The majority of selection processes seek specific competencies that are considered important in future employees. These processes are known as competency-based recruitment. In the specific case of the United Nations YPP, the selection process usually looks for three fundamental competencies in candidates: Professionalism, Teamwork, and Planning & Organizing. These will be tested all throughout the selection process and you should pay special attention to them when writing your cover letter and being interviewed.
But what are “competencies”? What is competency-based recruitment? How can the competencies desired by the United Nations YPP be understood? Can competencies be developed? A candidate must know how to answer these questions, in order to be successful in the selection process.
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Competencies: what are those?
The term “competency” can be understood in various ways. However, we offer a more widespread understanding of “competency”, which has guided the recruitment of people at intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations. This concept established competency as a set of four elements, known by the acronym KSAV: Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes and Values.
- Knowledge: Know-how. This refers to the set of theoretical and technical skills which an individual can consciously access in order to carry out activities. This knowledge may be learned through courses, specializations, training and capacity-building, etc.
- Skills: Knowing how to do something. This is the practical and productive application of knowledge. It results from practice, making mistakes, training, and application, etc.
- Attitudes: Wanting to do. Attitude means being able to employ knowledge and skills (called technical competencies) in order to achieve established goals. These are behavioral competencies that drive an individual to want to perform, overcome challenges, and innovate.
- Values: These are the fundamental principles that orientate how an individual behaves. These principles influence a person’s decision-making and professional results. For this reason, an organization seeks people who have values consistent with their own.
To summarize, competency is understood as the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values which condition behaviors that have an influence on the efficient completion of tasks required for a specific position.
UN YPP Competencies
Preparing for a competency-based selection process firstly requires understanding how the organization perceives “competencies” and “values”: what definitions are given to these terms, and which ones are adopted by the organizational culture.
For the United Nations, values and competencies are described in the following way:
- Values: “Shared principles and beliefs that underpin the organization’s work and guide actions and behaviors of staff”
- Competencies: “Skills, attributes, and behaviors directly related to successful job performance”.
The United Nations YPP follows this recruitment model and seeks specific competencies in Young Professional Programme candidates which are described in the job opening.
Let’s take a look at some positive and negative indicators of the most common competencies the UN YPP seeks in candidates:
It is fundamental to ascertain the profile desired by the United Nations YPP in order to be better prepared for the selection process. A candidate should make clear which of these competencies they possess throughout the whole UN YPP selection process. Some people may decide not to apply for a vacancy, believing that they do not have the competencies the organization desires. However, the majority of studies indicate that competencies can be developed.
The idea of learning and/or developing competencies grew after concepts of competency, such as KSAV, were established, since these elements can be developed. Therefore, learning competencies can be understood as the process through which an individual changes their behavior in specific situations by acquiring new knowledge. Among the various forms of competency development are the following: reading; listening and observation; courses and training; practical experiences; and mentoring and coaching programs.
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