A guide to UNFPA's 2018 Leadership Pool

By Emma Smith 01 December 2017
The UNFPA humanitarian relief team in Mahendra Jyoti village in Nepal's Kavre district, one of the areas hardest-hit by the April 2015 earthquake. Photo by: Santosh Chhetri / UNFPA Nepal

Through its annual Leadership Pool, the United Nations Population Fund is planning for its talent needs in the coming year. The talent pool initiative, which is currently open for applications, recruits professionals for international rotational posts while also seeking to create a more diverse leadership team throughout the agency. First introduced in 2013, the Leadership Pool was designed to “ensure better diversity, better quality of candidates, and a broader reach,” says Michael Dahl, chief of talent management at UNFPA. This year sees the sixth “call for expressions of interest”’ in the Leadership Pool, which is open to both external and internal candidates and is expected to once again attract several thousand applicants, says Dahl.

The 2018 pool is recruiting representatives, deputy representatives, and international operations managers to support UNFPA’s rotational policy and be deployed across a range of contexts, including hardships posts. If you are interested in applying to the Leadership Pool, here’s more information about the assessment process and which profiles are in demand this year.

The application process

Eligible candidates are invited to apply to the Leadership Pool online by Dec. 8. Screening questions will establish whether they meet the minimum requirements and have experience in the priority areas outlined by the agency, such as language skills. The candidates who are successfully shortlisted are then assessed against seven criteria, explains Dahl, which range from “management experience to experience with our mandate, experience with international organizations, working in the field, experiences with the main languages of the U.N., and also volunteer experience.” The agency then considers each job category to establish where there are particular talent gaps or the need for more diversity such as more women in senior management positions or greater representation of certain nationalities.  

This year, the agency is again looking in particular for French speakers and professionals with a humanitarian background.

A panel of internal senior managers look at the applicants, considering performance evaluations and promotion opportunities, before an external consultant is brought into work with all shortlisted candidates on a series of psychometric tests. Finally, the successful group is invited to an onsite assessment center, which typically lasts a day and a half, and involves an interview and a number of simulation exercises. The interview is not so much about screening candidates as it is about “getting a better picture,” says Dahl, while the simulation exercises are designed “to create a work day of a representative” of the agency. Each candidate will go through six to eight scenarios, which are typical situations for staff in these positions, including chairing meetings with external and internal staff and making decisions on challenging situations.