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Division of Human Resources Career Development Section



Table of Contents

Section 1: Introduction

Section 2: Core Interviewing Skills


Section 3: Competencies And Their Use


Section 4: The Competency Based Interview Technique


Section 5: Rating The Candidate


Section 6: Sample Interview Questions and Protocol




The Purpose of the Guide
The Guide has been designed to assist those responsible for conducting employment interviews and making decisions about the suitability of applicants to UNICEF. It seeks to explain and clarify some of the best ways to enhance the quality of information gathered during interviews and therefore increase the fairness and effectiveness of the selection process.

The role of the interview in the selection process

Within the overall process of recruitment and selection, the interview is typically an important component of the assessment procedure. Globally, over 95% of large organizations use interviews as a major part of the assessment procedure, and often selection decisions are based entirely on the interviews. An interview gives you the chance to gather information that is not readily available through other means. It reveals information about the persons experience and also provides you with the chance to observe their communication skills first hand. The information gathered through the interview process as well as from other selection methods that may have been used, plays a vital role in the decision-making process at selection time. Considering the importance of selection decisions, and the great financial and other costs to the organisation if the wrong decision is made, it is essential that the interviewer be confident that the assessments made in selection interviews are as accurate, reliable and objective as possible. Experts have estimated that the cost of a poor selection can be around three times the incumbents annual salary.



Key Steps to Improving the Interview
Despite the extensive use of the interview as a selection tool, evidence suggests that it can be a poor predictor of future job performance. Here are a number of steps that can be taken to improve its effectiveness: 1. The Interview Should Be Properly Structured Adhering to a set structure is probably the single most important technique to improve the reliability of the selection process. Structure helps focus the discussion and ensures that candidates are assessed against the same criteria. It also enables us to gather information that is based on actual evidence rather than on assumptions based on stereotypes; with such an approach, the assessment of each candidates potential strengths and weaknesses starts on equal footing. In addition, having a structure makes it easier for the interviewer to monitor the progress of the interview, thereby ensuring that the discussions remain job-related. Moreover, adherence to a framework exposes possible gaps in the information collected. 2. Focus On Obtaining Evidence of the Candidates Past Behaviour Decisions must be made based on evidence, rather than on the opinions of the interviewer. The latter should avoid basing selection decisions on unsubstantiated opinions, speculation, or stereotypes. The most effective interviewing style is one that explores the candidates past behaviour. Past behaviour is one of the best predictors of future behaviour and the core of competency based interviewing. 3. Interviewers Should Take Notes It is difficult for the interviewer to accurately remember everything an interviewee said during the course of the interview. If the interviewer relies solely on his or her memory, important points may either be forgotten or distorted and systematic bias such as attribution or stereotyping may influence the subsequent recall of information. Note taking during the interview is strongly recommended; having someone other than the interviewer take notes is suggested. 4. Interviews Should Be Supported By Other Assessment Techniques It is recommended that information collected from the interviewee be supplemented with other assessment techniques such as ability tests or assessment centres, which can provide objective and reliable evidence about the suitability of the candidate for the job. The use of multiple assessment techniques can improve the validity of selection procedures because it enables a candidates skills to be evaluated across a range of different situations (e.g. role plays or group interactions etc). This facilitates the identification of areas of consensus and dissentience, thus providing an evaluation of a candidates suitability from various viewpoints. 5. More Than One Interviewer Involved In The Selection Process Ideally more than one interviewer should be involved in the selection process, especially if no other techniques of assessment are used. Since different interviewers will not possess the same biases and prejudices, a discussion with all the interviewers should take place after the interview.





The following steps will assist in preparation for an interview. Awareness of Selection Process What criteria were used to shortlist these applicants? Is this the candidates first or second interview? If it is the second interview, who conducted the previous one? (Ensure you have a copy of that interviewers notes). What will be the next stage in the selection process? How quickly will you be able to contact the candidate again? Timetable If a number of candidates are to be seen on one day, a timetable should be prepared in advance. It should allow a realistic amount of time for each interview and provide the interviewer with ample time to write the post-interview notes. Reception of Candidates Arrangements must be made to receive the candidates: - It is important that the Reception or security staff be provided with pertinent information on the candidates so that they can be direct them to the interview area; - A waiting area should be prepared and any travel expenses should be paid upon the candidates arrival. Room The interviewer needs to ensure there will be no disturbances in the interviewing room; Prior to the interview the room should be checked to ensure that it is tidy, that there are sufficient chairs and the layout of the furniture is appropriate for the interview. Information for the Candidate Make sure that information that will be presented to the candidate during the interview (e.g. information about the Organisation or department or the job, details about benefits, conditions of employment, ) is prepared in advance. Job Description and Selection Criteria/Competencies A written job description should be available for any job that is being filled. Ideally this should be made available to the candidates prior to the


interview; Prior to the interview, the interviewers should meet to identify the functional competencies they will be focusing on. It is suggested that they isolate 3 functional competencies from the competency profiles which are most critical for the post. The decision should be made in collaboration with the incumbents future manager, taking into consideration the positions critical incidents or commonly occurring situations that the incumbent will confront and must be able to master to be considered a good performer. The job description, supplemented by the current and future needs of the post should also be taking into account when selecting the critically important competencies; Interviewers must be provided with the interview protocol of the post the candidates are applying for;

Review the Application Form or CV Interviewers should read the application forms or curriculum vitae prior to the interview; Interviewers should ensure that all pertinent information has been provided by the candidate; Taking into consideration the selection criteria and the critical competencies that were selected in the previous step, the interviewer should make a note of any experiences which are particularly relevant to the job so that they may be probed further during the interview. Other Interviewers If a panel interview is scheduled, the interviewers should decide (before the interview) on a specific format and on who will cover which competencies. Questions It is important to select questions that will explore various aspects of each competency being assessed; The application form or interview protocol will suggest areas the interviewer should cover



Selection of Interview Questions
Open Questions These are questions which require the interviewee to respond with a statement and to provide more information than a simple one word answer such as yes or no. Open questions such as tell me about ... should be used to start off a new topic or subject. Probing Questions These sorts of questions are designed to search for information in greater depth. They are vital for detail and for focusing the candidate and interview on particular areas. Usually they will be open in format, but aimed at eliciting specific information. Probing questions are designed to explore areas of interest. Probing questions should be used to encourage the candidate to talk more about a specific aspect of their experience or knowledge. These can be used to further explore information or situations described by the candidate or to clarify a particular issue Comparative Questions These encourage the interviewee to identify key differences in their experiences, duties, style of work, situations, etc. Examples of comparative questions are: - What would you say was the biggest difference between the jobs with X and Y? - How do the responsibilities in your current job compare to those in your previous position? Hypothetical Questions These questions encourage a candidate to describe what they would do if faced with a particular situation. For example, a hypothetical question might be: How would you manage a poor performing staff member? These types of questions explore the candidates knowledge but not their past behaviour. Often a candidate will give you a superficial answer of what they know to be right. It is better to find out what they actually did; a better question would be: How did you manage a poor performing staff member?



Questions to Avoid
Closed Questions A closed question is one that can be answered with very few words. Overall, questions that begin with who?, what?, which?, when? or where? should be avoided. Other examples might be: Do you think it is very important to be firm with a team? or Did you complete your degree? These types of questions should be used only when an interviewer needs to check a fact or confirm a detail. Leading Questions Leading questions give the candidate the answer to the question being asked. An example might be We think teamwork is very important. What do you think about teamwork? Most candidates will simply agree with the interviewer. Double Questions These occur when the interviewer asks two questions in the same sentence. These questions can be confusing to the candidate. An example of a double question is I am keen to hear about your experience in planning and about the last time you needed to empower a team member



Non-Verbal Behaviour of Interviewers
Positioning: A distance of one to one and a half metres between the interviewer and the candidate is adequate. A distance of less than one metre may create discomfort, while more than five feet becomes overly formal. Posture: The interviewers body should be orientated directly towards the candidate. The interviewer should sit up and slightly lean forward to show interest in what the candidate is saying. Eye Contact Eye contact should demonstrate interest. Interviewers who do not look sufficiently at the candidate will find it harder to control and regulate the interview. Facial Expression: Facial expression should indicate interest in what the candidate is saying. The interviewer should ensure her/his expression conveys interest and should avoid expressing boredom, irritation or disbelief. Head Movements: Head nodding and shaking can convey interest. Gestures: The interviewer should come across as calm and confident but excessive gesturing can undermine the latter. Hands can be used to give a greater emphasis to interviewers questions and to control or encourage the flow of information from the candidate; but clenched hands and entwined legs can communicate nervousness. Voice Production: Nervousness and under-confidence in the interviewer can be conveyed by talking too quickly or too slowly. The interviewer should project calmness by speaking in a steady but energetic pace. Monotonous speech should be avoided as it may convey disinterest.



Verbal Behaviour of Interviewers
Verbal signs of attention are: Simple responses such as mm, yes, fine, I see, can be especially useful when the interviewee is recounting a lengthy experience Restating or summarising indicates that the interviewer is intent on getting an accurate picture of what the candidate is saying Perceptive probing and the use of follow-up questions tend to reinforce the interviewers interest.





What is a Competency?
Competencies are the combination of knowledge, skills, traits and attributes that collectively enable a person to perform successfully in a given job. The UNICEF competencies identify and describe the competencies and associated behaviors required for effective performance in UNICEF. For a full review of the competencies and their use, please see the Getting Results for Children document on the Learning Web. The UNICEF Competencies and Competency Profiles consist of (1) Foundational Competencies, (2) Functional Competencies, and (3) Technical Competencies. 1. FOUNDATIONAL COMPETENCIES (applicable to all staff across all functional areas and levels) There are six Foundational Competencies. These Foundational Competencies emerged as always important across every functional area and level, and therefore, apply to all UNICEF staff. They embody UNICEFs ideals. These six Foundational Competencies are: Commitment Drive for Results Embracing Diversity Integrity Self-awareness and Self-regulation Teamwork

2. FUNCTIONAL COMPETENCIES (depending on the functional area/level) There are eighteen Functional Competencies out of which a different combination of competencies is applied to each functional area and level. 28 Analytical and Conceptual Thinking Leading Vision and Change Building Trust Managing Resources Coaching Managing Stress Communication Networking Decisiveness Setting Standards, and Monitoring Work Planning


Flexibility Strategic and Global Thinking Group Facilitation Tact Influence Team Leadership Judgment Knowledge/ Leadership ( Technical (please see below, 3. TECHNICAL COMPETENCIES.)

3. TECHNICAL COMPETENCIES (Technical knowledge/ Technical leadership; divided into two groups) Technical Competencies are: Common Technical Requirements (applicable to all functional areas): Professional work experience Must Acquire Language; and Function-Specific Technical Requirements (applicable to relevant functional areas only): Academic Qualification and Training Specialized Expertise Must Acquire

What is a Competency profile and what is its function in the interview process?
A competency profile identifies and describes the competencies critical for successful performance in a job, within a specific functional area and at a specific level. Each competency in the profile is defined and accompanied by statements of behaviour which describe standards of performance to which the incumbent should aspire. In the recruitment, selection and placement process, the competency profile along with the job description are used to identify the selection criteria for the post. The interviewer(s) should (typically) assess the foundational competencies and additional 3 to 5 competencies that are deemed most critical for success in the post under recruitment and that best reflect the key aspects of the role. The choice of competencies should stem from the interviewers knowledge of the position and from the critical incident and commonly occurring situations the future incumbent will face. A competency typically takes around 15 minutes to explore fully; therefore the exploration of four competencies will take approximately one hour. During the course of a structured interview, candidates should be assessed against these competencies. The comparative assessment of candidates against competencies enables the organisation to determine the strengths and weaknesses of various candidates and their potential to develop.




The competency-based interview is built on the premise that "past behaviour is the best predictor of future performance". It is therefore essential to gather as much behavioural evidence during the interview as possible in order to arrive at an objective assessment of the candidate's ability to do the job in question.

Structuring the Exploration of a Competency

The most effective way of gathering specific behavioural evidence is to use a particular style of questioning and probing called the OPEN BACK technique. The technique can be compared to a funnelling process where the aim is to move from broad ranging questions about an individuals experience to more specific evidence of how that individual behaves.

OPEN refers to the need to open up the discussion in order to understand the breadth of experience a candidate has had in relation to a competency area. BACK refers to the gathering of specific evidence of the individual behaviour in those situations. Remember that it is an understanding of an individuals past behaviour that helps us to predict their future behaviour and therefore their likely performance within UNICEF.



The OPEN BACK Technique

OPportunities ExperieNce

- establishing the opportunities an individual has had to demonstrate a particular competency - identifying specific experiences an individual has had which necessitated the use of a particular competency

Behavioural description Appraisal Comparison Knowledge

- seeking specific evidence of how an individual has behaved in past, relevant situations - highlighting any feedback a candidate has had on their performance in a competency area - comparing an individuals skills and performance over time - understanding an individuals awareness of best practice or their knowledge of a particular subject. These questions can be particularly useful if a candidate does not have much experience



Taking each competency in turn, the first step is to ask about OPportunities and ExperieNce. OPEN it up Find out what opportunities the candidate has had to exhibit behaviour related to this competency. Encourage him/her to identify past/present experiences which relate to the competency under consideration. For example, for the competency of Judgement: What opportunity have you had to demonstrate your judgement when making decisions? or What experience have you had in weighing up relevant facts? Ask the interviewee to recall and describe a specific example of judgement. Describe how you went about using your judgement when determining the best outcome for your team? Tell me about a time when. Describe a specific situation when.. Having OPENed up the competency area, you now BACK it up with further questions about their behaviour. Examples can come from work, education or from leisure activities. You should aim to get a balance of positive and negative examples.



BACK it up Behavioural Description Exploring the candidates behaviour can be achieved using a range of questions about their strengths and limitations, satisfactions and dissatisfactions, likes and dislikes. For example: What did you do best in planning that conference? Why? What skills do you think you bring to planning? What did you enjoy most/least about planning the conference? What gave you most satisfaction/dissatisfaction? What did you find the most difficult part of planning the conference was? What did you do most/less well at? Remember to cover limitations as well as strengths. On reflection, what could you have improved upon when planning that event? Appraisal Ask the interviewee to report on feedback they have received from others regarding that competency. The purpose of this exercise is to assess the candidates level of performance. For example: What feedback did you get regarding the event you planned? How have your organisational skills been appraised in the last year?



Comparison Another approach to benchmark the candidates level and identify her/his skills is to ask them to compare their behaviour over time. For example: In relation to the planning you did for that event, how do you think your current planning skills compare to when you were working as project officer in Malawi". Why? What makes you say that? Knowledge and Attitudes Finally, it may be relevant to probe for the candidates preferred behaviours and assess her/his awareness of best practices in order to further explore the competency being assessed. For example: Now that youve had experience of planning a conference, what advice would you give someone planning a similar event? or What do you see to be the key stages in planning and scheduling a project?



Follow up Questions
Listed below are some further hints on how to ask additional questions: The interviewer should pursue questioning the candidate until a competency is properly assessed Candidates will often skim over an important area. The interviewer should be prepared to ask probing questions that clarify ambiguous information. Find out the "why" behind actions Do not assume motives. Interviewers must be careful not to project their values on candidates. It is very easy for a highly motivated interviewer to assume a candidate feels the same way. Ask for clarification If a candidate uses jargon or an acronym that is unfamiliar to the interviewer, s/he should ask for an explanation or a definition of the term Avoid collecting information that is not relevant to the specific competency If the competency that is being assessed is a candidates ability to plan and organise a conference, the interviewer should not probe into irrelevant details, for instance the topic of the last conference the candidate organised Do not talk too much Allow the candidate to do most of the talking. A good interviewer controls, but does not monopolise the conversation (the interviewer should speak about 30% of the time and the interviewee about 70%).



Taking Notes
The interviewer must take notes during and immediately after the interview. It is important to take notes on everything the candidate says and does. The interviewer should record as much verbatim information as possible. Interviewers should avoid writing down their judgements as the interview is intended to be a data collection exercise. The evaluation and decision making should take place after the interview. Notes on certain aspects of behaviour such as verbal fluency or hesitancy, excessive nervousness, etc. should also be written down Some interviewers may find it helpful to mention that they will be taking notes at the beginning of the interview. Note taking should be done openly but not in such a way that the candidate can see what is being recorded.




Rating the Candidate

During the interview, the interviewer should have noted examples of situations, behaviours and outcomes for each of the competencies being assessed. S/he should have also noted any additional pertinent information that could support a candidates suitability for the post. Once the interview has concluded, the information collected must be classified, rated and evaluated using the Interview Protocol. In order to provide additional structure to the assessment component of the interview, the following approach should be adopted:

Classifying the Interview Notes

First, decide which competency the behaviour illustrates. It may be the case that some behaviours can be assigned to more than one competency; discretion should used as it is better to allocate the behaviour to one competency rather than to two or more. Second, identify whether the behaviour documented in your interview notes positively or negatively illustrates that competency by assigning a + or - sign next to your comments.

Interview record Planning & Organising I led the team in developing the plan, + Set objectives and time lines, thought through the possible problems, + Ensured that project plan would not hinder the implementation of the office work plan, + Kept the supervisor informed at every step, + Decided not to adapt the plan, too much effort had been invested in getting it right, These comments in response to a question about Planning & Organising may be more relevant to another competency.



Evaluating the Evidence and Assigning a Rating
Finally, the interviewer must assess the significance of each behavioural example recorded during the interview process. This is done by referring to the positive and negative indicators for the competency (they appear alongside the competencys definition in the competency profiles). The following rating scale should be used: WD well developed D developed OD opportunity for development NE - no evidence obtained The NE rating should also be used in the event that the amount of evidence gathered during the interview was not sufficient enough to enable the interviewer to confidently make an assessment. If this occurs because the interviewer failed to probe a competency sufficiently, that fact should be noted The following is available to assist the interviewer in the evaluating process: Competency profiles for each functional area; Interview protocols that can be used to assess the candidates during the interview; A candidates comparison matrix that should be used to summarize and compared the distinct competencies of the candidates.



Sources of Error When Evaluating and Rating Candidates

When evaluating candidates remember to: Look for more than one piece of evidence Look for trends and supporting evidence Attempt to understand conflicting evidence

When using the rating scale remember that the following factors can distort assessments: Halo effect this is the tendency to rate candidates highly on one criterion because they have impressed on other criteria; Central tendency - tendency to give candidates a middle rating rather than using the E or D rating which clearly indicate that the candidate strongly demonstrated the competency or did not demonstrate it at all; Response bias - a tendency to under or over rate; Logical error - not making a clear distinction between two competencies; Contrast effect - rating one candidate against another instead of against the competency.





A complete list of competencies, their definitions and behavioural indicators, as well as the functional specific competency profiles can be found on the Learning Web, under the Personal X Professional Development Portal. Below are some sample interview questions for illustration purposes and a sample interview protocol.

Sets clear and realistic objectives for work plans and programmes. Monitors performance against objectives.

9 Positives Indicators
Converts goals and strategies into measurable project activities. Foresees and anticipates future resource needs. Monitors the work of team members in respect to end results, to ensure that they are meeting objectives and quality standards in a timely manner. Identifies areas of potential risk in the project plan and takes preventative measures. Effectively manages the grey areas where no clear mandate exists. Use a systematic approach for monitoring project activities, results, expenditures, and timelines. Creates and implements customised review or quality control processes. Maximises the resources available to him or her to most effectively complete the task or project. Immediately takes corrective action or damage control in the event a project slips from schedule.

x Negative indicators
Does not develop clear and concise action plans. Has no sense of urgency to monitor progress; is unsure of status of the project at any given time. Unevenly distributes the workload. Does not utilise all available planning tools or resources. Involves more resources (people monetary, etc.) than necessary. Organises project plans at the last minute. Contingency planning is not utilised. Misses deadlines with serious consequences. Can only manage projects when there is face-toface contact; unable to successfully delegate that aspect to others. Allows ambiguity over deliverables. Takes on impossible workloads. Fails to monitor progress.




Describe a time when you had to plan a significant project:

What did you do? How much time did you have? What factors did you need to consider? What could you have done better to assist in the smooth implementation of the project? How would you rate the effectiveness of your planning on this occasion? How does your approach to planning and standard setting differ from that of other managers? What are the advantages and disadvantages of your approach?

Can you tell me about a time when you missed a deadline?

Why did it happen? How were you responsible for this? What did you do to try an overcome this problem? What have you have done differently in relation to deadlines since this occasion?



Strategic and Global Thinking
Takes a long-term view of wide-ranging possibilities in developing a vision for the future. Assesses situations and makes decisions that take into consideration global trends and implications and how they reflect on the organization.

9 Positive Indicators
Sees the big picture or long-term implications of actions. Analyzes complex data and trends regarding local and world events and then uses this information to outline courses of action to accomplish objectives. Conducts analyses that provide for the best strategizing and positioning of UNICEF as a global partner and relief organisation. Seeks ways to increase global exposure and leverage that knowledge for new opportunities and potential for the organisation. Establishes mechanisms to prioritize in an environment of limited resources and unlimited challenges related to the problems of women and children as well as the internal demands of UNICEF. Studies and researches relevant literature and information on international trends in business. Engages UNICEF personnel in both strategic and operational planning. Establishes a clear link between the work of each functional area and the overall organizations strategy and goals. Successfully balances conflicting demands from the organisational, global, and political levels. Reads relevant literature on international trends.

X Negative Indicators
Has difficulty positioning specific functional area objectives and initiatives from a global mindset. Lacks a clear understanding of the current political, social, and economic factors that affect the global community. Does not maximise or leverage available information or literature on global trends and events. Struggles to translate a strategic vision into clear manageable action plans. Short-term thinkers; becomes distracted by internal UNICEF goals and objectives and loses sight of the bigger picture. Lack general awareness of international issues. Makes decisions that do not effectively utilise UNICEFs resources or mission and mandate. Does not understand that there are many facets to consider when developing a strategy (i.e., political, external interest groups, internal UNICEF interests, etc.) Only considers local issues.




Please tell me about a time when you have needed to

construct and communicate a critically important plan: What was the specific situation? What approach did you take and whom did you involve? How did you communicate the plan? What feedback did you have in relation to its effectiveness? What could you have done differently to improve your effectiveness? consider a number of possible scenarios when planning? What factors did you consider? How did you select the correct course of action? How did you minimise the risk of getting it wrong? timely intervention in the face of an impending emergency? What prompted the decision and what did you do? In hindsight, what could you have done differently? How would you rate your effectiveness on that occasion? How did you approach differ from that your colleagues may have adopted?

Can you describe an occasion when you have needed to

Can you describe a time when you have needed to make a



Able to influence attitudes and opinions of others and gain agreement to proposals, plans and ideas. Skilful at negotiating.

9 Positives Indicators
Convinces others to see things in a different light and adopt new ways of thinking, acting or behaving. Recognises the sources and dynamics of power, and influence critical decision-makers. Has a tendency to turn a negative task or situation into a positive task or situation. Anticipates actions and objection. Understands the sources of influence and uses them to convince others. Uses compromise or negotiation skills to create a win-win situation while still achieving objectives. Knows when to employ subtle influences to build consensus and support. Formulates a realistic goal regarding what can be accomplished and wisely spends time and energy influencing others to reach that goal. Has the ability to overcome rejections and obstacles and make a positive impact. Uses creative and new approaches to convincing others. Gets buy-in and commitment from others. Gives others a sense of vision.

X Negative Indicators
Displays difficulty overcoming obstacles or resistance. Lacks basic influence and negotiation skills. Allows others unreasonable demands or expectations to go unaddressed. Is unable to convince others or make a positive impact on decisions. Uses threats or negative behaviour to get people to act. Targets energies and efforts on the inappropriatelevel of decision-maker. Becomes frustrated when faced with a situation that requires compromise. Does not understand how to properly influence others; does not accentuate the positives or whats in it for them. Rarely creates a win-win situation or achieve goal of persuading others. Does not appreciate the difficulties or constraints under which others are working. Actions and reactions focus solely on ones own interests. Fails to highlight critical issues. Does not push point of view. Fails to gain acceptance of ideas.




Tell me about a time when you have effectively negotiated an

outcome that allowed both parties to realise their goals: How did you do this? What factors did you need to consider? What feedback did you receive? How might your efforts on this occasion have differed from those of your colleagues? contacts to further the efforts of your organisation? How was this possible? What did you need to do in return? What do you do to build your networks?

Can you describe a time when you have been able to use your

Can you describe an occasion when you have not been able to

arrive at a mutually beneficial outcome? Why? What has been the impact of this? What might you have done differently to have achieved a better outcome?



Effectively presenting thoughts and ideas in a clear, concise, and readily understood manner. Listen to and acknowledges others perspectives and views.

9 Positive Indicators
Comes across as extremely articulate, clear, and easy to understand. Communicates sensitive information in an effective and respectful manner. Captures and retains the attention of the audience. Conveys confidence and professionalism through speech and written material. Appropriately adjusts the content and approach to best suit the audience being addressed. Communicates effectively with all levels within an organisation. Actively listens to others to understand their point of view. Reports situations to the appropriate individuals in a comprehensive and accurate manner. Precise and succinct in conveying ideas to others. Conclusions are clear.

X Negative Indicators
Fails to communicate thoughts and ideas in a clear or easy to understand manner. Has difficulty commanding the attention of the audience. Is either overly wordy or overly short. Communicates in a manner that is inappropriate for the target audience (i.e., too formal/informal, too technical, too blunt, etc.). Experiences difficulty communicating sensitive or negative information. Does not convey a high degree of professionalism or competence when communicating with others. Communication is all one-sided; does not focus on or acknowledge what others have to say. Communiqus are not addressed or relayed to the appropriate individuals. Unable to adapt communication style to suit different situations. Gets sidetracked from main theme. Monotonous delivery. Uses jargon inappropriately. Assumptions are presented as facts. Vague or unambiguous wording. Documents and presentations are poorly structured.




Could you please give a recent example of when you have

needed to explain something difficult to someone who does not have your knowledge or background: What information did you need to get across? What did you consider when constructing your message? How effective were your efforts? How did you measure this? have needed to complete. How did you organise the contents of it? What are the key differences between your writing style and that of your manager or colleagues? your ideas have not been fully understood by your intended audience. What was the situation? Why did they misinterpret your message? What could you have done differently if the situation arose again?

Tell me about a significant piece of written communication you

Please describe an instance when your efforts to communicate



Cooperates and works effectively with others in the pursuit of common goals

9 Positive Indicators
Effectively links the purposes and functioning of team(s) to UNICEFs mission, vision, purpose, goals and results. Deals effectively with conflicting perspectives. Clearly defines roles and responsibilities and expectations for individuals as well as the team, thereby creating win-win situations. Encourages and supports the ideas and effort of other team members and finds or creates ways to help the team perform more effectively. Motivates others to want to contribute to the team. Provides constructive and timely feedback to others within the team, both positive and negative. Views and responds to feedback as a learning process as opposed to an affront on ones selfesteem or personal competence. Acknowledges that the overall accomplishments of the team are greater than individual accomplishments. Identifies the potential gains for all parties. Ensures that work pressures are shared across team.

X Negative Indicators
Puts up walls or barriers and alienates ones self from the team. Conveys a sense of apathy or indifference and does little to help the team perform effectively. Possesses a severe distrust of team members, a lack of energy, and little motivation to do work with others, thereby creating a negative work environment. Is not open to, nor listens to the ideas of others. Puts his/her personal interest ahead of the team and does not extend a spirit of collaboration. Actions and behaviours precipitate decreased team morale. Does not provide nor ask for feedback; lives with discourse instead of taking initiative to address conflicts or provide negative feedback. Reacts slowly to help team members unless he or she is certain that he/she will get credit for it. Does not share information readily with the team; protects ones own territory and information. Avoids socialising with the team. Fails to get buy-in from the team. Stays aloof from the team. Blames others for problems. Takes a long time to integrate into the team.




Please tell me about a time when you have gone out of your
way to assist a member of your team: What prompted you to take action and what did you do? What was the outcome? How has that changed things between you? encourage a cooperative approach in your team: What did you say? How was this received? What has been the result of your efforts?

Give me a specific example of when you have tried to

Can you describe a time when you have disagreed with a

How does your team behaviour differ from that of other


decision made by the majority of your team? What was the situation and what prompted the disagreement? What did you say to voice your concerns? What happened in relation to this?



Makes effective, realistic and impactful decisions based on logical inferences, experiences, and the consideration of implications, alternatives, and consequences.

9 Positive Indicators
Makes logical and well thought out decisions. Makes decisions on the basis of logical inferences that are easy to understand. Considers possible implications and alternatives when making decisions and takes into account others perspectives before making a decision. Possesses the capability to make quality decisions even during highly stressful or ambiguous circumstances. Strategically weighs the consequences and severity of his/her options before making a decision. Does not make a decision based strictly on emotions or unclear facts. Shows good common sense as to when to tackle a problem independently and when to ask for help. Identify the issues, conduct research and gather relevant information and hypotheses potential solutions before making a decision. Finds solutions that have not been tried before. Can evaluate, foresee and anticipate the consequences of a problem. Identifies the risks involved.

X Performance Needs Improving

Rushes into making decisions before fully comprehending the situation. Does not consider the severity or magnitude of his or her decisions. Cannot separate emotion from the reality of the situation and allows emotions to cloud his or her judgement. Hesitates or fails to make decisions during times of urgency or high stress. Does not follow a logical stream or pattern of thinking in his or her decision-making. Does not clearly identify when it is appropriate to make decisions on his or her own and when it is important to get others involved. Seeks to blame others for poor judgement. Takes others advice without due reflection and consideration. Overlooks the simple solutions to problems. Fails to see the links between related issues. Takes a long time to analyse a problem. Accepts information at face value. Panics/reacts illogically.




Could you please describe a decision that you made recently

that you found challenging? What were the circumstances and the issues you needed to consider when making the decision? What has been the impact of this decision? What feedback have you received in relation to the choice that you made? decision that you later regretted? What lead to the need to make a hasty decision? How has this influenced your subsequent behaviour?

Can you think of a time when you were rushed into a quick How do you arrive at your decisions?

Could you describe an occasion when you have adopted this approach? What were the advantages of this style of decision making? What are some of the disadvantages of this style when compared with your colleagues style?



Analytical and Conceptual Thinking
Systematically investigating, studying, or otherwise breaking down a problem using logical reasoning and drawing accurate and appropriate conclusion.

9 Positive Indicators
Focuses on underlying causes as opposed to just the symptoms. Remains focused and do not become distracted by irrelevant or superfluous information. Conducts appropriate analyses and research from which to draw appropriate conclusions. Identifies the meaning of trends and interrelationships and makes appropriate predictions for projected advancements. Pinpoints the risks involved in a project at an early stage. Analyses highly technical or complex information that requires advanced technical training. Finds novel and creative solutions that have not been tried before. Asks the right questions and understands concepts quickly.

X Negative Indicators
Becomes overwhelmed or distracted when analysing information. Finds it challenging to make sense of new, complex information (e.g., many variables, quantitative and qualitative data, numerous if, then scenarios, many possible courses of action). Has a tendency to get bogged down in the details. Misunderstands or misinterprets the situation due to not focusing on the root of the problem. Relies too heavily on common sense or a gut feeling when interpreting complex information. Fails to identify the interrelationships between related issues. Overlooks or dismisses the simple solutions to problems Does not explicitly identify the risks or consequences associated with proposed solutions.


Describe a situation when you were able to identify linkages

between seemingly unrelated elements of a problem: What led you to identify the linkages? How did this help you in solving the problem? What are the aspects to which you could have paid more attention?

Tell me about a specific occasion when you have been able to

draw on your previous experience to solve a complex problem. What type of problem was it? How did your experience and knowledge assist? How effective was your approach in this instance? What feedback did you receive about your performance? existing skills were of little help to you in solving a problem. Why was this? How did this lack of experience influence your behaviour and approach to the problem? In hindsight, what should/could you have done differently?

Tell me about an occasion when your past experience and



Acting with uncompromising ethics and honesty at all times, in all situations, both professionally and personally

9 Positive Indicators
Communicates open and honestly with others Demonstrates trustworthy behaviour based on personal accountability and sounds ethics. Seeks out other course of action if pressure by influential personas to participate in less than ethical behaviour. Immediately addresses any situation in which a peer, staff member, etc. is acting in an untrustworthy or dishonest manner. Takes a clear stand on difficult issues and links all positive and ethical behaviour to UNICEFs mission for women and children. Models positive ethical behaviours; walk the talk. Tactfully confronts others, even those in supervisory positions, if their behaviour is less than ethical. Makes realistic promises and sticks to commitments. Keeps personal interests and agendas out of the decision-making process. Openly admits mistakes.

X Negative indicators
Deliberately hides or keeps important information from others. Looks the other way if one observes unethical behaviour. Demonstrates inconsistency among principles, values and behaviours. Struggles to take a clear stand on a difficult issue and loses sight of UNICEFs mission for improving the lives of women and children. May confront the unethical behaviour or practices of peers and subordinates, but would not confront a superior or influential persona demonstrating unethical behaviour. Demonstrates acceptable ethical behaviour but does not actively promote or encourage others to do the same. Chooses tasks or projects that increase ones own visibility and status. Does not retain ownership and responsibility when things go wrong; blames others. Focuses on short-term gain. Picks tasks which increase own visibility and status. Spends time on what interests him/her, rather than what needs to be done.




Tell me about the last time that you were faced with a
professional or ethical dilemma at work. What was the specific situation? How did you feel? How did you resolve the dilemma?

Sometimes our positions can help us get things done and

push through layers of bureaucracy. Can you think of a time when you have been able to do this? What prompted your approach? How effective was this? What were the disadvantages of adopting this approach? an unprofessional/unethical manner? What was unprofessional or unethical about their behaviour? What did you specifically do about their behaviour? What were the implications of taking action? How did you deal with the possible consequences? How likely are you to take action compared with your colleagues?

In your experience, have you ever observed others working in



Self-Awareness & SelfRegulation
Knowing and managing ones own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, passions, interests, and values.

9 Positive Indicators
Focuses on personal improvement and looks for opportunities to improve developmental areas. Recognises the importance of how he/she is perceived by others. Continually asks for feedback from peers, staff, supervisors, etc. Listens and responds appropriately to criticism. Actively chooses to participate in projects or activities that will leverage his/her strengths or provide him/her with developmental opportunities. Knows his/her limitations and when he/she is not capable of taking on a task without assistance. Capable of showing restraint when working under conditions of stress, frustration, or tension. Builds trust by demonstrating reliability. Knows ones own strengths, emotions, and limitations. Knows when and how to say no. Manages impulsive feelings by staying calm and composed. Holds oneself accountable. Seeks out fresh ideas from a variety of sources. Takes on fresh perspectives and risks in ones own thinking. Takes tough principled stands even if they are unpopular. Presents oneself with self-assurance and selfconfidence.

X Negative Indicators
Does not place a high value on how he/she is perceived or how his/her actions are reflected on the organisation. Ploughs through his/her daily activities with no regard for others feedback about his/her actions. Holds perceptions of himself/herself that are not in line or accurate with how others perceive him/her. Becomes defensive and does not readily accept constructive criticism. Does not take advantage of opportunities to leverage strengths or improve developmental areas. Has difficulty recognising his/her personal limitations and does not know when to say no or ask for assistance. Fails to speak up when one has a strong opinion. Seeks continuous approval and is constantly apologising. Does not admit own mistakes and assume responsibility. Does not follow through on promises and commitments.




Could you please describe an occasion when you were able to

remain outwardly calm, even when you were provoked? Why did you adopt this approach? What effect did it have? What feedback did you receive about the approach you adopted?

Could you describe a situation where you were very open with
your feelings? Why did you adopt this approach? What effect did it have? If similar circumstances arose, what, if anything, would you do differently? pressure? To what extent were your colleagues and team aware of the stress you were under? How did they know? What did you do? What was the outcome?

Tell me about a time when you have been under a lot of



Building Trust
Dealing openly, honestly, and transparently with issues and people. Follows through on commitments, pays attention to the interests of others, and deals in a trustworthy and dependable manner.

9 Positive Indicators
Spends time developing mutually beneficial relationships with others. Takes the time to get to know internal and external partners on a personal level. Promotes policies, procedures, or structures that support strong relationships, both internally and externally. Follows through on commitments to build credibility and trust. Takes the time to learn the cultural customs, language, personal preferences, background, etc. of others. Readily offers co-operation and assistance to others and makes a strong effort to develop close and credulous relationships. Considers the feelings, concerns, and interests of others when making decisions. Encourage others to seek guidance and support when they have questions or are experiencing frustrations. Looks for opportunities for synergy between people/teams.

X Negative Indicators
Does not effectively utilise opportunities to develop strategic relationships with individuals or partners relevant to UNICEFs mission/mandate. Attitudes and behaviours do not foster positive ties with partners and do little to strengthen UNICEFs position for improving the lives of women and children. Is so focused on completing the task at hand, that little effort or emphasis is placed on developing and nurturing relationships with others. Focuses only on self-serving, once-sided relationships that create more animosity than trust. Reacts in a defensive or argumentative manner. Bases communication on strictly factual-level and does not seek to develop more personal relationships with others. Does not appreciate the difficulties or constraints under which others are working. Actions and reactions focus solely on ones own interests. Does not get involved in discussions and debate. Fails to appreciate the constraints that others are under. Refuses to help other team member. Is uncomfortable with people and makes them feel uncomfortable Gets into unnecessary conflicts.




Please tell me about a time when you have tried hard to be very
frank and open. Why was frankness important? How did you approach the situation? What did you say? What did you do? How was your message received?

Could you please describe a time when you have needed to

demonstrate the kind of behaviour or standards that you require of others around you? What was the situation? How did you need to behave? Why was this important? How were your actions perceived by others?

It is sometimes very difficult to treat everyone in the same way.

Can you think of an occasion when you have been challenged over this? What led to the challenge? What did you do as a result? How might you have handled the situation differently?



Makes firm and speedy decisions, which require immediacy and urgency, and commits to definite courses of action on the basis of limited information.

9 Positive Indicators
Makes decisions in a timely manner based upon factual information, impact upon people, analyses, wisdom, and experience. Carefully considers both political implications and impact on the child when making difficult decisions. Makes thoughtful, outcome based decisions, even with ambiguous information under pressure and tight deadlines. Considers the severity or implications of a situation and makes provisions for damage control. Does not back down from a decision even under pressure, in the context of UNICEFs principles and values. Make tough and potentially unpopular decisions despite opposition. Effectively handles extreme decisions that fall outside of standard policies and regulations. Consult with others for input and counsel when necessary. Weighs up alternative courses of action. Emphasises personal accountability in his/her decision-making.

X Negative Indicators
Tend to need more time than others and struggles to make quality decisions in a timely manner. Reacts impulsively when making decisions. Has difficulty maintaining a balance between individual decision-making and team-based decision-making which calls for collective action. Fluctuates or second-guesses his/her decisions during times which require snap decision-making. Inconsistent in making appropriate recommendations for action. Makes a decision based on half-truths or unclear facts instead of focusing on substantiated data. Defers tough decisions to others. Procrastinates and delays action; does not escalate decision-making when doing so is necessary. Will not act unless complete information is available. Seeks to blame others for poor decision. Escalates decisions unnecessarily. Takes others advice without due reflection. Allows ambiguous situations to persist.




Tell me about a time when you have needed to confront

someone who you believed was behaving inappropriately? What was the specific situation? What did you say and do? How was this received? What have been the consequences of your action? you had been less tolerant of another persons inappropriate behaviour? What delayed or prevented your action? What was the impact of this? How might your behaviour at this time have differed from that of your colleagues? to make at work? What made it so difficult? What things did you need to consider in making this decision? What were the implications of making an error? How did you feel about needing to make the decision? What feedback did you receive about the outcome you achieved?

Could you describe an occasion where in hindsight, you wish

Tell me about one of the toughest decisions you have needed



POST TITLE:____Senior Programme Officer____

Name of Candidate External/Internal Nationality Date of Birth Gender Date and Place of Interview Face-to-face Interviewer(s) Ms. AAAA Ms. BBBB Mr. CCCC or

Ms. XXXX YYYY External Kenya 10/10/1965 Female 24 March 2004, Nairobi Telephone D


Under the guidance of the IEC, incumbent facilitates the planning, developing and implementation of the Early Childhood Education policies and activities as well as the strategy of social mobilization and other elements of the Education programme. 1. Under the guidance of the IEC, contribute toward the design, preparation, implementation and evaluation of the components of the country Education programme. Analyse and evaluate data to ensure achievement of the objective and/or take corrective action when necessary to meet programme/project aims.


1. For detailed information on "UNICEF COMPETENCIES" please go the Learning Web on the UNICEF Intranet. Under the portal "Personal x Professional development" you will find the following: a) UNICEF Guide to Competency Based Interviewing. b) Outline of UNICEF COMPETENCIES. c) Competency Profiles for every functional area; each profile consists of 6 Foundational competencies, applicable to all levels and functions as well as of specific Functional competencies and Technical Knowledge. d) For each competency you will find Positive and Negative Behaviour Indicators. Please use them when developing interview questions and when assessing and rating candidates. They will facilitate your selection, and make it more fair, consistent and objective. 2. The six Foundational competencies are applicable to all UNICEF staff positions: They are "Always Important' and therefore should always be assessed in an interview. 3. The Functional competencies: You need to identify the 3-5 functional competencies which are "Critically Important" for success in the level of the job, and assess them during the interview. While all other functional competencies in the Profile are still "Important", you may not have the time to assess them during a competency-based interview. If so, please note that they could also be assessed through other criteria, such as reference checking, application forms, publications, reports, presentations, development assignments, written assignments, evaluation reports, role play or simulation exercises. 4. Before the interview: this is a critical stage that determines future success of the entire selection process. During this phase, it is important that the interview Panel agrees on the following: a) Distribution of competencies to be assessed among interviewers, so that each interviewer knows in advance which of the "critically important" competencies he/she will explore and probe during the interview. b) Sufficient time should be allowed for the panel to meet and agree on the questions to be asked during the interview. c) Definition of both present and likely future requirements" of the position (What do we expect the incumbent to do and how? One year from now, how will we know whether the incumbent has been successful? What will be the incumbents initial objectives?) d) Definition of the position's "critical incidents" or "commonly occurring situations" that the incumbent will most likely have to confront and deal with successfully to be considered a very good performer. Examples of critical incidents may be obtained from supervisors of the post, other managers, and staff in similar positions or from previous job-holders. It is important to identify in advance which behaviors would be considered examples of good or bad responses to these critical incidents. Again, this would make the assessment more objective, fair and transparent.


Please think of past real examples in UNICEF offices (i.e., both positive and negative performance incidents and actual problem scenarios) which are very useful for questions on critical incidents. This is an effective way of determining whether the candidate has strongly developed competencies to deal with those issues and situations. e) It is critical to select open-ended questions that will help probe into various aspects of a competency. Moreover, questions must be prepared in advance and in behavioural terms. For example, instead of asking "How do you feel about taking risk", the interviewer could ask "Tell me about a situation in which you faced risks", to be followed by "How did you deal with it? f) If several candidates are to be interviewed on the same day, a timetable should be prepared. It should allow sufficient time for each interview and provide the interviewer with ample time to complete the interview protocol. Normally a competency based interview last for approximately an hour or more, and 20 minutes are required for completing the assessment, ranking the candidates. Please remember to suspend judgement during the interview, just observe and record.

g) The interviewers must have the Job description and/or terms of reference together with all
relevant background information/CV of each candidate. h) The panel may wish to recommend learning / developmental support for the candidate. i) The panel should arrange for all interviewed candidates to receive feedback (please refer to the developmental coaching guidelines in the P2D portal


Assessment W O N D D D E Comments

Technical Knowledge:
A. Academic Qualifications: University degree, preferably advanced university degree or equivalent background, in Social Sciences, Civil Engineering, Public Health, Environmental Sanitation, Sanitary Engineering, Hygiene, Education, or other relevant disciplines, with training in rural water supply, sanitation, hygiene, or a related technical field. B. Experience (Please select one below) Junior


Senior Ten to thirteen years of relevant professional work experience. Developing country work experience (for NO). Background/ Familiarity with emergency and security. 15 years professional experience.

Two years of relevant professional work experience.

Five to eight years of relevant professional work experience. Developing Developing country work country work experience (for experience (for NO). NO). Background/ Background/ Familiarity with Familiarity with emergency and emergency and security. security. C. Specialized Expertise:

Worked briefly in NGO.

Extensive experience as engineer in water purification.

Knowledge of water and sanitation practices and technology. Understanding of community relations. D. Languages:

Fluency in English Fluency in French Fluency in Spanish Knowledge of other UN working language(s)

D Mother tongue D D D

Junior-Level: applies to posts categorized as NO-A, NO-B, L-1, L-2, P-1, and P-2. Mid-Level: applies to posts categorized as NO-C, NO-D, L-3, L-4, P-3, and P-4. Senior level: applies to posts categorized as P-5 and above as well as Section Chief / Office Head (National and International Officers).


Competencies Required Foundational Competencies:

Commitment Passionately and enthusiastically demonstrates responsibility and dedication to UNICEF and its mission and mandate. Aligns ones conduct with UNICEFs goals, ideals and guiding principles. Commits to building a culture that embodies these ideals. Drive for Results Effectively translates ideas into actions. Has a drive to implement goals and objectives, to accomplish tasks, ensuring the end-results or services are delivered to the clients by deadlines. Makes things happen through perseverance and tenacity. Achieves quantifiable and measurable results. Identifies areas for improvement and takes necessary steps to implement those changes. Embracing Diversity Values differences in gender, culture, opinions, values, perspectives, ideas, skills, and experiences. Managing and leveraging this diversity to maximize UNICEF's effectiveness. Integrity Acts with uncompromising ethics and honesty at all times, in all situations, both professionally and personally. Self-Awareness and Self-Regulation Knowing and managing ones own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, passions, interests, and values. Teamwork Cooperates and works effectively with others in the pursuit of common goals.

Assessment O N W D D E D


Strong commitment towards learning new skills.

Strong interest in working in UN/UNICEF, and making a difference.

Proven record of getting things done effectively.

Several of her technological ideas are now the standard for water purification.


Worked in several countries, with a variety of people.

Seems a bit introverted, but very articulate. Aware of her own strengths.

Mainly worked independently throughout D career; never leaded a team/project with others.


Assessment W O N D D D E Comments

Competencies Required

Critical Functional Competencies:

Analytical and Conceptual Thinking Solves problems based on the critical review of facts, data, and information and draws conclusions based on logical reasoning. Influence Influences attitudes and opinions of others and gain agreement to proposals, plans and ideas. Effectively negotiates and persuades. Team Leadership Energizes, inspires, and develops others by creating a shared vision, demonstrates model performance and professionalism, and recognizes and rewards results. Technical Knowledge/ Technical Leadership Exercises relevant expertise or utilizes knowledge of a technical nature that requires specific training, experience, and education relevant to UNICEFs work and ones specific functional area. Takes leadership in the creation of new strategies and approaches based on the latest technical knowledge of a given field.


Very good understanding of technical issues. Proven record of solving problems quickly and effectively. Not a big networker. Focuses on own solutions, does not ask for others opinions. Never lead a team/project. Prefers to work alone, or be given clear instructions.

Excellent, documented technical knowledge.

Junior-Level: applies to posts categorized as NO-A, NO-B, L-1, L-2, P-1, and P-2. Mid-Level: applies to posts categorized as NO-C, NO-D, L-3, L-4, P-3, and P-4. Senior level: applies to posts categorized as P-5 and above as well as Section Chief / Office Head (National and International Officers).


Comments and Recommendation

A strong candidate with a relevant background for the position. She seems a bit shy, but handled all questions professionally. Strong commitment towards new learning. Interested in using her private sector experience in the UN system. It is recommended that she is among the other candidates in the final short listing. Can be considered for the roster for future positions.

Learning / Developmental Needs:

It would be beneficial for her to attend a project manager/team-leader workshop or training opportunity.

Name and Title of Interviewer(s):

Date and Signature(s):