeling rested and relaxed. Read a book, meditate, or go for a walk. Bear in mind that you have already done everything you could to prepare for the interview, so nothing is better than resting and remaining calm at this time.
#3 Etiquette and presentation
In case of a videoconference interview, dress appropriately: take special care with your choice of clothes. The dress code is formal wear (a suit for both men and women). You should have a formal haircut (for men) or simple hairstyle (for women). Men should take special care with cleanliness and trimming their facial hair, if applicable. Cover up any visible tattoos and remove any piercings you may have.
Address the panel formally: when introducing yourself to the interviewers, do so formally but remember to smile. If you have any difficulty in understanding their names, repeat them as a way of confirming that you have said them correctly. Address them as Mr. (for men) or Ms. (for women) plus their surname;
Introduce yourself to the interviewer: when you introduce yourself, be friendly, smile, and say your name clearly.
Avoid certain topics: avoid discussing controversial or inappropriate topics, such as religion, politics, criticizing work colleagues or former employers, and family problems.
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#4 Body Language
This topic mostly applies for interviews conducted via Skype, but some tips might also be useful for those carried out by telephone.
Only part of our communication is effected through words. Another part takes place through our gestures, facial expressions, and posture. Every gesture has a meaning. Therefore, it is important for you to be aware of your body language in order to avoid sending the wrong message. Generally speaking, recruiters are trained to interpret candidates’ body language; even if they do not have this knowledge, they will read it naturally. So, try to follow these recommendations:
During the interview
Erect posture: try to keep your back straight during the interview—this position shows interest in the conversation and balance. Avoid leaning back when listening to a question, which means that you are defensive or uncomfortable. Avoid looking down, as this signifies nervousness and a lack of confidence. If you are given a telephone interview, stand up—this will make your voice sound clearer;
Smile: when you introduce yourself to the interviewers, smile at them. This will make you look friendly and bring you closer to the interviewers, making the experience more comfortable for everyone. Even on the telephone, smile: it will lend your voice a pleasant quality.
Eye contact: during the interview, it is important for you to make eye contact with the interviewers. A lack of eye contact shows insecurity. However, be careful, this is different from staring. The ideal is for eye contact to be made between 70 and 80% of the time.
Neutral facial expression: keep a composed, frank, and neutral facial expression. Smile at the appropriate moments. You may make gestures while you talk but do not exaggerate!
Breathe: do not forget to take deep breaths and keep calm. Breathing quickly reduces your capacity to think clearly.
Closing the interview
At the end of the interview, try to remain calm and confident. Remember to thank the interviewers for their time.
#5 Answering questions
Orality: speak confidently, controlling the tone of your voice so that you are audible but not too loud. Avoid making jokes and using slang during the interview. If possible, use language which is similar to that used by the organization.
Show enthusiasm: both in speaking and in your answers, try to show the interviewer a positive attitude.
However, be careful not to appear desperate for a job.
Listen, reflect, and answer: listen carefully to what the interviewer is asking and try to understand the main point of their question. Take a moment to reflect and organize your answer. It is common to take some time before answering but do not take too long. Then, give the most complete answer possible.
Avoid mumbling: when answering the questions, avoid filling in silent moments with “um”, “ah”, “er” or words which do not add content to the answer and only serve to give you more time to think.
Avoid boasting, lying, and criticizing a former job: there is no need to pat yourself on the back too much or embellish your achievements. The interviewer will know how to identify exaggeration, which makes a candidate appear weak. Always avoid lying! Facts can be checked at any time, and there is a real possibility of contradictions occurring during the interview. Do not speak badly of a former job, boss, or organization, as this sounds impolite and disrespectful.
#6 Asking the interviewer questions
The interviewers will usually allow you to ask questions at the end of the interview. However, it is common for candidates to feel uncomfortable about doing so. This is a big mistake, since it is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your interest in the opportunity, display your competencies, and impress the interviewers.
If you do not ask questions, it could read as a lack of interest. In turn, asking weak questions may also affect your chances negatively. Therefore, it is important to prepare in advance. Some appropriate tips are as follows:
Do not ask too many questions: remember that the interviewer will allow you to ask specific questions. Therefore, prepare between one and three questions—more than this is excessive. It is you who are being interviewed and not the other way around. One question should be asked at a time, with the most clarity and objectivity possible.
Questions to be avoided: you should be careful about the questions you ask the interviewers. Avoid obvious questions which may be answered by researching the documents on the organization’s website, and also any questions about the recruiter’s personal life. Also be sure to avoid queries about salary, vacations, and other types of benefits, as it may give the impression that you are only concerned with material reward.
Questions to be asked: the importance of taking advantage of the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview is clear, if this space is granted to the candidate. But what questions should be asked? You should show that you have researched the organization and the position and that you were attentive throughout the interview. Try to ask clear, objective questions, which are not answered with a “yes” or “no”. Some example questions are provided below:
- What is a a UN staff member typical working day like?
- How would you describe United Nations culture?
- How was project/action X planned and launched?
- Do you have any queries in relation to my application?
By having access to this information and much more from our eBook, you will certainly have a head start over other candidates!
With that in mind, check out our eBook, “Landing your dream job at the United Nations”, which will help you land your dream job at the United Nations System. It will introduce you to the complex world of the United Nations and it will guide you through all the stages of the selection process. Access: