Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about LEAD

How can I apply to the LEAD programme?

You can apply to the programme only through our website Kindly note that the programme is only launched once per year for candidates to submit their application.

When does the LEAD Programme launch?

The Programme is usually launched in June/July of each year, however it is advisable that you check the website frequently for updates on the programme.

Who can apply to the LEAD programme?

Anyone of any nationality can apply, however since the programme is geared towards recruiting young professionals, preference will be given to candidates who are under 35 years of age.

To whom and where should I send my application?

Applications are only accepted through our on-line system at

What are the required qualifications?

Candidates must have completed an advanced university degree (Masters or equivalent) in development studies, economics, social sciences, business administration or a related discipline; have at least five (5) years of experience relevant to the work of UNDP; be proficient in English and at least one other UN language (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish) or Portuguese.

When is the deadline to apply?

The application deadline is usually one month from the date of the launch of the programme.

Besides the eligibility criteria, what are the other qualities that are important for selection?

The screening process will include:
•A review essay questions answered through the on-line application;
•A review of the P-11 form submitted through the on-line application;
•A written exam;
•Language assessment;
•Two face-to-face interviews;
•Reference checks.

The entire selection process takes approximately for 6-7 months and candidates are short-listed at every stage of the selection process. Due to the large number of applications received only short listed candidates will be notified of their progress in the selection process. After each selection stage, results will be communicated to you. Merit is the first criterion for selection. At the same time, as an international development organization, we value diversity in our workforce. Thus, gender and geographical balance are also considered in the final selection of candidates.

How can I assess myself and my competencies to determine whether I am a serious candidate for the LEAD Programme?

After meeting the basic LEAD selection criteria, review your motivation and value system to determine if it fits in with the mission of UNDP. Examine your past experience in dealing with complex problems, management issues, networking and cooperation with people from diverse backgrounds. Ask for feedback from colleagues and supervisors in these areas to determine if you have the necessary skills.

What are the career options offered by the LEAD Programme?

Two leadership tracks are formally recognized within the Programme with progressive career benchmarks in each and crossover encouraged. The two tracks are policy advice and development management and business operations. In addition the programme provides opportunities for participants to build their competencies and to apply their expertise.

Where will the written test be conducted and will UNDP pay for my travel for the written test and interviews?

The written test will be administered online. However, if you are in a region where internet connectivity is problematic, then arrangements can be made for you to take a proctored written test at a UN/UNDP location nearest to you. UNDP will pay for all your travel related to the selection process.

What kind of contract will I receive?

You will be given a fixed-term contract initially for a period of one year, which will be renewed, based on your performance. Candidates are typically offered contracts at the P3 level (the hierarchy of the UN salary scale being P1 – P5, in ascending order).

At what salary level would I come into the programme at?

Most candidates come into the programme at the P-3 level (the hierarchy of the UN salary scale is P1 – P5, with P1 being the higher level).

What benefits will I receive?

Compensation is comparable with international organizations varying according to duty stations. You will be entitled to participation in our pension plan, health insurance, and will be entitled to assignment grant, travel expenses upon appointment, repatriation grant, 30 days annual leave per year, home leave travel (every 2 years), sick leave, dependency allowance and education grant (if applicable).

Which country will I be working in?

You can be assigned to any of the 136 UNDP country offices around the world. The assignments usually correspond with your professional profile and language skills. The LEAD assignments emphasize varied exposure to development management, policy work and business operations. Please note that you could be assigned to a hardship duty station, based on business needs.

What training and career development support does LEAD offer?

The LEAD programme offers an Induction two week training at headquarters in New York in the areas of policy, organizational processes and leadership skills development. On completion of the first year, participants go through another review training workshop for 2 weeks to share ideas, experience and further work on specific competencies. UNDP also offers various other learning resources, and numerous interactive on-line courses.

In addition, each candidate will also have a mentor as part of a formal mentoring system, who will provide support for professional and personal development.

How many times can I apply?

There is no limit to applying to the LEAD Programme.

How do I plan my career to best position myself to apply to the LEAD Programme?

If you are still studying at a university or college, take some courses related to development, intercultural or management studies. In the field of your interest try to obtain practical experience ideally through a regular job and in addition to internship, summer work or any engagement that would expose you to the actual work in the field. Also work on your foreign language skills (English / French / Spanish / Arabic / Russian) to become fluent in at least one of these languages in addition to English. Take initiative and explore your leadership talents.

Where and when will the interviews take place?

Only short-listed candidates will be interviewed by a panel of senior current and former staff from of the organization. Interviews are held in New York and another location easily accessible to European and African/Asian candidates.

Can I undertake the interview by teleconference or by phone?

All interviews are face-to-face. Only in extremely exceptional circumstances are candidates allowed to undertake the interviews by teleconference or by phone.

When can I expect to hear whether my application is initially short-listed?

The first round of short-listing of candidates is expected to last between one to two months from the deadline date of applications.