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How to prepare for your UN phone interview


If you have been selected for a UN phone interview you are one of the best candidates for the job. This should give you confidence that you can manage the interview, if you prepare in a convenient way. Below are some tips and considerations that can improve your interview performance significantly.

First steps after the invitation

Save the job description on your computer, in case you have not done it already. Sometimes job offers are taken off the web when they expire. When you prepare for the interview, you want to have the job description handy.

Human rights professionals use a lot of acronyms for international documents, courts, UN departments and other human rights entities. Scan the job descriptions for acronyms you don’t understand and make sure you know what they mean and how they are pronounced. There is nothing worse than not understanding an acronym that is used throughout the interview.

Inform yourself in more detail about the department you would be working for. What are the duties and what is the role of the department within the UN System? Can you find interviews with employees of the department on YouTube? If you know the name of your interviewer try to find out more about their background.

Create a mind map

One of the biggest advantages of a phone interview is that you can make notes that you can use during the interview to increase your eloquence and to make sure you do not forget any of your skills, qualifications and achievements. This is particularly important if you are heading for an entry level job and cannot base your responses on several years of experience.

One of the best ways to structure the notes for your interview is a mind-map. Most UN job offers contain Responsibilities, Competencies, Work experience and Education; those are the categories of your mind map. When designing your mind map write the name of the job in the middle, create branches to the categories you would like to include. Under each branch write down your most important qualifications and achievements. Make sure you keep your notes as short and condensed as possible and do not draft full sentences: The mind map should only guide your thoughts. Whatever you write down in your mind map, reflect on how it relates to the job description. Which skills and competencies did you gain where and by doing what? Write down examples where you proofed specific skills that are required in the job description. If the job needs a strong communicator reflect on where you proofed strong communication skills e.g. when you managed the social media account in an internship or drafted texts for a website. If the job requires a lot of organizational talent think of actions you performed where you proofed organizational skills like helping to organise a conference or other events.

Setup your interview location and yourself

Ensure that there is low or no background noise when you are having the call. Talk to your flatmates, family, children or neighbour and inform them about the call if necessary.

If you are conducting the call via skype setup and test your microphone in advance. If someone is using the same internet connection ask them not to download huge amounts of data during your interview. Do not type on your computer to take notes during a skype call. This can cause loud noise for the interviewer to the extent that it is impossible to understand what you are saying.
Turn off all devices that may interrupt you during the conversation. If something is interrupting you anyway during the interview, despite all these measures you have taken, don’t get upset. Apologize and tell the recruiter what is happening in a polite way. Recruiters are human beings too and sometimes disruption is impossible to avoid. Have pen and paper ready during the interview to take notes about future dates or appointments.

If you are on the phone consider to stand up during the interview and try to smile. The interviewer will not see you but your gestures will reflect in the tone of your voice. In the minutes before the interview stretch out and occupy space with your body. It is scientifically proven that this will increase your self-confidence.

Good luck!

How To Prepare For A Competency Based Interview At The UN

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Human Rights Careers

Human Rights Careers (HRC) provides information about online courses, jobs, paid internships, masters degrees, scholarships and other opportunities in the human rights sector and related areas.