Welcome to your guide…


Q1. Tell me about yourself and the qualities you can bring to the UN? Sample Answer:

I first became aware of the great work carried out by the United Nations when I was younger and being someone who feels passionately about the values and ethics you abide by, the passion, skills and experiences I possess are a natural fit for this role. Prior to applying, I considered carefully the UN mission and vision statements, and more importantly, the competencies needed to perform this role to the right levels. My experiences to date include, always acting with professionalism and integrity, being able to work effectively as a wider team, having a ‘can-do’ and persistent approach to all tasks, being able to communicate strongly with clients and stakeholders and also planning and organizing my work effectively. I strongly believe that, if I am successful in my ambition to working for the United Nations in this role, I will be able to contribute positively to the team and the organization to help you continually work towards achieving your objectives.

Q2. Why do you want to work for the United Nations?

Sample Answer:
I want to work for the United Nations simply because you are an organization who shares the same passion and beliefs that I have held for many years. Promoting international peace, strengthening action towards climate control, human rights, the eradication of poverty and education are all objectives I want to be a part of. The work you carry out is ongoing and requires determination, professionalism, integrity and patience, and I would feel immensely proud to part of your organization. I understand that to work for the United Nations there comes a huge amount of responsibility, and I am ready for the challenge that this role will bring if you deem me to be a suitable fit for your organization.

Q3. Provide an example of when you experienced a setback at work?

Sample Answer:
When I first started work, I was part of a team whose responsibility it was to complete and deliver an important project for a client. We all worked really hard on the project for three months. However, when we came to deliver the project, the client refused to pay the invoice because we had failed to deliver the exact specification on one particular element of the project. The setback was entirely our fault. We immediately took responsibility for the issue, put things right before resubmitting the project to the client for reconsideration. They were then happy to pay the invoice. Whenever a setback occurs, I always take ownership of the situation, put things right and, above all, learn lessons from the situation so I can continually improve and develop and also prevent the same thing from happening again.

Q4. Tell me how you would explain something complex or difficult to someone who did not have the same level of knowledge as you?

Sample Answer:
I fully understand the importance of communicating effectively and using a style that is conducive to your audience. On that basis, in this type of situation, I would first of all ascertain exactly which aspect of what it is I was trying to explain, was not being understood. I would when look to explain it in a different manner. For example, I would cut out any jargon, simplify the text or choice of words I was using, and also look to use relatable scenarios and situations to clearly get the information across and understood. It would be my responsibility to know my audience well and to bridge any knowledge gaps that were present. As human beings, we are also better learning and absorbing from a visual perspective, so if I could use relatable drawings or diagrams whilst communicating, I most certainly would do. Finally, after encouraging open questions, I would make sure I confirmed and clarified the person fully understood my message and explanations.

Q5. Describe a situation when you put the needs of a client or customer first?

Sample Answer:
In my previous job I was speaking to a customer on the telephone who needed help understanding one of our products. The customer had limited technical ability, and so I decided to go the extra mile and help her fully understand the product. Under normal circumstances, I was not permitted to spend any longer than two minutes on each call. However, I saw this as an exceptional situation, and I felt it was in the best interests of the customer that we put her needs first. In all, it took me thirteen minutes to answer all of her questions and to make sure she fully understood how the product worked. I understand the importance of looking after customers and clients and to make sure I put their needs first when the situation requires me to do so whilst working for the United Nations.

Q6. Explain to me how you organize and plan your workload?

Sample Answer:
I organize and plan my work by following four specific steps.

The first step (STEP 1) is to determine the tasks that need my attention.

During STEP 2, I will prioritize and sequence my work. I decide which tasks are the most important, and then create a ‘to do list’ based on the order and priority of each task.

During STEP 3, I always set a definitive timescale for completion of each task. The timescale I choose will be very much dependent on when the client or my manager needs the task completing by. I always ensure all tasks are completed on time and will work extra hours if needed to fulfil my obligations. Finally,

STEP 4 involves me looking to remove any obstacles or distractions that may hinder me from completing priority tasks. For example, if I have a non-urgent call or task booked in, I may move these to make way for the more important and priority work I need to complete.

Q7. Describe a situation you were in when you encouraged a team to be more proactive or positive?

Sample Answer:
I really enjoy working as part of a team, and one particular situation comes to mind where I managed to motivate a team to get everyone back on track to achieve our objectives. One day, I was attending a meeting that involved lots of different internal team members, external stakeholders and clients. The meeting did not have a specific agenda, and there was also no chairperson to control or direct the meeting. As the meeting progressed, I felt we were drifting away from the meeting objectives and so I decided to take ownership of the situation by encouraging everyone to be more focussed on the meeting goals. I actually offered to chair the meeting, and with everyone’s approval, I quickly drew up a list of items we needed to discuss. I then gave everybody the option to contribute to the discussion before making notes of the action points and then moving on to the next agenda item. Once the meeting was completed, everyone congratulated me for encouraging everyone to gain focus and clarity and for facilitating a more proactive approach to the meeting.

Q8. Describe a time when something went wrong at work and you took control?

Sample Answer:
I was working on a project with 4 other team members and I felt the project deadlines were in danger of being missed. Having analysed the project timelines, and the milestone target dates that had been set, it was becoming apparent to me that we were going to miss them because a small number of team members were not, in my opinion, doing the work they were supposed to. I decided to take control as I was passionate about the project and I knew the consequences would not be good if we failed to deliver the project on time. I called a team meeting and expressed my concerns in an open and positive manner. I used facts to explain my concerns and also suggested a plan of action for getting things back on track. Without identifying specific individuals who were at fault, I focused the suggested plan of action on the wider team efforts and made sure we all took responsibility for the project moving forward. Although it was an awkward meeting, everyone agreed to my plan and, after 4 more weeks of hard work, we managed get the project over the finishing line and to the required standard.

Q9. Tell me about the hardest team you have ever had to manage?

Sample Answer:
I joined a team a few years ago whilst working for a new and innovative organization. A team had been put in place who were all full of fresh ideas and talent. It was my job to manage the team towards achieving the organization’s objectives. The team was particularly difficult to manage because there were so many intelligent, enthusiastic and innovative people who all wanted to lead the team in their own direction. Whilst I did not want to stifle creativeness or hunger, I had to take control and lead the team towards my own goals and objectives. I achieved this by initially holding meetings both at the start of the week, and also towards the end. I set clear meeting objectives each time we met, and I held each person accountable for their specific roles. By spending time with each team member twice a week, I was eventually able to establish full control of the team and ensure that we were all working towards my own agenda. I feel I have the correct qualities, and leadership attributes to the led the most difficult of teams and would never shy away from a difficult leadership challenge whenever it presented itself.

Q10. Have you ever been in a situation when you disagreed with a colleague om how to achieve a task?

Sample Answer:
In a previous role I was attending a meeting with other departmental leaders and managers. A more experienced colleague was putting forward his plan for a new way of working that was designed to help the organization increase business leads through paid-for advertising. After listening to his ideas, I disagreed with one particular element because I felt the potential cost of each lead obtained would not seek a sufficient return on the investment for our organization. I suggested we should trial his idea with a tight budget first of all to assess the return on investment. Once the meeting was over, he came up to me and complained that I had been trying to put a dampener of his plans. I explained to him that I felt his plan was excellent, but that It is important we disagreed in a professional manner if we feel there is a better way of doing things for our organization. I offered to work with him on his plan to seek ways to ensure the return on investment was beneficial to the company, to which he agreed to. If I ever have a disagreement with a colleague I will always maintain professionalism and put forward my argument with facts and evidence where possible.

Q11. Tell me about a time when you had to make a really difficult decision at work?

Sample Answer:
I was tasked with managing a team for my previous employer and it quickly became apparent to me that a long standing employee was no longer effective in his role. After carefully analysing the team, I felt his

presence within the team was hindering our performance and I needed to make a difficult decision to replace him. This was a tough decision simply because he was very popular amongst the other team members, but I knew the only way I could move the team forward in the direction I needed was to move him to a different department where I felt his skills would be put to better use. After obtaining approval from the senior management team for the move, I held a meeting with the employee and explained to him the reasons behind the move. He was clearly upset and disappointed and made it clear that he felt I was making a big mistake. I stood by my decision and he moved departments the following week.
Initially, the team were upset about my decision and it took me a few weeks to motivate them and win their support. However, I persevered and 6 months on, the team was performing to peak ability and it quickly became the most productive team within the organization. I am not afraid to make difficult decisions when needed and will never shy away from confrontation or challenges within this leadership role.

Q12. Talk me through how you would resolve conflict within a team?

Sample Answer:
Whilst working within a team there were two work colleagues who clearly did not like each other. Their dislike for each other was, in my opinion, starting to have a negative impact on team performance, and so I decided to step in and resolve the conflict for the sake of the organization. I asked both of them to meet me in private one afternoon and I explained to them in a confident manner that I had serious concerns about their constant bickering and apparent dislike for each other. I gave them both two specific examples where I felt their actions were having a negative impact on the team’s performance, and if they didn’t take responsibility for resolving it quickly, I would talk to my manager about the issues. I then suggested a way forward that involved them both speaking openly and honestly about how they both felt and stated I would mediate the meeting to help seek a resolution. We agreed to hold the meeting there and then, and after an few initial uncomfortable moments and discussions, they eventually both agreed to put their differences behind them and move forward in a harmonious manner for the benefit of the team. Finally, I suggested to them they should seek to work together on a project in order to build up a rapport and strong working relationship, to which they both agreed to. Six months later, you would not have been able to tell they previously had issues and they worked very well together on various company projects and tasks.

Q13. Talk me through a situation when you had to use effective communication or negotiation techniques to achieve an objective?

Sample Answer:

Whilst managing a previous team, I found myself in a position where our company website went down late on a Friday afternoon. The following day we were due to launch a new product to our large database and the website had to be back up in time for the following morning. I contacted a local web development company and they initially stated they were unable to help as it was so late in the afternoon and everyone was due to go home for the weekend. It was at this stage I had to use strong persuasion and negotiation skills to get what I needed. I explained to them that our IT contract with an external provider was coming to an end in 3 months’ time, and that we were on the lookout for a new, local organization to manage our IT systems. I explained that we had experienced similar issues to the one we were experiencing there and then, and that we no longer had faith in the company who took responsibility for our website. I suggested to them that this was an opportunity for them to prove what they could do and that, if they agreed to help us out in our hour of need, I would suggest to my Managing Director that we seriously consider using their services if the costs are within our budget. At that stage, they agreed to stay behind to help out the organization and by 10pm that evening, the issue was resolved and the website back up and running. I feel I am a determined and resolute negotiator and will not stop until I get the result I need for my employer.

Q14. What’s your biggest weakness?

Sample Answer:
My biggest weakness has to be the fact that I see my work as the most important aspect of my life. In the past, I have sometimes found it difficult to strike a healthy work-life balance, and the hours I have put into managing and completing projects has been, some might say, excessive. However, whilst I am still very passionate about my work and I still work very long hours, I feel I am becoming a smarter manager and I have become a highly effective delegator who has the ability to identify those within a team who have the most appropriate strengths to help me achieve my team’s and my organizations objectives.

Q15. Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

Sample Answer:
In five years’ time, I see myself progressing within the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) organization to the point where not only am not only well-respected and competent in this role, but I’ve also taken on further responsibilities. I believe that, in five years’ time, I will have proven myself as an invaluable member of the UN team. I would also take great pleasure in assisting the training and development of newer colleagues who occupy a similar role within the team if required.

Q16. Why do you want to leave your current job to join the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)?

Sample Answer:
For the simple reason I am now ready for a new challenge where my abilities and leadership skills are put to good use. My employer has been amazing, and I will be leaving on fantastic terms with some great memories and also having built up some extremely useful contacts, but I now want to work for the UN within this position. As soon as I saw the job advertised, I knew it was a position I wanted to apply for!

Q17. That’s the end of your United Nations interview. Do you have any questions you would like to ask the panel?

Sample Answer:
Q1. What are the strategic aims of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) over the next 3-5 years and how could I help you in this role to achieve them?
Q2. What would be the priority tasks and projects you need me to focus on within the first few weeks or starting work for the UN?
Q3. Has anything frustrated you about people who have worked in this UN role previously?

How to Use These Interview Questions and Answers:
These interview questions and answers are intended to guide you in your preparation for your job interview. These questions have been picked by the CareerJobsInternational team because we believe that they are the best representative of what you will face in your interview.

The sample answers in this resource are collated from years of experience and research in the recruitment sector. The answers confidently display the appropriate qualities and competencies that the interviewer expects from successful candidates.

Read the sample answers carefully, and take note of what skills and competencies they demonstrate. You might notice that, when the question asks for examples, the answer uses the STAR method to construct the response:

Situation. Start off your response to the interview question by explaining what the ‘situation’ was and who was involved.
Task. Once you have detailed the situation, explain what the ‘task’ was, or what needed to be done.

Action. Now explain what ‘action’ you took, and what action others took. Also explain why you took this particular course of action.
Result. Explain to the panel what you would do differently if the same situation arose again. It is good to be reflective at the end of your responses. This demonstrates a level of maturity and it will also show the panel that you are willing to learn from every experience.

In order to get the best possible results, apply this system to your own examples and experiences in working life. These sample answers are intended to inspire you to create your own responses to the questions.

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