This is the complete recording and presentation of the 2020 EPSO Administrators in European Law Exams Information Webcast (EPSO/AD/381/20):
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View these Methodology Webinars (many are free)...
- Beginner’s Guide To The EPSO Verbal Reasoning Test - FREE
- Pro Tips For The EPSO Verbal Reasoning Test
- Beginner’s Guide To The EPSO Numerical Reasoning Test - FREE
- Pro Tips For The EPSO Numerical Reasoning Test
- Maths Refresher For Numerical Reasoning
- Beginner’s Guide To The EPSO Abstract Reasoning Test - FREE
- Pro Tips For The EPSO Abstract Reasoning Test
- Beginner’s Guide To The EPSO Language Comprehension Test - FREE
- Introduction To The EPSO Assessment Centre - FREE
- EPSO Competency-Based Interview Insights
- EPSO Oral Presentation Insights
Transcript Quick Links
INTRO - Sound check, greetings and introduction (00:00-05:55)
Presenter: Andras Baneth
I’ll start with a legal disclaimer, we do our best to be as accurate as possible, but if you hear any information from me today that contradicts what you see in any official EPSO communications or in the Notice of Competition then the EPSO information certainly takes precedence. The source for 100% reliable legal information is always in the Notice of Competition.
ABOUT EU TRAINING
Just a few key pieces of information for you here before we get into today's topic.
- We’ve been helping the community of EU exam candidates for many years now.
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- There are many EPSO themed Facebook groups, including one for this particular competition. You can share insights, ideas, news, rumors, updates, success stories with each other in these groups.
- We have 25,000+ test packages to help you. We have a huge database with many languages, 19 languages.
- Over 17 million questions have been used, which is pretty fascinating.
Make sure you check out our webinars. There is a slide at the very end listing the FREE webinars we have out there.
There are dozens of paid webinars you can find on the website to prepare for various aspects and elements of this particular competition, for Abstract, Numerical and Verbal reasoning, and many other methodologies as well.
We have over 100 hours of webinars total
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WHERE WILL YOU WORK? (5:45)
Perhaps the first question you might ask is if you’re less familiar with the EPSO competitions, with the European Personnel Selection Office run competitions, is how does it work in general? It is a competition to select suitable candidates. In the end you are placed on a so-called Reserve List and once you are there you are recruitable. It is not a recruitment exam, it is a selection exam.
Once you are on the Reserve List that is when the recruitment actually happens and you might wonder where you will end up working for the European Union. The most likely answer to that question is Brussels and Luxembourg. That is where basically all the EU Institutions are. The official seat of the European Parliament is in Strasbourg, but it has no presence in Strasbourg from an administrative, bureaucratic standpoint. Essentially, it’s in Brussels and Luxembourg that a lawyer would work for one of the European Institutions.
I use this phrase, ‘one of the European Institutions’ because it’s not exclusively for the European Commission, it’s not for the Court of Justice of the EU that you might work for but any of the EU’s Institutions. All of the ones listed below.
SELECTION & RECRUITMENT TO…
- European Commission
- European Parliament
- Council of Ministers
- European Court of Justice
- European Court of Auditors
- Committee of the Regions
- European Economic & Social Committee
All of these are legally classified as Institutions might be able to hire you, depending on vacancies. Getting hired all depends on if there’s actually an opening. The most likely employer is the European Commission, currently it employs around 33,000 staff, some of whom are permanent staff, some of whom are temporary agents or contract agents, so this is the employer with the largest headcount. Hence, it is most likely that will end up working in the European Commission. Also because all of the European Commission departments actually need lawyers. They are reformulating policy, they represent the institutions in the Court of Justice in negotiations with other institutions, so the EC is a huge mechanism that definitely needs lawyers.
All of the other institutions are also heavily invested in policy making, in legal matters and administrative matters, all of which require legal knowledge.
This is something that is decided in the moment of recruitment. As I mentioned before, in the end you are placed on the Reserve List and where you actually end up working is decided at the moment of recruitment. At this point there’s no clear answer about where you might work, or which institution might hire you.
But, again, Luxembourg is just as likely as Brussels. It also depends on what the institutions have indicated to EPSO about what their hiring needs are likely to be. At this point, the institutions try to predict the number of permanent lawyers they will need. This gets put into the Notice of Competition, once it’s decided how many vacancies they will be advertising, and in the end they will hire accordingly.
With that here’s the answer to how many positions are available? Which you probably already know because it was published in the Notice of Competition itself.
There are 104 positions available for Grade AD5.
What this means is that once the competition is successfully completed there will be 104 names on the Reserve List, which is then published in the official journal, unless you opt out of publication due to privacy reasons, which you have the right to do. But normally, there will be 104 names on the Reserve List, possibly in about six to nine months, with the disclaimer that many things can throw the competition’s schedule of the original plan, but normally in about nine months there will be an official journal in which the Reserve List for the AD5 Lawyer competition laureates will be published and all of those 104 individuals will be eligible to be hired by one of the European Union institutions.
This number may actually change slightly because it depends on the candidates themselves, on you, and how you perform in the exams. The exact number may vary slightly, but this is the benchmark number that the institutions, or EPSO itself, are using, that’s how many people they want to hire.
Let’s put this into perspective. This is a pretty big competition. For EU standards this is a large competition for lawyers. 104 places is considered a pretty significant number, especially for AD level, so Administrator level jobs.
Recently, EPSO announced another competition for Secretaries which was even larger than this one. But, that is a different status, or different line in the staff regulations, different salary, different benefits, different responsibilities. For Administrator level, which is a sort of top level in terms of responsibilities and requirements of degrees, something we’ll come back to later. This is a very sought after position, to have a lawyer position at AD5 level in the Institutions.
Having said that, the 5 in AD5 means it’s entry level, meaning there is no formal work experience required. There are formal qualifications required for you to be eligible, but work experience is not required. You can be a fresh graduate out of university with a degree in law and you can apply for this competition. So if you just got your degree a couple months ago then you can certainly apply for this competition.
Where the work experience does play a role is at the time of recruitment. Therefore, getting some work experience in the legal field until then, while the competition is ongoing, is probably a good idea. It will increase your chances of getting hired in the end once you have successfully completed the competition and you are on the Reserve List. But in formal terms, to be eligible to apply, you don’t need any work experience.
APPLY BEFORE 15 SEPTEMBER 2020
What is the deadline? The deadline is 15th of September, that’s good news, you can still go to the beach if you are allowed to leave your confinement. Hopefully most of Europe is relatively free and hopefully it stays that way. You can do whatever you wish until 15 September, but please don’t leave the application to the very last moment. Servers tend to crash, you might forget, you might have a last minute emergency to take care of and then you miss the deadline. Even if you do it the week before you’re pretty safe.
The application itself is pretty straightforward. You need to fill out a lot of forms, answer some questions, it’s pretty clear cut, there’s not much mental effort involved at this point. What does require a lot of mental effort and preparation is the actual selection process and the exams.
ARE YOU ELIGIBLE? (14:00)
This is the most fundamental question of any competition. First and foremost, you can apply for any number of EU competitions, there are no limitations whatsoever. Unless the Notice of Competition itself does not allow for multiple applications. This is, however, not the case for this current competition, this EU AD5 lawyer exam. You can apply for other competitions that may come up in the next few months. If you are already working at one of the institutions and you are enrolled in an internal competition then you can do it in parallel with this one. Or if you are outside of the institutions and you enrolled in the Secretaries competition, for example, you can do that in parallel as well. As long as you qualify and meet the eligibility criteria then you are free to apply for any number of EU competitions.
When it comes to this particular one, the main question is, are you eligible. Can you actually apply? Do you have the formal documentation and background to be eligible?
- Must have EU citizenship
- A note to our British friends, despite the transition period, the UK is no longer an EU member so EU citizenship is no longer valid there. But everyone else in the EU 27 as long as you have an EU passport and citizenship you are eligible, at least when it comes to these general conditions.
- Completed military service requirements, if this is a requirement in your country.
- Meet the character requirements of the jobIf you are a convicted criminal then you will not be able to work for the EU Institutions.
- You might need to provide some type of certification depending on the country.
Make sure you meet these basic criteria.
- Any of the 24 official EU languages (minimum C1 level)
- Which essentially means any official EU language qualifies
- There are many other languages spoken, obviously, but they might not have the status of an official language. So if you are a Russian speaker, or you speak Luxembourgish, or any other regional languages, that’s great but they are not recognised.
- You need to choose from one of the official languages.
- This is why they no longer use terms like ‘mother tongue’, it has to be Language 1 from any of the 24 official languages, at minimum C1 level, which is a thorough knowledge of that language. Meaning fluent in speaking, writing and reading comprehension.
- For example, my mother tongue is Hungarian, I speak fairly good English, French and Spanish. I have the choice to pick any of these because all of these happen to be EU official languages.
But keep in mind:
- Has to be English or French
- Has to be different from Language 1.
- For example, I could choose French for my Language 1 and English for my Language 2. Or vice versa. Regardless of what my mother tongue is and which language I really speak the most fluently. It’s not linked to citizenship in any way, it’s entirely your choice.
Here is a bit of methodology on how to pick your languages, if you have the fortunate situation of being able to pick from a few languages:
- For Language 1 I generally advise candidates in which their passive understanding is the best. If you have really good reading comprehension, good vocabulary and you’re able to quickly process information, you can read very quickly in a certain language - pick that one.
- When it comes to Language 2, try to pick the language in which you can express yourself in the most eloquent and detailed manner. If you’re really good in spoken English, perhaps choose English as Language 2 because that is the language you’ll be required to use at the Assessment Centre, and even before then. Make sure that you can easily do a role play exercise or an Oral Presentation in your Language 2.
- This is a small consideration, not all candidates will have the luxury to choose a language so deliberately, but if you are multilingual then this is an interesting concept to bear in mind.
I see there is a question here about why German is not included in the Language 2 choice. This is interesting because German is an official ‘working’ language of the European Union, so in operational terms German is always mentioned along with English and French and yet it’s missing as an option here.
First of all, I hope this will not create the outcome of a legal challenge against this particular Notice of Competition, because there have been precedents from Italy and Spain when their languages were not given as options, or in relation to the publication of the Notice of Competition. That created legal problems. I hope that the lack of German as a Language 2 option will not create such legal issues. EPSO has pretty good lawyers, probably hired based on earlier competitions, so this subject is probably well documented and well reasoned.
Why is it still missing? It’s probably for simple, technical and operational reasons. The Selection Board may not be prepared to run Assessment Centres in German. Also, the job you will be required to do as a lawyer may not require any German knowledge. English and French have primary roles as languages in the legal work that lawyers in the institutions are required to do.
I’ll take a look at at some questions now:
Do we need to have an official C1 certificate for English and French?
No, you are not required to provide any type of certificate, you just need to be able to speak those languages at the required level. This is what is expected of you, and the actual testing of your linguistic knowledge will be done through the competition, the multiple choice tests, the intermediate tests, the Assessment Centre and all the rest, will essentially test your language knowledge at those levels.
Any disadvantages to choosing French or English as Language 2?
This is something that I just covered, so hopefully that will point you in the right direction. I’m thinking about what other aspects there might be. Certainly, if there is a group at the Assessment Centre where everybody is a French speaker, obviously language is not just a way of putting words together, it’s also culture, it’s interpersonal dynamics, it has a lot of depth. Perhaps if you are more comfortable in a French-speaking group when it comes to a role play exercise then you might want to pick French.
Whereas an English-speaking group will be slightly different in the group dynamics because of the different language backgrounds. Otherwise, pick the one in which you can express yourself with the greatest ease.
Let’s look at further rules - as mentioned already Language 1 & Language 2 must be different. You certainly cannot choose English for both Language 1 & Language 2. And if you have chosen English for Language 1 you are obliged to choose French for your Language 2, and vice versa
Now here is the trickiest part when it comes to the actual qualifications that you are required to have for this particular competition. For this one you have two options. You need to have either of these listed below:
GRADE AD5 Degree Requirements:
- Completed university studies of at least 4 years attested by a diploma in law
- So if you studied, for example for three years at a particular university and it gave you the title of lawyer, that three years would not qualify you for this competition..
- Authorised to pursue professional activities as a Lawyer in an EU Member State.
- Having passed the BAR EXAM is required.
- With our big legal disclaimer here: This is our interpretation, and it might need to be corroborated with EPSO. But we checked with a few lawyers and this is our most honest and professional interpretation of the rules, that you need to have a bar exam in place for the second option if that’s what applies to you.
- You need to be authorised to pursue professional activities as a lawyer in an EU member state which requires a bar exam basically everywhere.
- This needs to be clarified in one way or another because I understand that this might lead to some confusion. For instance, I know that in Hungary you cannot be a full fledged lawyer unless you’ve passed the bar exam. Which is at least an additional three years after completing university studies, which happens to be five years in Hungary.
Again, this is the way we (EU Training) interpret the rules, but it might need to be clarified by EPSO or the Selection Board to avoid any confusion.
Here’s another thing to bear in mind. This is an AD5 competition, so it does not require any work experience. But, for example, if you have been required to work for three years because otherwise you could not take the bar exam, there does seem to be a slight contradiction there.
To me it’s not a 100% clear situation given the nature of what your professional activities as a lawyer are. Is it a lawyer in front of the court, or corporate council, or some sort of public administration official? My guess is, however, that most candidates fall into the first category, where you have a legal degree of at least four years attested by a diploma in law.
I’ll take a few more questions here:
Is it necessary to hold a degree with a specialisation in European law or is, for example, an Italian university degree in national law enough?
You don’t need any EU law specialisation. It will benefit you for sure, on your performance on the exam, later in the actual job, there are many ways it can be an advantage for you, but it is not a formal requirement. So if you have never dealt with EU law and you have no idea what Cassis de Dijon is other than a great liqueur then it’s still perfectly fine. No, you don’t need any EU law specialisation.
Where it comes in very handy is certainly for the role play exercise and the actual assessment centre. If you go there knowing nothing about any of the case law, the competence of EU courts, what direct effect means, or any of the legal terms and concepts which are EU Law 101, then you will be in trouble because you won’t perform well. But no formal, special degree is actually required, it just needs to be a law degree, with four years of study.
How does any previous experience in a legal area impact the chances of this competition where no previous work experience is required?
Experience in the legal arena, again, it’s the knowledge that will count. During the exam itself, you will not be required to show any proof of employment, or any proof of work experience, because that’s not required.
However, knowing EU law because you have experience with it, will obviously benefit you. Especially during the role play exercises and the different parts of the Assessment Centre. And at the time of recruitment, the same will be true, for example a future employer like DG Energy at the European Commission is looking for a lawyer because they are just entering some trialogues, so they will look through the candidates on the Reserve List and look for the person who has experience in EU Energy Law.
WHY IS THIS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY? (28:40)
I probably don’t need to preach to the converted, for all of you who would like to work as lawyers in the EU institutions you know that it’s a great opportunity.
Certainly salaries are very attractive. We actually have a Salary Calculator on our website where you can enter your data and get a rough idea of your potential salary. For the AD5 Law jobs if you are not married, and have no kids, but you relocate from one of the EU countries, your salary will be between 4,000 - 5,000 euros net per month.
Additionally there is a very good health insurance scheme that comes with it. If you have kids then you can send them to European schools where kids are taught in the native languages of their parents’ countries, there are very different rules if the parents speak different languages. Either way, there are many in kind and salary benefits to these opportunities.
HOW TO GET ONE OF THESE JOBS? (32:35)
Today’s main question: How to get these jobs? First you need to pass the competition, then secure a job. Simple, right? :) To some degree it is simple, but competition is pretty fierce because there are a lot of candidates and the tests tend to be pretty tough. Let’s look at what you need to do in order to succeed:
STEP 1 - APPLICATION PROCESS
- Declare your eligibility given the criteria of EU citizenship, military service, character requirement
- Choose your languages, Language 1 & 2
- Then submit your application in any of the 24 EU languages
Make sure to validate your application by the 15th of September, 2020, and don’t leave it to the last moment. As I said before, make sure you respect the deadlines.
Then comes a main step, the Pre-Selection Exams, these are often referred to as CBT exams which means Computer Based Test. Currently these tests are administered in test centres. Whether it will be changed so that everyone can take their test online, I would say probably not. If the Coronavirus situation gets worse by then, we’ll see which solutions we may come up with. Worst case scenario they will get postponed. But we’ll see what sort of measures will be put into place at that time.
STEP 2 - PRE-SELECTION CBT EXAM
- Verbal Reasoning
- Numerical Reasoning
- Abstract Reasoning
- Language Comprehension
All of these tests are eliminatory. Their primary purpose is to shrink the number of candidates who will move on to the next phase. They are probably expecting several thousand candidates and these are tests that have been objectively proven to level the playing field, where everyone starts with the same chances, but the number who proceed to the next stage will be decreased
These tests have almost nothing to do with the actual job you’ll be doing. If you are an excellent trial lawyer then abstract reasoning is not really the kind of thing you’ll ever deal with. But these are elimanatory tests as part of the pre-selection process.
1. VERBAL REASONING
- Administered in Language 1
- 20 questions
- 35 minutes to complete it
20 questions and 35 minutes is fairly feasible, although with Verbal Reasoning the text passages tend to be relatively long so you need to be able to read very fast. You may even want to take a speed reading course which some of our clients have done in the past.
There’s always a text passage, a question, four statements and one correct answer.
Unlike some other national administration competitions or selection exams, or university exams, entrance exams, here in the EPSO universe, there is only one correct answer. They do try to confuse you with outside information, generalisations, with possibility versus fact, similar wording, etc. This makes it not a very easy exercise, it may seem like it is, but you need to pay close attention to be time efficient.
2. NUMERICAL REASONING
- Administered in Language 1
- 10 questions
- 20 minutes to complete it
This is about data and numbers. So you have 10 questions and 20 minutes which equals two minutes per question.
Quick methodology to use:
- Data interpretation
Basically you are presented with a chart that has numbers and figures and you need to find the right answer according to that information. First you interpret the data, then you reason, you think, you try to understand which pieces you need to pay attention to. In step three you use estimation, or guess-timation, sometimes you can find the right answer roughly by doing some quick mental calculation but you may occasionally want to just use the on-screen calculator provided on the computer interface.
Again, pretty feasible, but calculating answers takes a bit more time usually than what you are given, therefore you need to be very efficient. That’s why practice becomes essential. You may have heard me say this before if you’ve listened to my other webinars, this is like preparing for a sports competition. Your average, physically fit person can probably run 100 metres easily, but the most accomplished athletes can do it in incredibly short times. Therefore, most candidates can probably find the right answers in Verbal and Numerical Reasoning, but only the best can do it incredibly quickly and well. That’s why you need to practice and train your brain to succeed.
3. ABSTRACT REASONING
- Administered in Language 1
- 10 questions
- 10 minutes to complete it
This one is pretty tough because the time pressure is even higher, 10 questions in 10 minutes.
You are presented with a sequence of abstract charts and images and you quickly need to find which one is the next in the series. It’s most likely that you’ve done such tests before, some people actually come to enjoy these tests, others can’t stand it. But this helps EPSO test candidates on their Abstract Reasoning abilities.
Some people tend to be really good in Verbal and Abstract, others are Numerical Reasoning stars. Out of the three there is usually one where you are very strong and one where you are weak. So it’s good to evaluate and focus on the area you need the most improvement.
4. LANGUAGE COMPREHENSION
And then comes number four which is a relatively new kind of test, Language Comprehension.
- Administered in Language 1
- 12 questions
- 25 minutes to complete it
Again, not incredibly difficult. It’s essentially 2 minutes per question. It’s a Language Comprehension test in the sense that it’s not Verbal Reasoning, they won’t try to trick you. IT’s not so much based on reasoning, this is a linguistic test, the kind you would take if you were to sit an Oxford language fluency exam, or other similar language tests which get you a certificate if you pass.
There is verbal reasoning in the sense that you need to understand the text passage, you need to understand what is true and false, but it’s about finding the right word and its meaning. It’s truly about your vocabulary and understanding of the language you’re reading in, and not so much about the logic.
Like what is the meaning of the word ‘expatiate’? It’s not ‘expatriate’, which is how I read it first, but there is no ‘r’. :) I think ‘expatiate’ means to explain something in a very detailed manner.
Also, it’s about what a given text is trying to explain to you and understanding the broad concepts, for example ‘What does the author think…?’.
This test is also in Language 1. I’m emphasising this now, because you’ll see this type of test coming back in the next phase as well.
So what we have here is the Verbal, Numerical and Abstract Reasoning, and the Language Comprehension and the pass marks are what you see here:
The good news for this particular competition is that the Numerical and Abstract Reasoning scores are combined. So if you are really terrible with Numerical Reasoning but you are okay with Abstract Reasoning you can still pass. You can get 0 points in Numerical Reasoning and 8 points for Abstract and you can still pass. This might be a big relief to many of you lawyers who are very good at regulations, precedents and case law, but not so good when it comes to numbers.
For Verbal Reasoning you need to have 10/20 and then you have Language Comprehension where the pass mark is relatively high. You can see that it is 8 out of 12. You need to reach this relatively high score which is over 50%. Make sure that you really master this test. If the language you pick for Language 1 is one that you speak fluently then you’ll probably do just fine. You may want to practice, just a couple, to get familiar with the interface, the length of the test, the time pressure and the style of questions. Once you’ve done that you’ll probably be okay. Just make sure you are familiar with all four of these types of tests and then focus on the area where you feel you need the most improvement.
The interesting thing here is that reaching the pass mark is enough. There’s no true competition in the classic sense among candidates. As long as you reach the pass mark, the ones indicated above, 10 for Verbal, 8 for the combination of Numerical and Abstract Reasoning and 8 for Language Comprehension, once you’ve reached these scores you’re good, you will pass to the next phase. You will not be ranked and compared to other candidates at this point. You don’t need to be among the top performing candidates, all you need to do is pass.
Step 3 - INTERMEDIATE TEST (44:20)
What about the next step? Once you’ve taken the CBTs and you get the good news in your EPSO account that ‘We’re happy to let you know that you have passed to the next stage’, the next stage is the so-called Intermediate Test.
There’s no more E-tray exercise, there’s no more Situational Judgement Test, all of these have been discontinued or at least are not being used in this particular competition.
The Intermediate Test is a...
1. Language Comprehension Test!
Again. But this time in Language 2.
- Administered in Language 2
- 12 questions
- 25 minutes to complete it
It’s pretty much the same idea. You get a text passage, you will be asked about vocabulary, what it means, the general meaning and your understanding. The pass mark here is slightly lower than in the first test: 6 out of 12. Which means a 50% requirement. It’s pretty doable.
Again, the pass mark is enough, and it will not count towards your final score. This is just something you have to do, you just have to demonstrate your linguistic skills in that particular language, but a pass mark is enough. What about the next test. It’s still part of the intermediate test phase:
2. Field-Related Multiple Choice Questions
- Administered in Language 2
- 40 questions
- 60 minutes to complete it
You had the Language Comprehension, and then you have a Field-Related MCQ (multiple choice questions).
Field-related means this is where your EU law knowledge becomes important. By this point in the competition you should be very much up-to-date on EU law matters. In practical terms an exam preparation methodology is that you don’t need to start learning about EU law right now, obviously it’s very beneficial if you’re willing to do that and refresh your Craig & de Burca, or whichever textbook you may want to use. You could look at the most recent case law of the European Court of Justice and look at the basics of EU legal principles, and anything that is related. However, it’s not until this point in the competition when you will really need to be at the top of your game.
When will this exam be? Let me guess… If we assume everything goes according to plan, and the virus does not disrupt the schedule, then 15th of September is the application deadline, the first round of pre-selection will likely be around mid-October, the intermediate phase may be in late November or maybe even sometime in December. Again, this is a very rough estimate with no hard data to back it up. So, by December you should pretty much be up to speed on EU Law, at the latest, although it might be pushed to January. But at least this gives you a rough idea of how to plan your preparation.
The pass mark here is 20 out of 40, so you need to have at least 50%. Here, actually, it is not enough just to pass. Here is where the real competition comes in. You need to be among the top scoring candidates in order to pass to the next phase. It’s not enough to have only 20 points, for instance, but you may need to get 30-35 because the competition at this point will be pretty fierce. My guess is that if you aim for 35 points that’s very ambitious and will most likely grant you the opportunity to pass to the next stage. Again, this is a rough estimate and it all depends on how well prepared the other candidates are.
For example if they ask a question about some completely unheard of case law, or legal issue, and no other candidate is able to answer that question then you are all in the same boat. But everyone is coming from a very diverse background, despite it having a degree in EU Law, so you never know who might perform better or worse.
I will take a look at a couple of questions now:
Will Language Comprehension be linked to legal vocabulary?
I don’t think so. I don’t think that they will ask what an ‘interlocutory junction’ is. :) That was a term many years ago that I had to translate as a budding lawyer-linguist and nobody really knew what that term actually meant. Most probably the Language Comprehension test will not be linked to legal vocabulary because it will most likely be the same pool of questions that they are using for other competitions. Therefore, they will probably not develop a separate test just for this competition.
Are the field-related questions the same as the CAST FG4 Law questions?
I wouldn’t say they will be exactly the same, there may be some similarities and overlap because the CAST FG4 exams are pretty much the same level as an AD5 lawyer. But I have no idea or any way of knowing whether they use the same database of questions.
How’s the work-life balance for EU officials? Is it attractive?
This is a fascinating question and can’t answer in full detail now, but it depends where you are. If you are in DG Competition then the workload tends to be extremely heavy where you’re dealing with the tech sector, or energy and environment issues and the competition aspects of it. Whereas other departments and other Commission DGs may have less of a workload, so it really depends on the kind of job you do.
Is the level of the CBT exams slightly easier than the Generalist AD5 exams?
I don’t think it’s going to be easier. I don’t think it’s going to be more difficult either. Since it’s AD5, the level is the same. There is impact on the difficulty of the tests if it’s AD5 vs. AD7, but that is not the case here. And to clarify, this is for the pre-selection Computer-based Tests.
STEP 4 - APPLICATION PROCESS
If you get this far, that is great, because then you are just one step away from being placed on the Reserve List. Approximately 3 times the number of candidates sought via this competition will be invited. We saw that there will be 104 candidates on the Reserve List in the end, therefore roughly 300-315 candidates will be invited to the Assessment Centre, which takes place in Brussels using Language 2.
You’ll be required to go to Brussels, they’ll cover your travel expenses up to a certain point, based on a flat rate and certain indicators. It is essentially a series of tests and exams on one given day. There are four types of exercises:
1. Role Play 1 & 2
This is relatively new, and this used to be the Group Exercise. You will probably be given a mandate or a position to represent. For example, you may get the role of a lawyer in the Secretary General of the European Commission. The other person may get the role of lawyer in the Legal Service of the European Commission. Another role may be legal advisor in the European Parliament. These would be the roles and you as a group need to discuss, perhaps even negotiate certain legal questions around a given issue.
There are two of these during the Assessment Centre.
2. Competency-Based Interview (53:16)
This is pretty classic. This is where they ask you questions about situations from your past. For example, ‘Tell me about a situation where you had to endure a lot of stress’, which is a question aimed at testing your Resilience. The Competency-based interview is not a job interview. They are looking at certain competencies like Communication, Working with Others, Delivering Quality & Results, and Accuracy.
3. Oral Presentation
For the Oral Presentation you are given a briefing, some time to prepare and then you have to cover the given subject. You will be given a white board to use. You have very little time to read the briefing, only 10-15 minutes after which you have to stand up and present to the Selection Board members, who then will ask you questions based on the file you presented on. This is a very challenging exercise, but you can practice for this. We have many courses available, virtual as well as in-person in Brussels at our training centre, we also have a webinar on this, as well as personal coaching available.
4. Written Test in the Field
This used to be called the Case Study. Based on background materials you will be given you will be required to draft perhaps a legal memo, a submission or a specific analysis on a legal matter.
ASSESSMENT CENTRE SCORING
There are 8 competencies that you are evaluated on, which are publicly known, like Leadership, Communication, Resilience, Working with Others, etc. Each one is worth 10 points. You need to get at least 40 points out of 80.
For the Written Test in the Field you can get a maximum of 100 points but to pass you need at least 50 points.
This is pretty tough. By the time you get to this stage of the competition I advise you to take it really very seriously because you are very close to succeeding. Pay attention to the methodology, the actual substance of EU legal knowledge, and everything that it entails so that you can eventually get on the Reserve List. Only those with the highest overall scores will get on the list. This is where the true competition comes back, you need to get a lot of points.
SUCCESS! RESERVE LIST
We know there are 104 places on the Reserve List. Once you are on it the validity is usually one year, but it could be longer if there are still many people left on it that have not been hired. And this is where the actual Recruitment happens.
HOW TO GET THE JOB?
Practice! Practice a lot! We usually advise 3-4 months (10-12) weeks practice. As an analogy look at it like a sports competition preparation. How much you need to prepare depends on what condition you’re in currently. If you are any actively practicing lawyer who deals with these matters a lot and you’re very good at numerical reasoning, you’re an Abstract Reasoning master and your Language Comprehension skills are just fascinating then you probably need less practice. But if you’ve never dealt with any of these types of tests I advise you to take it pretty seriously
We suggest studying for one hour per day or ten hours per week. Make yourself a plan - that’s pretty much the most important piece of advice. Be very deliberate, very conscious about your preparation.
Learn the methodology. There is a specific way in which you can master these tests. And, as I said before, it’s often the speed. To get speed, you need technique. It’s a little bit like cycling, maybe, or skiing, any sport where speed is of the essence. There’s a lot of methodology out there, and we have E-books, webinars and an incredible amount of free articles. If you want to go deeper we have paid services. Make sure to take advantage of all these materials, everything is there on EU Training.
Persistence is key! This is a fundamental factor. Don’t give up!
We are here to help you. Ask us questions, send us emails, we’re really happy to provide guidance. We’ll always be very honest. If we don’t know something we’ll tell you. But most questions we are able to answer. : ) We have all the resources for you:
Verbal Reasoning - 19 LANGUAGES!
Language Comprehension - 13 LANGUAGES!
Free - Beginner's Guide Webinars:
Beginner’s Guide To The EPSO Verbal Reasoning Test
Beginner’s Guide To The EPSO Numerical Reasoning Test
Beginner’s Guide To The EPSO Abstract Reasoning Test
Beginner’s Guide To The EPSO Organising & Prioritising Test
Pro Tips Webinars:
Pro Tips For The EPSO Verbal Reasoning Test
Pro Tips For The EPSO Numerical Reasoning Test
Pro Tips For The EPSO Abstract Reasoning Test
Pro Tips For The EPSO Organising & Prioritising Test
Maths Refresher For Numerical Reasoning
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Learn from their experiences
Any indication of when the Assessment Centre will take place?
My guess is possibly Spring 2021, or maybe earlier on in February / March 2021. Again this is a rough estimate and we’ll see how things develop.
Field-related test - what top percentage do you estimate?
I think I already answered this, but I think roughly 35 out of 40 points will likely get you to the next stage.
What is the level of difficulty for the questions on the Field-related test? Is it higher or similar to CAST Law?
I would guess that it might be slightly more difficult. AD Law tests are often not very easy. The bar is relatively high when it comes to an open competition in a field such as law.
What is the percentage of laureates on the Reserve List who actually get a job posting?
This is a really good question. It’s not 100%. Full transparency - not everyone who is on the Reserve List will land a job. But often it’s because of the candidates. Now you might be in a situation where your dream job is to get into the Institutions, but in nine months you may have moved to Argentina to open a steak restaurant and you no longer want to be an EU lawyer. Personal situations change, life is constantly changing, and therefore, not everyone who makes it onto the list will get a job.
But there’s certainly demand and there’s a reason why they open these competitions, EPSO asks the Institutions about their personnel needs. By and large, whoever wants to get a job once they are on the Reserve List does end up getting one. It might take a little longer, but it happens. Actually, there is a webinar on our website: How to Get An EU Job from the Reserve List. Once you actually get to that point, check out that webinar and that will help you with some practical ideas.
THANK YOU FOR PARTICIPATING
With that, please remember to share this presentation, all the resources and information available here with friends, or anyone you might think is interested in this competition. Ask us questions, reach out, get in touch with us, we’re very happy to help you.
Thank you so much for joining me during your lunch time if you’re in a Central or Western European time zone. It’s much appreciated.
Good luck for the competition! And I hope to see you in Brussels, in person as an EU Official fairly soon.