Recruitment Process in UN

Recruitment Process in UN, UNICEF, OSCE, and other NGOs.

NOTE: This guide is updated for the 2021 year requirements.

This guide describes the recruitment and selection process for filling local FTAs and international FTA posts, which are either non-rotational or are rotational posts but not covered by candidate pools. (What is FTA you may see here )

The recruitment process will be described in the example of UN, or UNHCR.

Formal criteria.

The first step is to find a vacancy that is suitable for your background and your knowledge. The UN job system is quite complex and the official UN website doesn’t provide all available jobs and vacancies. This is a real surprise, but it’s true. The UN website provided some international vacancies, but really not all of them. There a lot of national vacancies are missed. So we advise you to use our service to find a suitable job for you.

You may use search criteria like Organisation, Location (Countries, Cities), Contract level, and so on.

Minimum academic and work experience requirements

The minimum standard for all international Professional and higher posts is usually a completed, advanced university degree (Masters or equivalent), combined with a number of years of relevant work experience. In certain cases, and prior to advertising the post, the Hiring Manager may decide to consider candidates holding a completed Bachelors’ degree with two additional years of relevant work experience in cases where specialized job requirements do not necessarily call for a Masters’ degree or the local labour market makes the requirement impracticable. The minimum standard for General Service posts is completion of high school (secondary school), combined with a number of years of relevant work experience For further information on minimum academic qualifications and relevant work experience requirements for recruiting staff in UNDP.

The first common mistake is to apply for a job that is not relevant to your past professional or education qualifications and experience. Always read carefully Duties and Responsibilities, Competencies and Required Skills and Experience. If it is mentioned that candidate needs “Education: A Master’s degree or higher”, you really need a Master degree of higher. If in vacancies mentioned At least 5 years of experience developing and managing user management systems – you really should have 5 years of such experience and this experience should be described in your P-11 form (special Personal History form – analog of the CV of UN purposes. More detail information about P-11 you may find here ). So carefully read the Qualifications and Experience criteria in the vacancy description. It saves your time and the time of the HR Officer.

Also, some vacancies require two and more languages (for example English and French) so pay attention to Language Requirements.

Also if you would like to know the position salary, please read this article – UN Salary Scale in UN, Types of UN contracts.


Step two – Now you are sure that your qualification, education, and experience is relevant for the published vacancy. You may press apply now button and our service will open the page with the vacancy details on the official website of the UN or other NGOs.

Warning. At the bottom of the vacancy description, there may be mentioned special requirements for the application process. Some UN agencies, NGOs have different applications rules. There are most common – 1) In the bottom is mentioned email of HR, and it is asked to send to this email your CV, and cover letter. 2) Sometimes, it is also required to send a Personal History form, P-11) 3) Not special requirements is mentioned and there is only Apply Now button.

So do not hesitate and press applies now button and fill in all boxes with a red star *. Fill in your actual email address, because all answers You will receive on this email. In the Resume and Motivation letter – you may copy-paste your CV and Cover letter. Attention – there may be special requirements like a Maximum of 1000 Characters for the Motivation / Cover Letter.


After you fill in all boxes – you should press Submit application. But this is not the end.

After this, you will be offered to attach your resume or CV. Attention. Here you should attach your completed Personal History form ( P-11). This is very important because the P-11 form is most important in your application process. Different UN agencies (UNICEF, UNDP, UNHCR) have different versions of the P-11 form, so You should download the P-11 from the official website of the UN agency that published the vacancy. After you attach your P-11 form you press the button to send/submit an application.

What’s next?

The full selection process in UN agencies takes from 2 weeks to 4 months. There is a joke, if you would like to find a good job at the UN, you need half a year or even more.

The first step or reviewing of candidates is long-listing.

Long-listing process: The long-listing of candidates involves an initial screening of applications by the Hiring Unit against minimum corporate requirements, including eligibility, academic qualifications, years of relevant work experience, language fluencies and the order of retention (PA, CA, long serving FTA and qualified women, in that order).

Short-listing process: Following the long-listing process, the remaining candidates are reviewed for short-listing. To arrive at a short-list of candidates, the Hiring Unit engages in a closer review of a candidate’s professional and managerial background against the requirements of the post, giving additional weight to those candidates who possess one or more of the desirable variables for the post.

The short-listing process also involves additional fact-finding. Hiring Units are encouraged to use a telephone screening to test language fluencies and to clarify issues raised in the job application, including the P.11. Hiring Units may wish at this stage to employ a simple technical screening to assess a short-listed candidates actual relevant skills. The additional information or assessment results obtained from a telephone screening must be fully documented.

This review should also look into potential issues involving residency requirements applicable for the duty station.

Reference check.

Former UNDP or UN Common System staff: Prior to completing the short-listing process, the Hiring Unit, to the extent possible, must conduct a preliminary reference check on candidates who indicate on their P-11 form that they were formerly employed by UNDP or elsewhere in the UN Common System. The Hiring Unit is expected to verify the competencies and integrity of these candidates directly with their previous UN employers, as well as their employment history, and to determine the circumstances under which they were separated from service.

Reference checks for all candidates, whether current UN Common System staff or not, should be conducted only after the Hiring Unit has consulted with the candidate and obtained permission prior to contacting the current employer for the purpose of conducting a reference check. It may be appropriate to conduct the mandatory reference check only after a shortlisting process and an interview is conducted.

If your application is successful, you will get an email to the next step of a selection process – usually, it is a writing test. How to prepare for the writing test you may read here. The next step is an interview. If you’ve been invited for the interview – your chances to get a job are quite well. Usually, not more than 10 candidates are invited for the interview. A common interview is arranged by Skype but can be personal. Examples of interview questions you may see here.

If your Interview is succeeded you will receive a job offer on the email after 1 – 2 weeks (sometimes it may even after 1 month).