How Long To Hear Back From A UN Interview? We Tell You

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…so you’ve just had an interview for a job with the United Nations. Congratulations on getting this far! UN jobs are highly competitive, even being short-listed for an interview is an achievement. The first question that is often going through people’s heads now is, how long until I hear if I got the job?

The United Nations usually takes about two weeks to get back to candidates after an interview. However, there is no set rule within the UN, and some candidates may hear back sooner, and for some positions it could even take a month or longer for the candidates to hear back.

…but that’s just an overview. Actually, UN recruitment is quite complex, so let us explain fully.

How Long Does The UN Take To Get Back To You After An Interview

Candidates should hear back in about ten working days after their UN interview. With that said, it’s important to be patient as sometimes it can take much longer to hear back from the United Nations recruitment team.

As we’ve said, there is no set timeframe in which the UN recruiters must give you a response after you have done an interview. The length of time it takes to hear back depends entirely on how fast the recruitment is moving. Once the recruitment process is complete for all candidates, and a decision by the hiring panel has been made, then the United Nations HR department will get back to each applicant with the outcome of their interview.

…this means that it can take only a few days to hear back from a United Nations interview. If you were the last candidate interviewed, and the hiring manager and recruitment panel can decide quickly, then you can hear back quite soon. However, if you were interviewed first, or there are issues that mean making a final decision on a candidate is complex, it can be several months before you get a reply.

Why Does The UN Sometimes Take Ages To Give Interview Feedback?

United Nations recruitments are highly complex. There are also sometimes operational or financial constraints when recruiting a position, or decisions such as the roles placement within the HR structure or exact nature of the job still need to be decided. These factors can mean sometimes it takes the UN a long time to get back to candidates after an interview.

There are actually a number of reasons why it sometimes takes weeks, of even months, before the United Nations replies to candidates after an interview.

In some cases, decisions about the exact nature of the role are not fully made before the recruitment is launched. Or, more often, once candidates have been long-listed, short-listed and interviewed, the hiring managers decide to make changes to the role. This can sometimes be informed by the pool of candidates that have applied. These changes to positions, or its placement within the structure, can take a long time to work out. It’s common for the UN to keep candidates waiting whilst they make these decisions.

Another reason why the United Nations can take a long time to get back to applicants after an interview is actually because they offered the job to one candidate, but either that person is taking time to decide on accepting the position or not, or negotiations are ongoing. The UN will usually leave all the other candidates waiting whilst this happens. This is in case the first-choice candidate declines the post they can then offer it to the second-place candidate. If they then decline, it can go to the third choice… and so on.

United Nations Online Courses

If you are interested in working for the United Nations, we highly recommend the online course United Nations Jobs Guide. It’s a great overview of the UN recruitment system and includes valuable tips for anyone looking to build a career within the United Nations. Follow the link to the course’s page.

We also think the United Nations CV and Cover Letter online course is a must for anyone looking to get a job in the UN. It goes through exactly what is needed when applying for a UN position and provides guidance on what exactly to include. It also shows students what the UN recruitment process is like. Follow the link to get full details on the course.

An important step for those wanting to work for the United Nations is to get a strong understanding of how the UN works, and what its global role is. We recommend the online course Global Diplomacy: The United Nations in the World offered by SOAS in London. Not only does it give a fantastic overview of the UN; the fact it is offered by SOAS – one of the top colleges in the world for international relations studies, makes it a great addition to the CV of anyone applying for a job at the UN. Click the link for more information.

What Should I Do If I Haven’t Heard Back From A UN Interview?

If you haven’t heard back from your interview with the United Nations, first you should be patient. It can be frustrating, but remember it can take several weeks for the UN to get back to candidates. If three or four weeks have passed after your interview, you could consider following up with your UN recruiter.

It can be very frustrating when the United Nations takes a long time to get back to you after an interview. It can also be nerve wracking waiting to hear if you got the job, even if it only takes a few days to get the feedback.

Generally, the best practice is to just wait and give the United Nations hiring panel time to make their decision. However, if you haven’t heard back after three weeks, sending a polite email to the UN recruiter just saying you are still very interested in the job, can sometimes help. Often though there are either other candidates being interviewed as part of the short-list, or it is taking time for the UN hiring panel to make a decision, and either you won’t get a reply to your follow-up, or you get a standard response saying that the UN recruiters will get back to you soon.

Can I Speed-Up Getting Feedback From My UN Interview?

As we’ve said, it can definitely be difficult waiting to hear back after a UN interview. Many people wish they could speed up the process and find some way to get feedback quicker. So, is there a way to find out sooner if you got that United Nations job or not?

There is no way for candidates to speed up the UN recruitment process. Even sending a follow-up email will not quicken the recruitment, it may just remind the recruiters to get back to you, or they may give you a general update on when you may hear back.

Refrain from sending several follow-up emails. Do not harass the United Nations recruitment team. This may actually hurt your chances of getting the job.

If three weeks since the interview have passed, send a follow-up email. Sending another follow-up after two or three more weeks would not hurt. If you still have not heard back, make sure to wait several more weeks before emailing again. After two or three follow-ups, if you have not got a response, perhaps it is best to assume you have not got the job…

I Haven’t Heard Back A UN Interview; Did I Not Get The Job?

The UN usually replies to all candidates after an interview, even if this takes some time. This means if you haven’t heard back after your interview, it doesn’t necessarily mean you haven’t got the job. However, if three or four weeks have passed, consider sending an email to the United Nations recruiter for the position as a follow-up.

…it can take several weeks, or even months, for the UN to get back to candidates after an interview. However, if a month to six weeks has passed since the interview and you have not had a reply, it is perhaps best to consider you have not got the job and begin to apply for other positions. If you then do hear back months later and do get the job, it can be a nice surprise. 

If you would like to know about getting a job at the UN, explore our page on the top United Nations online courses here.


Duncan is the founder of Humanitarian Careers. With over ten years experience in the aid industry across fifteen countries, Duncan set-up Humanitarian Careers to help people launch their own career in international aid.