Alumni of the week

A meaningful job

Peder Apall-Olsen


Head of Recruitment and Development Unit

Norwegian Refugee Council

MSc in Leadership and Organisational Psychology 2009

“The act of ensuring that the people we send out to help refugees have the right skills and qualifications, is something I think about a lot. ”

How can one contribute to world peace from an office in Oslo? This is something Peder endeavours to do every day. It is no easy task and the decisions he makes can be crucial.

The UN Refugee Fund accounts conclude that the current number of refugees is the highest since World War II. Close to 90 million people are currently fleeing war, conflict, persecution and natural disasters. These people need help to secure food, shelter, security, due process and education – the list is long and the need for help is great. The Norwegian Refugee Council provides more than 14 000 aid workers around the world, most of whom work in the field. It is challenging to recruit the right people for such work.

Assisting in peace processes
Peder's job involves recruiting expert personnel who can assist the UN and other international organisations with staffing in situations where they themselves do not have access to the right skills. Among other things, he has helped recruit advisers for UN peace negotiators. This responsibility cannot be taken lightly.

"One of the most important things for me to determine in an interview, is whether a person is suitable for the type of extreme challenges they will be subjected to if they work for us."

Extraordinary expertise required
In order to actually determine a person's suitability, Peder must know which characteristics, skills and other factors are relevant for the position he is recruiting. He also has substantial insight into fields such as psychology and management, in addition to skills in various interview techniques and recruitment tools. When the candidates talk about relevant experience and situations they have been in, Peder must often clarify which part of the story he is most interested in:

"I'm interested in hearing about what he or she did in a specific situation in order to better understand how the candidate handles various challenges."

A meaningful job
There are many ways to contribute to the community. You do not necessarily need to directly tackle the issues in order to help solve them. Even though Peder works behind the scenes, he nevertheless plays an active role in helping some of the millions of the world's refugees.

"The act of ensuring that the people we send out to help refugees have the right skills and qualifications, is something I think about a lot. I'm proud that I can contribute."