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UN Jobs: How many selection stages separate you from a UN job?

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UN Jobs: How many selection stages separate you from a UN job?

April 26, 2021

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

UN Jobs Selection Stages

What are the different stages of the selection processes held by the UN? What are the most common requirements that the organizations within the UN System expect from you? These are questions that are key to getting a job at the UN System.

In this article, we’ll answer these questions in detail. Without a doubt, with this information, you will take the lead in the dispute for the vacancy of your dreams.

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!

For more info, access:

UN System Jobs: Products & Services

UN Jobs Selection Stages

Generally speaking, the UN job vacancy selection process can be divided into six stages:

i) Advertising period;
ii) Longlisting;
iii) Shortlisting;
iv) Interview;
v) Post-interview process;
vi) Contacting applicants.

Advertising period

The advertising period varies according to the different UN System agencies. Some positions receive applications throughout the whole year, others open during pre-determined periods (seasons), and there are also specific vacancies that open up, according to agency demands.


In the longlisting, an initial analysis of the applicants is conducted through automatic systems that compare information from the participant’s profile with the requirements established, according to the agency’s demands, and the specifications established by the recruiters.

In order to increase the chances of your application being successful at this stage, you should provide information/references that confirm your skills in a specific area/sector of the organization. It is easier for the systems to select applications that demonstrate a high level of professional specialty.

At OpenIGO, we have analyzed documents from dozens of UN candidates. This service is confidential and your files will be deleted from our systems when the service has been completed.

Would you like to know more about our application review service? Access:

UN Jobs Application Review


The shortlisting stage is formed by potential applicants for the position, but the vacancy is not yet guaranteed. The people on this list are generally contacted for the fourth stage, in which one of the agency recruiters interviews them.


An interview is usually held over the telephone, but it may also be via video-conferencing (or, very rarely, in person), in which questions are asked that not only verify the applicant’s competencies, but also their knowledge about the agency’s activities, and relevant global development topics.

The following questions should be expected: “Why did you select this agency?” and “What will your contribution be to our organization?”.

Without a doubt, the interview is one of the most decisive moments, since it is here that the information provided in your CV, cover letter, and other documents, will be evaluated in practice.

The selection cycle of UN Jobs includes an interview phase, whose main aim is to find out more about the candidate, and analyze their knowledge, competencies, and experience. It is widely understood and disseminated by the United Nations that their interview model is the competency-based interview (CBI) but, in fact, it is mixed, combining competency-based questions with traditional ones.

OpenIGO can help you increase your chances of succeeding in these competitive selection processes with our UN Jobs Mock Interview service!

Would you like to know more about our application review service? Access:

UN Jobs Mock Interview

Post-interview process

The post-interview process involves the last selection preparations, which may include a review of the application documents, final adjustments and a comparison of the applicant’s performance in all the previous processes, so that a final decision can be made.

Contacting applicants

If no irregularities are found, it continues onto the sixth stage: contacting applicants. Generally, contact is made by email (usually within 1 to 2 weeks after the interview): the agency sends a job proposal, in some cases with a possible deadline to start the work, details about compensation, and other practical information.

However, if the individual selected decides not to continue with their application, the next person on the shortlist is contacted.

In addition, in some selections, there may also be a stage called the written test, which is usually soon
after the shortlisting, to confirm the capacity to write, summarize, demonstrate the applicant’s general knowledge of the organization, and their area of expertise.

This entire process might take up to 4 months or, sometimes, only a few weeks! It really depends on the agency and the urgency of filling the position.

UN Jobs Selection Stages

UN Jobs Most Common Requirements

Will my area of expertise be relevant to the United Nations? Which skills and competencies should I have to attract the recruiters’ attention? These, and other questions, are common from UN System job applicants.

A general overview of the main requirements expected by the selection process will now be presented. You will then be able to prioritize the organizations that are most suited to your profile.

Generally speaking, the most common requirements are: age; education; area of expertise, competencies, and language knowledge, among others.

The requirements vary according to the vacancy and organization. Further details of each requirement are provided below:


On the question of age, the requirement may vary greatly. The UN System usually accepts applicants who are a minimum of 18 years old at the time of application, but some agencies/vacancies might adopt a 50 slightly higher minimum age requirement.

With regards to the maximum age, the majority of the organizations do not impose any age restrictions for job positions. There may be exceptions to this rule, such as the United Nations Young Professionals Program and the Junior Professional (JPO) Program which have very strict age restrictions.


The educational background required varies according to agency, or specific vacancy. Generally speaking, the most common academic requirements are:

  • Hold at least a Bachelor’s degree;
  • Hold an advanced university degree (Master’s or PhD).

Areas of Expertise

UN System organizations work with various topics connected to global development. In addition to fieldwork, they also need to carry out administrative support activities, like any organization. Therefore, there are job opportunities for applicants from all academic areas.

Language proficiency

Proficiency in the English language (oral and written) is fundamental for the majority of the UN System job opportunities. However, many UN System organizations may request fluency in other official UN System languages, such as: Arabic, French, Spanish, Russian and Mandarin.

There is also the case of positions that require fluency in other languages, which is particularly true in the case of field offices.


The majority of the agencies require applicants to be nationals from one of their Member States to be able to apply for job opportunities.

However, others do not impose this prerequisite, accepting applicants from all countries, as is the case of UNICEF, UNCTAD, UN-Habitat, UNOPS, WFP and UNWTO, among others.


With regards to restrictions, the main one is that applicants do not have a direct relationship with United Nations employees. In other words, they are not parents, children or siblings.

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:

eBook – Landing your dream job at the United Nations

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