This page is currently being developed. Contents will gradually be added. A French version is in process.

 

IMPORTANT: POLNET VACANCY EXERCISE ACTUAL TEST WINDOW 

The second POLNET Vacancy Exercise 2017 (SPT and DST)  test window is now closed.

**NOTE: THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO YPP CANDIDATES**

This page provides tests dates, information on the assessment process, and other resources relevant for applicants to vacancies under semi-annual staffing exercises for:

  • The Political, Peace and Humanitarian job network (POLNET)
  • The Information and Telecommunication Technology job network (ITECNET)

In future, the same approach will also be applied to other job networks as they will gradually phase in under the new staffing system. 


IMPORTANT NOTICES

  • All assessment communications will ONLY be sent to the primary email address listed in your Inspira account. Please make sure that this email address is up-to-date and without error. In addition, please add "no-reply@un.org" to your spam exception list. 

  • Applicants who apply to positions for which they are rostered will be exempt from the assessment process.
    Be sure to check what you are considered rostered for in I
    nspira

 

Click on the respective job network to learn more about test dates and the specific assessment procedure

 

THE ASSESSMENT PROCESS - How Does It Work?

The assessment process has seven steps and is designed to deliver candidates who demonstrate required knowledge, skills, and abilties relevant for both the position to which they have applied as well as for a career in a job network more generally.This process has been designed based on good practice across similar organizations and is centrally coordinated by the Office of Human Resources Management to ensure consistency and fairness.

 

 

Rostered Candidates
IMPORTANT: Applicants who apply to positions for which they are rostered will be exempt from the assessment process.
Be sure to check what you are considered rostered for in inspira

  • Please note: a roster membership does not mean that you are rostered for ALL job openings in that network/family/level. When you are rostered for a position, you will receive an automated email from inspira informing you about the job opening and inviting you to apply as a rostered candidate to that position.
  • Your roster membership is based on job codes of similar functions. In order to view the similar job code titles for which you are considered rostered in Inspira, you can go to "My Roster Memberships" and click on "Associated Titles" for a complete list.
  • If one or more of the positions to which you apply does not share the associated job code title(s) for which you are rostered, you are required to partake in the full assessment process including the Standard Pre-Selection Test (P-level only), possible Drafting Skills Test, possible Substantive Knowledge Test, and an Interview.
  • If you apply to a position for which you are rostered, you will be advanced to the end of the process and exempt from assessment. It is possible to be rostered for a particular position and possibly only need to be screened for suitability, while not be rostered for another position and be subject to the full assessment process.
Learn more about the Standard Pre-Selection Test

What is the Standard Pre-Selection Test?

The Standard Pre-Selection Test is a multiple choice test and is one of the steps within the new United Nations Staff Selection System.

What is the purpose of the Standard Pre-Selection Test?

The UN Standard Pre-Selection Tests are used to assess the level at which an individual is able to operate in terms of learning, organizing, processing, and evaluating information as well as identifying appropriate courses of action within the context of a specific UN Job Network. Standard Pre-Selection Tests are known to be good predictors of how well a person will perform in a variety of jobs and how well they operate in dynamic environments.
 
Standard Pre-Selection Tests do not provide measures of job knowledge, work experience, or technical skills. These elements are assessed elsewhere in the selection process.

How is the Standard Pre-Selection Test administered?

The Standard Pre-Selection Test is administered over the internet using the UN Online Examinations and Tests System. The Online Examinations and Tests System should preferably be accessed through the latest version of Mozilla Firefox, Google, Chrome, or Microsoft Internet Explorer via laptop or desktop computers. Applicants need to make sure that their computer is stable and has a reliable power and internet connection while taking the Standard Pre-Selection Test.
 
Test-takers can complete the test at a time most convenient to them over a 48 hour window using an internet connected computer. If there are multiple parts in the test, each test part is timed and can be taken separately during those 48 hours. For example, applicants can take one test part in the morning and another in the evening. Particular test parts can take between 30 to 45 minutes with a total test time of 2 hours. All test parts must be completed during the 48 hour testing window. Applicants are encouraged to allow enough time to initiate and complete the test during this 48 hour period as once the window closes, the test will no longer be accessible.
 
Because the new staffing system runs on a predetermined and fixed timeline there is no flexibility to postpone or re -schedule tests. Therefore, if applicants were unable to complete the test within the testing window, their application will no longer be considered for this round of the staffing exercise.

What is the format of the Standard Pre-Selection Test?

The Standard Pre-Selection test consists of multiple-choice questions in one or more test parts that may include: Textual, Analytical, Logical, Numerical and Social Reasoning. Those who are invited to the Standard Pre-Selection test will also be provided with a sample test to help familiarize themselves with the specific format of the multiple choice questions in each test part. 

How and when will applicants know that they will have to take the Standard Pre-Selection Test?

The dates for the standard pre-selection test are fixed for each staffing cycle (i.e. twice a year) and will appear in the Job Opening for which applicants have applied. Applicants will only be invited to the standard pre-selection test if they are deemed eligible through the initial eligibility screening following their application.  
 
To determine whether an applicant has been invited to take the standard pre-selection test, applicants should access their Inspira account about one week after the closing date of the job opening. Applicants who fulfil the requirements of the eligibility screening will see the name and date of the test under "My Upcoming Test Schedule" in their inspira account. Shortly before the testing window, they will also receive an email inviting them log-on to the UN Online Examinations and Tests System, where they will be given the opportunity to take a sample standard pre-selection test and, once the testing window is open, the actual standard pre-selection test.  
 
If an applicant has not received the email invitation and if there is no test listed in Inspira, then he/she can assume that they will not be invited to take the test. This may be either because they have not met the eligibility criteria, or because they are already rostered for the position (in which case they will not have to take part in the remainder of this assessment process).  
 
In addition, a dedicated page on the United Nations HR Portal (hr.un.org/page/mobility) lists all testing dates as they become available. Applicants should check the website regularly. However, applicants are only invited to take a particular test if the test appears under "My Upcoming Test Schedule" in their Inspira account and they have received an invitation email.

I am rostered  – do I still need to take the Standard Pre-Selection Test?

Maybe – Applicants who apply to positions for which they are rostered will be exempt from the assessment process, including the SPT. However, a roster membership does not mean that you are rostered for ALL job openings in that network/family/level. When you are rostered for a position, you normally would receive an automated email from Inspira informing you about the job opening and inviting you to apply as a rostered candidate to that position.
 
Your roster membership is based on job codes of similar functions. In order to view the similar job code titles for which you are considered rostered in Inspira, you can go to "My Roster Memberships" and click on "Associated Titles" for a complete list.
 
If one or more of the positions to which you apply does not share the associated job code title(s) for which you are rostered, you are required to partake in the full assessment process including the Standard Pre-Selection Test (P-level only), Drafting Skills Test (P-level only), possible Substantive Knowledge Test, and Interview.
 
If you apply to a position for which you are rostered, you will be advanced to the end of the process and exempt from further assessment. It is possible to be rostered for a particular position and possibly only need to be screened for suitability, while not be rostered for another position and be subject to the full assessment process.
 

How can applicants prepare for the Standard Pre-Selection Test?

Approximately a week before the actual test, applicants will be provided with a sample test consisting of instructions, explanations, and questions for each test part. They may take the sample test as many times as they wish and with no time constraints. We encourage applicants to try the sample test from different devices to identify the best environment for their actual test, and to familiarise themselves with the test format.  
 

How is the standard pre-selection test scored? How do I pass this test?

After checking all test questions for potential bias using the latest statistical techniques, the minimum passing score for the standard pre-selection test is set at the overall test average for all job openings. All applicants who scored lower than average are deemed unsuccessful on the test regardless of which job openings they applied to. Additionally, for large applicant volume job openings, the passing score maybe raised to advance the best performing candidates to the next step. An applicant can therefore pass the test for one job opening, but fail it for another, because there were significantly more applicants for one job opening. As a consequence, it is possible to obtain a score that is considered above average, but still fail the test because there were enough candidates who scored higher.

How can test-takers provide feedback on the Standard Pre-Selection Test?

An online survey is included at the end of the test which will allow test-takers to provide feedback on their test-taking experience.

How and when will test-takers know the outcome of the standard pre-selection test and what is the process going forward?

After the Standard Pre-Selection Test, applicants that completed the standard pre-selection test will receive a feedback message including their results per test part as well as statistical scoring information on the SPT. Those applicants that pass the standard pre-selection test will be screened for suitability for the position the applied for. Those applicants deemed suitable may be invited to complete a substantive test, which will be given during the period specified in the Job Opening.

Learn more about the Substantive Test(s)

What is a Substantive Test?

A substantive test is a constructed-response (open writing) test directly related to the requirements of any given job opening. It is one of the steps within the assessment process under the new United Nations (UN) Staff Selection System.

What is the purpose of a Substantive Test?

Substantive tests are used to assess the substantive knowledge and technical skills required for the position an applicant applied for. Substantive tests simulate performance on the job by asking test takers to provide a work sample under testing conditions. Substantive tests are known to be good predictors of how well a person will perform in the job.
 
Substantive tests provide limited insight into competencies; these elements are assessed elsewhere in the selection process.

How is the Substantive Test administered?

A substantive test under the new staffing system is administered over the internet using the UN Online Examinations and Tests System. The Online Examinations and Tests System should preferably be accessed through the latest version of Mozilla Firefox, Google, Chrome, or Microsoft Internet Explorer via laptop or desktop computers. Applicants need to make sure that their computer is stable and has a reliable power and internet connection while taking the tests.
 
Test-takers can complete any test they are invited to at a time most convenient to them over a 48 hour window using an internet connected computer. Each test or test part is timed and can be taken separately during those 48 hours. Each substantive test is timed between 90 and 180 minutes, with the time for each question or test part being indicated.
 
Because the new staffing system runs on a predetermined and fixed timeline there is no flexibility to postpone or re -schedule tests. Therefore, if applicants were unable to complete the test within the testing window, their application will no longer be considered for this round of the staffing exercise.

What is the format of a Substantive Test?

Substantive tests are constructed-response tests, which means that candidates type a written answer to each question into the UN Online Examinations and Tests System. Each substantive test is based on the requirements outlined in respective job opening. The tests may therefore differ in format due to differences in requirements for the associated job openings, but will generally consist of one or several questions, which can consist of one or several parts each.

How and when will applicants know that they will have to take the written tests associated with the job opening they are applying for?

The dates for written tests are fixed for each staffing cycle. However, not all job openings will have a substantive knowledge test. If the hiring office has opted for a substantive knowledge test, applicants will only be invited if they are deemed eligible through the eligibility screening in Inspira, and, if applicable, have passed the standard pre-selection test (in the current or previous exercise), taken the drafting skills test (if applicable), and are deemed suitable for the position through a review of their Personal History Profile. To determine whether an applicant is invited to take a substantive test, applicants should access the "My Upcoming Test Schedule" page in their Inspira account, where the tests they are invited to are indicated starting at least three days prior to the testing period. About 72-hours before the actual testing window opens, they will also receive an email inviting them to log on to the United Nations Examinations and Tests System. Applicants are encouraged to log into the system as soon as they receive the login information to ensure that their set-up for taking the test on-line works well. Applicants will be able to navigate the system, but they will only be able to take the actual test starting at the indicated time (New York time) and start date.
 
It is important to note that knowledge may be assessed in interviews. If an applicant has not received the email invitation to a test or interview and if there is no test listed in Inspira, then he/she can assume that they will not be invited to take the test or partake in the interview for that job opening. Candidates already rostered for the position will not have to take part of the assessment process.

How can applicants prepare for the Substantive Test(s)?

Applicants are encouraged to carefully review the requirements outlined in the job opening. Substantive Test(s) questions will assess the substantive knowledge and technical skills needed to perform the main duties and responsibilities of the position. Substantive Test(s) simulate performance on the job by asking test takers to provide a work sample under testing conditions. They are known to be good predictors of how well a person will perform in the job.
 
Substantive tests provide limited insight into competencies; these elements are assessed elsewhere in the selection process.

How can test-takers provide feedback on the written tests?

An online survey is included at the end of the test, which will allow test-takers to provide feedback on their test-taking experience.

How and when will test-takers know the outcome of the Substantive Test and what is the process going forward?

If an applicant did not pass the substantive test, he/she will not be invited to an interview. If an applicant passes the substantive test, he/she will be invited to an interview within 2-6 weeks of having taken the substantive test.

Learn more about the Interview

What is a competency based / combined competency based and substantive interview?

Competency based interviews are also called "behavioral interviews" or "criterion based interviews." Such interviews are based on the concept that past behavior and experience is the best indicator of future performance. In other words, your history tells a story about you: your talents, skills, abilities, knowledge and actual experience in handling a variety of situations.
 
In addition to the classic competencies, the new staff selection system introduces substantive questions related to the knowledge and technical skills needed for functions at the P-3, P-4 and P-5 levels.

How is the competency based / combined competency based and substantive interview administered?

The interview is administered via a remote video conferencing platform which allows the panel and the applicant to see and hear each other. Information detailing how the interview platform functions will be provided to candidates in the email invitation they will receive upon passing the substantive test.

How and when will applicants know that they will have to take the competency based / combined competency based and substantive interview?

Candidates will be informed whether they are invited to the interview through email, which they will receive two to six weeks after they took the substantive test.

How can applicants prepare for the competency based part of the interview?
Useful tips for your interview:

  1. Prepare a wide range of brief real life stories about your accomplishments. Be aware of the specific skills each story illustrates and remember to include the positive outcome or lesson learned from each experience.
  2. Be ready to discuss your strengths and your ability to learn from past experiences. Also think about how you could contribute to the work of the United Nations and to the specific position you are applying for.
  3. Review the competencies mentioned in the job opening. These will be probed in your interview, so your stories should show your skill in these competency areas.
  4. You should be prepared to address positive results and achievements using these competencies and also challenges you have had in each of these areas.
  5. The structure of your answer should be: Situation, Action, Result.
  6. Share information you feel is appropriate and relevant.
  7. Listen to the question carefully. Keep to the point. Be as specific as possible.
  8. Do some research on competency, or behavior based interviews. There is a lot of material available about preparing for such an interview structure.
  9. Learn as much as you can about the department and office you are applying to and the work it does.
  10. Practice, practice, practice.

Competency based interviewing questions can look like this:

  • Tell us about a situation when you went above and beyond your manager's expectations.
  • Give an example of a time when you used your problem solving abilities to resolve an issue?
  • Tell us about a time where you had a number of demands being made on you at the same time? How did you handle it?

How and when will applicants know the outcome of the competency based / combined competency based and substantive interview and what is the process going forward?

Candidates will be informed of the outcome of their interview and the entire selection process through email and by checking their application status in their inspira account. The application status will show “Under Consideration” until a selection decision has been made. Once the selection decision has been made, the selected candidates’ status will show “Selected”, while the status of those who were rostered (i.e., passed the entire selection process, but did not get selected) would show “Rostered”. The status of those who did not pass either one of the steps in the selection process (i.e., eligibility screening, standard pre selection test, suitability check, substantive test or competency based / combined competency based and substantive interview) would show as “Recruitment Completed”.


INFORMATION ABOUT THE UN ON-LINE TESTS AND EXAMINATIONS SYSTEM

On-line testing will be used for the standard pre-selection test and the Substantive Test portion of the assessment process. Eligible applicants will receive an email notification prior to the opening of the testing window to access the platform. They will be able to test the platform and have access to a sample test.

Check out the technical requirements!
Technical requirements of the online testing platform:

  • The on-line testing system should preferably be accessed through the latest version of Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome.
  • While other browsers can be used, for the best technical test taking experience use the latest version of Google Chrome.
  • Make sure that Javascript and Cookies are enabled
  • Please disable any pop-up blockers while using the UN Online Examinations and Tests platform
  • Make sure that the computer you are planning to take the test on is stable and has a reliable power and internet connection.

The UN is not responsible for tests which are not completed or submitted due to technical circumstances beyond its control.

Support:

  • If you experience technical difficulties with the UN On-line Tests and Examiniations platform, please report the nature of the issue as soon as possible  through the dedicated support site which will be provided as part of your email invitation.
  • Try to leave sufficient time in the testing process to deal with any technical issues, as once the testing window has closed there will be no further opportunity to complete the test.

 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Any other questions? Check here first!
General FAQs

What if an applicant is already rostered for this position - do they have to go through the assessment process?

Rostered candidates who are already on pre-approved rosters will not be subject to further assessments.

Is this assessment process online? How does it work?

Yes, the standard pre-selection test, drafting skills test, and the substantive test(s) are delivered on-line and applicants can take their assigned test from anywhere at any time during the respective testing windows. Applicants will be emailed a web link and unique login credentials which can immediately be used to log into the system to take a sample test. Once the actual testing window for a assigned test has opened, applicants will be able to find their test in the same place as the sample test.
 
In addition, the interview will also be internet based using on-line live video panel interviewing.
 
We would strongly advise all applicants to set up an email spam exception for all emails from "no-reply@un.org" to avoid missing relevant communications.

Do applicants need to take leave to take a test?

This is left up to the applicant. However, a test will take up no more than 3 hours of your time  out of a 48 hour period. The standard pre-selection test consists of one part or can be broken up into multiple test parts that last from 30 to 50 minutes. It is possible to do a 50 minute test part in the morning before work, one over lunch, and another the following morning. Therefore, tests can be spaced out over the 48 hours to suit your work schedule.
 
Substantive Tests will range from 60 to 180 minutes in a 48 hour testing windows and will also be staggered so as to avoid too many requiring completion during the same testing window. In some cases if an applicant applied to two more positions at the same level in the same job family, it may be the case that several substantive tests for different positions will be given during the same testing window, however, the individual tests can be taken anytime during the 48 hour testing window.

If applicants apply to two or more positions, how do they complete all these tests?

Regardless of how many positions and at what level an applicant applies to within the POLNET job network, they will only take one standard pre-selection test (if not exempt) and one drafting skills test - if required for a particular job opening. However, because substantive tests are directly linked to the requirements of specific job openings applicants may need to take different substantive tests for the different positions they apply to. For positions with the same substantive profile, the same test may be given for several job openings. Therefore, if you apply to several job openings that are linked to the same test, you would only need to take the test once.

What if an applicant is sick or has an emeregency during a test window?

In order to give the necessary flexibility in scheduling when to take a test, every test is available for completion within a 48 hour period. Because the new staffing system runs on a predetermined and fixed timeline, tests cannot be postponed and must be completed  there is no flexibility to postpone tests. Therefore, if an applicant is unable to complete the test within the testing window, their applications will no longer be considered. Applicants are, however, encouraged to apply again for future staffing exercises that occur twice a year.

What if an applicant is on official or business travel and cannot take the test?

The assessment period dates are published in the job openings at least 65 days before the first tests take place. Applicants are strongly encouraged to plan accordingly and will be informed of their assigned testing window several days prior to the test taking place. If an applicant is unable to complete the test within the assigned testing window, for whatever reason, their application will no longer be considered. Applicants are, however, encouraged to apply again for future staffing exercises that occur twice a year.

Can applicants take a test at a time outside the communicated test window?

Because the new staffing system runs on a predetermined and fixed timeline, tests cannot be postponed and must be completed  there is no flexibility to postpone tests. Therefore, if an applicant is unable to complete the test within the testing window their applicants will no longer be considered. Applicants are, however, encouraged to apply again for future staffing exercises that occur twice a year.

Will applicants see their test scores?

Approximately two weeks after the Standard Pre-Selection Test, candidates that completed the standard pre-selection test will receive a feedback message including their results per test part (if applicable) as well as statistical scoring information on the SPT. However, test results of the Drafting Skills Test and Substantive Test(s) will not be shared and will be used internally for the hiring process only.

What if the applicant doesn't have a reliable internet connection?

We recommend that applicants take the sample test, which is provided before the actual test, to determine if the platform is working or not. Should applicants have problems connecting to the UN On-line Examinations and Tests platform it is recommended that they first ensure their internet connection is working for other sites, that they are accessing the system through the latest version of either Mozilla FireFox, Google Chrome, or Microsoft Internet Explorer. In addition, should applicants' internet fail for a significant period of time during a test, they should contact the UN Support Desk through the dedicated support team as soon as the internet connection has been re-established. Technical support is only available through the dedicated support page. While the UN will take every available step to ensure that applicants have a fair test experience, no remedial action can be take after a test window and the new staffing process runs on fixed, predetermined timelines.