“… [some thoughts] on the UN [from a student’s perspective] …”

I’m currently studying a brief but – for me – highly engaging module on the subject of the United Nations, in my MA in Criminal Justice at Liverpool John Moores University.

I have fallen in love with the institution – the UN I mean (LJMU goes without saying!) – in much the same way as one falls properly in love with a person.

One begins to see the wisdoms of how the other is: that what appears weakness or incompatibility or strangeness or simple foolishness has a much longer-term value; in fact, a longer-term strategy.

The power that is exerted by those who don’t feel a primal need to puff out their chests in order that they may achieve their goals is truly remarkable.

I just did a compatibility survey – rather early this morning – on how my values and job goals might fit with the UN’s Political, Peace and Humanitarian Network (POLNET).

You can find the link by searching “polnet self-assessment questionnaire”: I’ve tried sharing the link itself on Twitter just now, and it either says you’ve already done the survey (if you include the user-specific data in the URL), or breaks and apologises for the issue (if you don’t include the user-specifics).

Btw, if you do search as suggested, and click on a link which requires payment of some sort, then you’ve clicked on the wrong link.  The UN never charges during any part of its recruitment processes.


Below, the results of my questionnaire.

I’m not super-compatible, but next level down.

But excepting my unease about having to do without normal medical facilities, I think I am – after all – pretty usefully compatible.

Don’t you think?

Thank you for taking the time to complete this POLNET Self-Assessment Questionnaire!

As a reminder, based on your self-indicated preferences and ratings of comfortability, your Organization and Network Compatibility score is 103.


• If your score is 120 or higher, your personal preferences and outlook are extremely compatible with the United Nations’ working environment and jobs within the Political, Peace and Humanitarian Network (POLNET).

• If your score is between 100 to 120, most of your personal preferences and outlook are compatible with the United Nations’ working environment and jobs within POLNET.

• If your score is between 75 to 100, some of your personal preferences and outlook are compatible with the United Nations’ working environment and jobs within POLNET, however it is likely you may find the work and environment unsustainable in the long term.
• If your score is less than 75, your personal preferences indicate there are many aspects of the United Nations’ and POLNET working environments that would make you uncomfortable and leave you unfulfilled in the long term.
Below, you are able to review each scenario in the context of sub-categories and be reminded of your responses to better understand the scoring as well as gauge your fit to the Organization and POLNET.


As an international civil servant, you are expected to uphold the highest standards of professionalism and integrity in all matters affecting your work and status. Acting with integrity is performing in a selfless, impartial and honest manner at all times. When you work at the United Nations this means living the values of the Organization in your daily activities and behaviour. Integrity upholds the professionalism of the staff; it is the backbone of efficiency. To work with professionalism is to be dedicated, conscientious and efficient in meeting deadlines and achieving results. It means demonstrating competence in your area of expertise, and in any situation, presenting the best possible appearance, commitment and pride in your work. Those we serve have a right to expect no less.


Scenario: Working with sensitive and confidential information.
You Answered: Comfortable

Scenario: Mediating between colleagues as well as internal and external stakeholders.
You Answered: Very Comfortable

Scenario: Standing by decisions that are in the Organization’s interest, even if they are unpopular.
You Answered: Neutral
Scenario: Acting without consideration of personal gain.
You Answered: Very Comfortable

Scenario: Sticking with difficult tasks over extended periods of time.
You Answered: Very Comfortable



Working for the United Nations is a calling that demands both personal dedication and sacrifice. As an international civil servant, you will often be pushed beyond your comfort zone. Working and living conditions in the field vary. If you serve in a peacekeeping or political mission, or in a humanitarian field operation, the country or region that you work and live in is likely to be emerging from conflict or an emergency situation where the conditions are more arduous; the infrastructure is weak and electricity and clean water are often in short supply. In addition, most peacekeeping, political or humanitarian missions are categorized as “non-family” duty stations, and therefore family members are unable to join the staff member.


Scenario: Working long or unusual hours to meet the global nature of the work.
You Answered: Very Comfortable

Scenario: Having limited to no access to medical facilities that I may be accustomed to.
You Answered: Uncomfortable

Scenario: Working and living in a conflict or post-conflict location with poor infrastructure, security and limited electricity and mobile/internet coverage.
You Answered: Very Uncomfortable
Scenario: Living in basic, shared accommodations with community bathrooms.
You Answered: Comfortable
Scenario: Using all modes of transportation (land, air, sea, etc.), often to remote areas with poor roads, for professional and personal travel.
You Answered: Neutral

Respect for Diversity

Diversity is a defining feature of the United Nations. With some 41,000 staff from our 193 Member States, you will find yourself working in multi-cultural teams with people from all backgrounds and cultures who have wide perspectives, experiences, expectations as well as approaches. The UN recognizes that the diversity of its staff is an asset in tackling its complex tasks. We are called to respect and learn from each other’s differences and rely on them to find more creative ways to solve everyday challenges.


Scenario: Empowering women and promoting gender equality.
You Answered: Very Comfortable

Scenario: Working in a multi-cultural environment and interacting with people from different backgrounds, cultures, genders and religions.
You Answered: Very Comfortable

Scenario: Working with people who do not share the same set of morals or beliefs as I do.
You Answered: Neutral

Scenario: Working with the most marginalized, vulnerable, disabled, and excluded segments of societies.
You Answered: Very Comfortable

Scenario: Working with women or having a female manager.
You Answered: Very Comfortable


Work Capabilities

If you are looking for a position with the United Nations you should also possess a combination of skills, attributes and behavior that are directly related to successful performance on the job. The scenarios reflect some of the core capabilities required to work at the United Nations.


Scenario: Using either English or French as one of my working languages.
You Answered: Very Comfortable

Scenario: Negotiating with and persuading others to reach a mutual agreement.
You Answered: Very Comfortable

Scenario: Working efficiently and effectively under extreme pressure.
You Answered: Comfortable

Scenario: Developing and maintaining strong personal and professional relationships with government officials, other UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, diplomatic missions, media, etc.
You Answered: Comfortable

Scenario: Communicating clearly in speech and writing with all levels of audiences.
You Answered: Very Comfortable


The work of the United Nations touches every corner of the globe. We have increased our presence in locations all over the world, going where we are needed most. The wide array of jobs means that you may change functions, departments, geographic locations, and even organizations or fields of work periodically throughout your career in the Organization. It is important to consider the effect these movements will have on your personal as well as professional life.


Scenario: Living outside my home country.
You Answered: Very Comfortable

Scenario: Remaining in one location throughout my career.
You Answered: Neutral

Scenario: Relocating temporarily if needed with very little notice in event of crisis or emergency situations.
You Answered: Comfortable

Scenario: Working and living in a duty station that does not allow me to bring my family.
You Answered: Neutral

Scenario: My children/partner changing schools/employment every few years.
You Answered: Very Comfortable

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