Landing Your Dream UN Internship: Mastering the Interview Questions

Are you aspiring to gain invaluable experience and contribute to the global efforts of the United Nations? An internship at this esteemed organization can be a life-changing opportunity, but first, you must navigate the interview process successfully. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll equip you with the knowledge and strategies to tackle the most common UN internship interview questions with confidence.

Understanding the UN Internship Interview Process

The United Nations receives an overwhelming number of applications for its internship programs each year. To stand out from the crowd, you must demonstrate a deep understanding of the organization’s mission, values, and your potential role within it. The interview process is designed to assess your qualifications, critical thinking abilities, and cultural sensitivity.

Common UN Internship Interview Questions and Strategies

  1. Tell us about yourself and why you are interested in interning with the United Nations.

    • This is your opportunity to showcase your passion, relevant experiences, and alignment with the UN’s principles.
    • Highlight your academic background, extracurricular activities, and any volunteer or work experiences that have prepared you for this role.
    • Express your genuine interest in contributing to the UN’s efforts and how an internship aligns with your long-term goals.
  2. What do you know about the United Nations and its work?

    • Demonstrate your knowledge of the UN’s history, structure, and key areas of focus, such as peace and security, human rights, and sustainable development.
    • Research the specific department or agency you are applying to intern with and discuss their mandate and initiatives.
    • Highlight any relevant courses, seminars, or independent research you have undertaken related to the UN’s work.
  3. Describe a situation where you had to work in a diverse team. How did you handle cultural differences?

    • The UN values cultural sensitivity and the ability to collaborate effectively with people from diverse backgrounds.
    • Share a specific example where you navigated cultural differences within a team setting, highlighting your communication skills, open-mindedness, and respect for different perspectives.
    • Discuss how you adapted your approach to foster understanding and achieve common goals.
  4. How would you contribute to the United Nations’ efforts in promoting [specific area of focus, e.g., sustainable development, human rights, etc.]?

    • Research the UN’s current initiatives and challenges in the specified area of focus.
    • Propose innovative ideas or approaches that align with the UN’s principles and goals.
    • Highlight relevant skills, knowledge, or experiences that would enable you to make a meaningful contribution.
  5. Describe a time when you faced a challenging situation and how you overcame it.

    • The UN internship program often involves handling complex tasks and navigating challenging environments.
    • Share a specific example that demonstrates your problem-solving skills, adaptability, and resilience.
    • Explain the steps you took to analyze the situation, explore solutions, and ultimately overcome the challenge.
  6. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

    • Highlight strengths that are relevant to the internship role, such as strong research and analytical skills, excellent communication abilities, or proficiency in multiple languages.
    • Discuss a weakness that you have actively worked to improve, demonstrating self-awareness and a growth mindset.
    • Frame your weaknesses in a positive light by explaining how you have developed strategies to overcome them.
  7. Why should we choose you over other qualified candidates?

    • Emphasize your unique combination of skills, experiences, and passion that make you an ideal fit for the internship.
    • Highlight any specialized knowledge, language proficiency, or relevant coursework that sets you apart.
    • Discuss your commitment to the UN’s principles and your eagerness to learn and contribute to the organization’s mission.

Remember, the interview is a two-way conversation. Feel free to ask thoughtful questions about the internship program, the specific role, and the interviewer’s experiences within the UN. This will demonstrate your genuine interest and help you assess if the internship aligns with your goals and aspirations.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for a UN internship interview requires dedication, research, and practice. Familiarize yourself with the organization’s structure, initiatives, and values. Reflect on your experiences and how they have equipped you with the necessary skills and mindset to excel in this role. Most importantly, convey your passion for the UN’s mission and your commitment to making a positive impact on a global scale.

With thorough preparation, confidence, and a genuine desire to contribute, you can increase your chances of landing your dream UN internship and embarking on a rewarding journey towards shaping a better world.

My UN internship interview experiences


How do I prepare for a UN interview?

In an interview, you should be prepared to talk about yourself. For this purpose, you would be advised to develop a 90-second introduction, outlining your education, background, experience, current situation, and career aspirations. Your 90-second introduction should be flexible, customized, and responsive.

Is it hard to get into UN internship?

How many applications are received and how many interns get accepted each session? I’m told there is over 3,000 applications for each session of which around 250 are accepted at different stages of each session. So success rate is below 10%.

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