News about internationalisation


Photo: Anna Martela

Hidden international expertise and the United Nations

International working life needs enquiring, productive and resilient young experts but even they themselves may struggle demonstrating the positive qualities they possess. “Practice makes perfect”, says Barbara Køgs Andersen, HR Associate from the United Nations Development Programme, in an interactive workshop organised by CIMO.

Experts from Demos Helsinki, the United Nations Development Programme and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland attracted about 60 persons interested in an international career to discuss international expertise and the core competencies of the United Nations. The participants also had a chance to practise for a competency-based interview in this interactive workshop organised by CIMO.

According to a recent report co-produced by CIMO & Demos Helsinki, there is a clear demand for an extended understanding of international competencies: new international experts are not only culturally sensitive and fluent in languages but also productive, resilient and curious of global phenomena on a large scale. “These are also the attributes essential for employers facing the challenges of the ever globalising working life”, as Juha Leppänen from Demos Helsinki noted in his presentation.

The three common attributes of international experts identified by Demos Helsinki match the key competencies of the United Nations: “When recruiting, we especially seek after effectiveness and self-management as well as respect for diversity and innovativeness as some of the main indicators for excellent performance on the job”, Barbara Køgs Andersen confirmed.

Past behaviour is the best indicator of future performance

In a competency-based interview, applied widely within the UN system, the candidates are asked questions about their past experience to assess whether they are competent for the job at hand. “The theory is that if you can demonstrate that you have done it in the past or have learned from the past, chances are that you will be able to do it in the future as well”, Køgs Andersen sums it up.

Køgs Andersen argues that there is no shortcut to excelling in a competency-based interview: “Study the job description of the position you are applying for, understand the organisation and identify your competencies, really think of examples of your own past accomplishments – in advance.”

Moreover, she urged the participants to focus on how to explain the accomplishment in a structured manner, using clear conventional language. “You really need to spell it out: what was the situation or task at hand, what actions did you take and what was the outcome.”

“You need to do your homework”, Køgs Andersen says. “The more prepared you are, the more you practise before the interview, the better you will present yourself in the interview – and the better the chance of getting the job of your dreams.”

Further information

UN competency-based interview

(Vilja Liikanen, November 2013)

European Commission news about culture, education and youth