When your career aspirations and the knowledge, skills and competencies you’ve built lead you to apply for a job opening, you need preparation to be most effective in a competency-based interview. You are likely to be asked to demonstrate your competency through situational questions—what you would do or how you would approach various challenges.

Competency-based interviewing questions might be like these:
Q: Tell us about a challenging assignment when you went above and beyond your manager's expectations.
Q: Give an example of a time when you used your problem solving abilities to resolve an issue between staff members.
Q: How have you handled situations when you had a number of demands being made for delivery at the same time?

Before your interview

One Research the work programme of the Department/Office.
Understand the goals and results the teams in the unit are striving for. Primary sources of information are the official reports and other documents as well as its intranet or website.



Review the competencies in the job opening.
Match your past behaviour and experience with what is being asked for in the job duties and have examples that show your skills in these competency areas. Prepare examples of how you could contribute to the work in the specific position you are applying for.


Complete the learning programme “Pursuing Your Career in the UN”.

Access it through the Blue Line, a suite of learning programmes available through the United Nations System Staff College. The programme has a helpful module on interviewing (along with modules on the selection system, tips for filling out your job application and more).

Four Prepare a range of brief real life stories about your accomplishments.
Link specific skills to each example and remember to include the positive outcome or lesson learned from each experience. Prepare to address positive results and achievements and also challenges you have had in each of these areas using the competencies.

Five Practice, practice, practice—especially with someone who has been successful in an interview.


At your competency-based interview

One Greet the interviewers and thank them for the opportunity.

Two Listen to the question carefully. Keep to the point. Be as specific as possible

Three The structure of your answers should be: Situation, Action, Result.

Four Share information you feel is appropriate and relevant.

Five In a face-to-face interview, keep a relaxed yet business-like body posture, calm hands, open and thoughtful facial expression.


During a video-based interview you will not be able to pick up on as many body language cues as in person. Be sure to listen very carefully and to check with the panelists on whether you have answered adequately.

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