2021 Administrators (AD7) and Anti-Fraud Investigators & Experts EPSO Exams - Information Webcast | EU Training

2021 Administrators (AD7) and Anti-Fraud Investigators & Experts EPSO Exams - Information Webcast

This is the complete recording and presentation of the 2021 Administrators (AD7) and Anti-Fraud Investigators & Experts EPSO Exams - Information Webcast

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Transcript - click here

You can access the profiles to apply here...

ADMINISTRATORS EPSO COMPETITION (EPSO/AD/395/21)

INVESTIGATORS / EXPERTS EPSO COMPETITION (EPSO/AD/394/21)

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Webcast TRANSCRIPT

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ABOUT EU TRAINING
WHERE WILL YOU WORK?
APPLICATION
ARE YOU ELIGIBLE?
WHY IS THIS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY?
HOW TO GET ONE OF THESE JOBS
RESERVE LIST
HOW TO GET THE JOB?
QUESTIONS PLEASE

INTRODUCTION

INTRO - Introduction, greetings and sound check (00:00-00:04:10)

Presenter: Andras Baneth - EU Training co-founder, author of Europe’s best-selling prep book The Ultimate EU Test Book, Co-author of THe Ultimate EU Test Book - Assessment Centre edition and Former EU Official

Welcome to this info session that we here at EU Training are providing regarding these two very exciting competitions. After quite some time here is a wonderful opportunity for you to get an EU career, and not just on any level but on AD7 and even AD9 level. Which, as I’ll describe, are somewhat more senior administrative levels and require more responsibility. AD9 is Head of Unit level. These are great opportunities that I strongly recommend you take seriously, provided you have the right profile and the right expertise, because these will give you a great chance for a very serious and long term EU career.

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ABOUT EU TRAINING

We here at EU Training are proud to be the providers of all the preparation resources you’ll ever need for these European Personnel Selection exams. Just a few words about us:

OUR COMMUNITY

  • We have a very diverse and robust community of past candidates and those interested in European careers, counting over Over 100,000 registered users who’ve come into contact with us or have used our services. Hundreds, if not thousands of them are now EU officials which is something that makes us really proud.
  • There’s also a great community on Facebook. If you are on Facebook you might want to join certain EPSO exam groups, including these two competitions which have their own Facebook groups. These groups are something you might want to consider because a lot of information gets shared, rumours, updates and resources too. 

TEST PACKAGES

  • These are  test packages that you might want to check out:
  • We have over 25,000 questions in our database which includes a host of languages and test types that EPSO might require.
  • We have had over 17 million combinations of these test questions used over time, which I really find an impressive number.

WEBINARS

  • Along with that we have a number of webinars that you might want to check out, a large number of which are completely free of charge, others have a price tag.
  • We have presented these, the live and the recorded versions, to over several thousand candidates. 

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WHERE WILL YOU WORK? (07:45)

Perhaps the very first practical question you may ask yourself, because it also impacts your decision whether or not to apply, is where will you end up working? Not just in terms of institutions but also in terms of geographic locations.

Perhaps the very first practical question you may ask yourself, because it also impacts your decision whether or not to apply, is where will you end up working?

Not just in terms of institutions but also in terms of geographic locations.

PLACE OF WORK

The answer is pretty straightforward: Brussels. Both competitions are linked to OLAF, the European Anti-Fraud Office which is located in Brussels on Rue Joseph II, if you’re interested and you’ve not yet had the chance to OLAF’s premises or at least pass by it. That’s where you will work, unless OLAF has some other offices in the area, but it’s definitely Brussels where those successful in these competitions will be recruited.

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APPLICATION (08:35)

One important caveat I always make is whatever information I share with you here is not the official information. We do our utmost to be as accurate and up-to-date as possible. But the authentic, formally binding source of information is the Notice of Competition. When EPSO and the Institutions publish these Notice of Competitions they appear in the EU’s official journal. Part of the reason we do these webinars is to decode the NoC and dig a little deeper into the official information to present that information in a way that will make your life easier and make the application process more clear.

POSITIONS AVAILABLE

It’s already communicated upfront how many positions are available. This is something found in the notice of competition, we have taken that information and reproduced it for you here.

There are two levels AD7 and AD9. For those of you who may not be familiar with the institutional administrative systems, AD7 is not beginner level. Those who are recent graduates, have the right qualifications and university degrees can start at AD5 level. That is the entry grade as they would say. It would usually take roughly six years to reach AD7 level if you had been recruited as AD5. This gives you an idea that this is a more senior level position. Because of this they require a certain number of years of work experience, and qualifications. In terms of responsibilities and in terms of administrative level, and obviously, in terms of salary, this is a very attractive position. AD9 in administrative terms qualifies you to be a head of unit, it’s a managerial position, but in this particular case they do not require managerial experience, despite the high grade here it’s not about being a manager or team leader. Let’s look at what exactly is being offered:

EPSO/AD/394/21 ANTI-FRAUD INVESTIGATORS & EXPERTS COMPETITION

  • Anti-fraud investigations and operations in EU expenditure and anti-corruption
    • Investigators AD7 - 35 places
    • Experts AD9 - 9 places
  • Anti-fraud investigations and operations in customs & trade, tobacco & counterfeit goods
    • Investigators AD7 - 15 places
    • Experts AD9 - 9 places

This competition covers two grades and two fields - you can only apply to ONE GRADE & FIELD

How might you approach this dilemma if it’s really a dilemma in terms of your profile and background? You probably want to make sure that there is no doubt about you qualifying for your chosen profile. Meaning you have the work experience, you have the required qualifications, that there is absolutely no doubt about your profile that may lead to a disqualification. That’s perhaps your first consideration. The second one is certainly trying to guess your chances. Which is certainly difficult because you don’t know at the time of application how many people will actually apply. You could guess based on the description, based on your experience in a given field. It is certainly an important factor because you want to maximise your chances of success. You want to make sure that you end up on the reserve list and you will be eligible for recruitment. To do that you probably want to pick a field where there are more places, just like the first profile AD7, where there are 35 places. But then again it might mean more people are thinking the same way as you are and proportionally speaking there will be more applicants, therefore your chances might be lower. In psychology they call this the ‘prisoner’s dilemma’. You are trying to anticipate what the other candidates might be thinking and then you adjust your own decision accordingly. I cannot give you with any certainty any final answer, but these are good questions to ask yourself - do I have the luxury and do I have the interest to choose from these fields? Maybe my profile, my background and my personal motivation, interests essentially only qualify me for one of these profiles, so I will choose that. If you have the luxury of choosing from multiple profiles then these are the questions you will be asking yourself. Moving on to the next competition…

EPSO/AD/395/21 ADMINISTRATORS COMPETITION

This is AD7 level only, there is no AD9 for this competition.

  • Anti-fraud investigations and operations in EU expenditure and anti-corruption
    • Digital Forensics - 20 places
    • Operational & Strategic Analysis - 20 places

This competition covers two fields and you can ONLY APPLY TO ONE FIELD.

Between the two separate competitions you can apply for both because there is no formal rule that you cannot apply for both, provided you have the right background and the right profile. The limitations apply within each separate competition. So if you can, and you qualify, then that may somewhat increase your chances of success.

APPLY BEFORE 9 NOVEMBER 2021

That is a hard deadline. There is no negotiation. There is no way to extend it. Make sure to send in your application on time and not leave it to the last moment when computers might crash, last minute emergencies happen, etc… Make sure that you take it very seriously. You can start your application much much sooner than the deadline. You can then save it and not have to do everything in one go. But make sure to spend sufficient time on filling out all the paperwork, digitally speaking ‘paperwork’, then send it in well before the deadline. By the way, this deadline applies for both competitions.

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ARE YOU ELIGIBLE?(11:10)

The main question for most candidates in most competitions is - Are you eligible? Do you qualify for this particular competition? Eligibility usually refers to your formal qualifications, the degree, the diploma that you may have and work experience, both the number of years you have worked and the relevance of that work experience, and how that relates to the topics that will be covered as an EU official in that capacity. That is basically what EPSO and the Selection Board are evaluating through these various checks and tests that you will be subjected to.

GENERAL CONDITIONS

These are the same for every EU competition.

  • You must have EU citizenship, meaning you have a passport from one of the 27 member states.
  • You need to have completed military service, if that’s a formal requirement in your country. There aren’t so many that require military service in Europe. Just a handful currently, as far as I know. Make sure yours is completed or you have a formal exemption from the service.
  • Meet the character requirements of the job, which I would guess that in this competition is even more important given the highly confidential and sensitive nature of all of these jobs. I’m guessing, but you might be required in certain roles to undergo security clearance, or they may pay extra attention to have the documents that prove you do not have a criminal background.

LANGUAGE RULES

Nothing new here. If I compare this competition to the others that have been launched in the last few months then the language rules follow the classic formula according to which there is a Language and a Language.

LANGUAGE 1

  • One of the EU’s 24 official languages (minimum C1 level)
  • It’s not necessarily the same as your mother tongue, because even if you hold a French passport, lived all your life in France, your parents may have spoken Russian at home. Unfortunately you cannot use that as Language 1 because Russian is not one of the official languages.
  • But then again, it is not linked to your passport. For example I am Hungarian, but I could choose English as Language 1 or any other languages I might speak, or Hungarian for that matter, as long as it is one of those 24.

LANGUAGE 2

This is very important:

  • Must be English OR French and different from Language 1.
  • Minimum B2 level

Irrespective of which language you might be speaking as such and what your passport predetermines you to speak , you can choose either of those two languages here, as long as you are able to express yourself and communicate in those languages.

This becomes an important decision because the specific exams you need to sit in the course of this competition will be administered in Language 1 or Language 2. Most of them will actually be in Language 2.

One general piece of advice that I often give is when you are deciding which language to choose, assuming you have the luxury of being a polyglot, you probably want to choose a language 2 in which you can express yourself with greatest ease. For example, if your written and spoken expression is better in French, then probably that’s what you should choose as Language 2. Whereas Language 1 is used for fewer exams and it’s somewhat less important in the exams of the EPSO competition itself. Language 2 becomes the most important choice that you need to make.

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Next let’s look at the very specific criteria. There are quite a bit of variations and permutations so we will go through that momentarily. But before I do I see there are some questions coming in.

Q: If an applicant has recently passed the CAST Function Group IV multiple choice tests is it necessary to sit those tests again?
A: Those of you who may not be fully familiar with it - there are separate tracks independent of these competitions called CAST, that’s Contract Agent Specific Task. These are contracts and positions which require you to sit Abstract, Verbal and Numerical Reasoning tests and an additional one related to the field of your choice. Many candidates here may have taken those tests. So the question relates to whether or not you need to take those tests again, or can the results be used for this competition. The answer is you cannot duplicate it. Every competition is administered separately from the previous ones. Even if you got very high scores in other competitions, this is a completely separate story and starts from scratch and you need to sit each phase separately again. Obviously, if you have experience taking these tests, or you have mastered these particular tests, that will serve you well. But you still need to take these exams separately.

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QUALIFICATIONS & WORK EXPERIENCE

Going back now, let’s take a look at the criteria for this competition. What sort of qualifications do you need to have?

EPSO/AD/394/21

FIELD 1: Anti-Fraud Investigations and Operations in EU Expenditure and Anti-Corruption

ANTI-FRAUD INVESTIGATOR AD7

  • Completed university studies of at least four years with a diploma
    PLUS
    A minimum of six years relevant professional experience as an investigator, police officer or other professional carrying out investigations targeting financial crime, public corruption or ensuring the defence of public financial interests.

The diploma here probably means a master’s, an MA level qualification. Referring back to my earlier comments about the AD7 position which is two levels up from AD5, and each level takes roughly three years of work experience, hence this requirement of six years work experience. If you have worked in the institutions at an AD5 level then it would also take you six years to get to the AD7 level. In this case, when you are immediately hired on AD7 level then the requirement is six years of relevant experience. That often becomes a tricky thing. Some of you may have worked in the fraud area or in a state administration or public prosecutor’s office or in law enforcement or in a judicial setting, and deciding whether your work experience is considered relevant can be somewhat subjective in some cases. Who decides that? The Selection Board, which is comprised of EU officials, sometimes trade union representatives from inside the institutions or staff representatives. In any case it is a panel that will look at your work experience and decide whether it is relevant. You do want to do everything in your power, while being 100% truthful and ethical to present the information about your background in a way that convinces them that your experience is relative to the job. To do that there are certain techniques I will share with you in a bit when we start talking about the Talent Screener.

OR

  • Completed university studies of at least three years with a diploma
    PLUS
    A minimum of seven years relevant professional experience as an investigator, police officer or other professional carrying out investigations targeting financial crime, public corruption or ensuring the defence of public financial interests.

Here the diploma probably refers to a Bachelor’s, a BA. The relevant fields are listed here in relatively specific terms so you can decide if your experience fits into one of these categories.

ANTI-FRAUD EXPERT AD9

  • Completed university studies of at least four years with a diploma
    PLUS
    A minimum of ten years relevant professional experience in the field of activity carrying out investigations concerning fraud or irregularities detrimental to national or EU financial interests.

These ten years must comprise at least three years of professional experience in managing complex investigations (Such as: trans-border investigations, multi perpetrator investigations including at national level, complex modus operandi, very sensitive investigations, investigations in international environments).

OR

  • Completed university studies of at least three years with a diploma
    PLUS
    A minimum of eleven years relevant professional experience in the field of activity carrying out investigations concerning fraud or irregularities detrimental to national or EU financial interests.

These eleven years must comprise at least three years of professional experience in managing complex investigations (Such as: trans-border investigations, multi perpetrator investigations including at national level, complex modus operandi, very sensitive investigations, investigations in international environments).

There is additional information about what would qualify you, giving you specific indications:

  • For grades AD7 and AD9, candidates must have acquired their professional experience as investigator, police officer or other professional in a law enforcement agency or body, in the judiciary or the public administration of a Member State, in a European Union institution, agency or body or within the investigative part of an intergovernmental organisation or multinational corporation.
  • The professional experiences as investigator, police officer, or other professional, needs to be discernible from the candidate’s contract, job description or other relevant document.
  • The investigative tasks should be supported by job-related evidence.

Obviously, you need to be able to prove all of this. You cannot just make a declaration of honor, you need to have some sort of proof if and when you are asked for it. This can be difficult if you were dealing with highly sensitive investigations or if you left your previous employer not on the best terms. Either way, you need to have proper documentation to prove that you were not only employed for a certain period of time, but the kind of work that you did actually matches the requirements of the institutions.

FIELD 2: Anti-Fraud Investigations and Operations in Customs & Trade, Tobacco & Counterfeit Goods

The concepts, as you’ll see, are very similar, the topics are different.

FIELD 1: ANTI-FRAUD INVESTIGATOR AD7

  • Completed university studies of at least four years with a diploma
    PLUS
    A minimum of six years relevant professional experience as an investigator, police or customs officer or other professional investigating fraud or irregularities affecting the national or EU financial interests.

OR

  • Completed university studies of at least three years with a diploma
    PLUS
    A minimum of seven years relevant professional experience as an investigator, police or customs officer or other professional investigating fraud or irregularities affecting the national or EU financial interests.

The topic is different but the formal requirements and qualifications are pretty much the same.

FIELD 2: ANTI-FRAUD INVESTIGATOR AD9

  • Completed university studies of at least four years with a diploma
    PLUS
    A minimum of ten years relevant professional experience in this field of activity carrying out investigations concerning fraud or irregularities detrimental to national or EU interests.

These ten years must comprise at least three years of professional experience in managing complex investigations (Such as: trans-border investigations, multi perpetrator investigations including at national level, complex modus operandi, very sensitive investigations, investigations in international environments).

OR

  • Completed university studies of at least three years with a diploma
    PLUS
    A minimum of eleven years relevant professional experience in this field of activity carrying out investigations concerning fraud or irregularities detrimental to national or EU interests.

These eleven years must comprise at least three years of professional experience in managing complex investigations (Such as: trans-border investigations, multi perpetrator investigations including at national level, complex modus operandi, very sensitive investigations, investigations in international environments).

Here are a couple of indicators as to what sort of profiles and experience they are looking for:

  • For grades AD7 and AD9, candidates must have acquired their professional experience in customs services, in a law enforcement agency of a Member State or in an EU institution competent for investigating fraud and irregularities detrimental to the European Union’s or Member States’ financial interested or within the investigative part of an intergovernmental organisation or a multinational corporation.
  • The professional experiences as investigator, police officer, or other professional, needs to be stated as such in the candidate’s contract, job description or other relevant document.

FOR ALL GRADES AND FIELDS OF THIS COMPETITION, professional experience is only relevant if:

  • It was acquired AFTER the diploma was obtained
  • It is PROPERLY IDENTIFIED as investigative experience in the supporting documents (job description, employment contract, statutory link with the national or international administration).

If you did a summer internship or worked during your studies, meaning your basic formal university studies, then that time would NOT count towards your work experience.

You need to be able to truly demonstrate that you are not only employed by an organisation that has the formal profile of conducting investigations but your actual job profile is actually related to the work as well. For example, if you are in the communications department of the police force this will probably not qualify you for the competition despite having worked for an institution that is very relevant to the competition. You need to have the actual job content to be relevant for this competition.

Moving on to the next competition, as you’ll see the principles are pretty much the same. The job content is certainly different, but the way they calculate your relevant experience will be quite similar.

EPSO/AD/395/21

FIELD 1: Administrators in Digital Forensics AD7

  • Completed university studies of at least four years with a diploma as indicated in Annex 1
    PLUS
    A minimum of six years relevant professional experience as a digital forensics examiner in support of investigations targeting corruption and/or financial crime.

OR

  • Professional training/qualification equivalent to European Qualification Framework Level 7, and relevant to the duties as indicated in Annex 1, that is recognised by a Member State or public national/international body.
  • European Qualification Framework Level 7 is a professional training programme, which means it doesn’t need to be a university degree, but a formal and probably accredited qualification that makes you eligible for this job. If you don’t have a university degree in Ethical Hacking or Digital Forensics but you have a fully formalised education that you gained somewhere else, in an institution whose training programme is formally recognised that would qualify you for this profile as well, provided you have at least six years professional experience.
    PLUS
    A minimum of six years relevant professional experience as a digital forensics examiner in support of investigations targeting corruption and/or financial crime.

OR

  • Completed university studies of at least three years with a diploma as indicated in Annex 1
    PLUS
    A minimum of seven years relevant professional experience as a digital forensics examiner in support of investigations targeting corruption and/or financial crime.

OR

  • Professional training/qualification equivalent to European Qualification Framework Level 6, and relevant to the duties as indicated in Annex 1, that is recognised by a Member State or public national/international body.

PLUS
A minimum of seven years relevant professional experience as a digital forensics examiner in support of investigations targeting corruption and/or financial crime.

As you see the concept is very similar with a major difference being that an alternative education to university is also acceptable.

When it comes to what constitutes relevant experience and what sort of jobs they would consider as eligible they list specific qualifications:

  • Candidates must have proven experience with a wide range of forensic methods, including data carving and live forensics and, in particular, experience with the forensic acquisition and examination of data from mobile devices.
  • Candidates must also have proven practical experience with forensic tools such as X-Ways, FTK, Nuix, XRY, UFED.
  • In addition, the experience with the following tools would be an advantage: EnCase, Paraben, Greykey, Axiom, or similar tools.

This gives you a much more specific idea whether or not you should apply for this or not, and whether you would qualify.

FIELD 2: Administrators in Operational & Strategic Analysis AD7

  • Completed university studies of at least four years with a diploma as indicated in Annex 1
    PLUS
    A minimum of six years relevant professional experience as an analyst supporting investigations targeting corruption and/or financial crime or as a strategic analyst supporting anti-fraud policy

OR

  • Professional training/qualification equivalent to European Qualification Framework Level 7, and relevant to the duties as indicated in Annex 1, that is recognised by a Member State or public national/international body.

PLUS
A minimum of six years relevant professional experience as an analyst supporting investigations targeting corruption and/or financial crime or as a strategic analyst supporting anti-fraud policy

OR

  • Completed university studies of at least three years with a diploma as indicated in Annex 1
    PLUS
    A minimum of seven years relevant professional experience as an analyst supporting investigations targeting corruption and/or financial crime or as a strategic analyst supporting anti-fraud policy

OR

  • Professional training/qualification equivalent to European Qualification Framework Level 6, and relevant to the duties as indicated in Annex 1, that is recognised by a Member State or public national/international body.

PLUS
A minimum of seven years relevant professional experience as an analyst supporting investigations targeting corruption and/or financial crime or as a strategic analyst supporting anti-fraud policy

Giving you more indication as to the type of qualifications you’ll need:

  • Candidates must have proven experience of specific data analysis tools (Elasticsearch, i2suite, Intella, Maltego, Codebase, Zylab, MSSQL server or Oracle SQL), data visualisation/mapping tools (BO), strategic analysis software (Tableau) and/or programming languages and/or knowledge on natural language processing (NLP).
  • Candidates must also have proven practical experience in a wide range of analytical techniques (OSINT, social networks analysis, data and text mining, financial analysis, etc.) and/or experience with gathering, collation and analysis of quantitative/qualitative data for the purpose of strategic analysis.

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WHY IS THIS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY? (38:05)

Probably I don’t need to spend too much time on this. You more than likely would not be joining this call had you not been convinced that this would be a great career move. There are definitely many positive factors that would nudge you through the application process.

ATTRACTIVE SALARIES

  • On the EU Training site, eutraining.eu where you signed up for this webinar, you’ll find a free salary calculator. It gives you a very close indicator as to how much net monthly income you can expect to earn as an AD7 or AD9. There are many factors that the calculator takes into consideration, such as your family status, whether you’re married or not, whether you have kids or not, if you are relocating - all of these factors have an impact on your salary.
  • These salaries are very attractive. For an AD7 you can expect to earn roughly 6,000 euros net/month, which is a very good proposition.

GOOD BENEFITS

  • Aside from that are many benefits, for you and your family. There is health insurance and access to European Schools which are offered in many languages depending on your household’s main language.

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HOW TO GET ONE OF THESE JOBS? (39:50)

Let’s look at the very practical side of this competition, how do you actually get one of these jobs? What are the steps to take, what exams are you required to take?

STEP 1 - APPLICATION PROCESS

  • Eligibility declaration
  • Pick your Language 1 & 2
  • Submit the application in any of the 24 EU languages, on time! Before the 9th of November at noon Brussels time.
  • BUT the TALENT SCREENER needs to be filled out in either English or French

VALIDATE BY APPLICATION DEADLINE: 9 NOVEMBER 2021

WHAT IS THE TALENT SCREENER?

Some of you may have had the fortune or frustration of filling in the talent screener in the past if you’ve applied for other competitions. Those of you who may not be familiar with what that is let me give you a couple of ideas.

The Talent Screener is basically a question and answer formula, a survey of sorts. The Selection Board asks a number of questions that you need to answer in the greatest possible detail, without getting them lost in those details that you present them. You need to provide all the background information, professional experience, and all relevant information to demonstrate that you qualify for the competition. That you not only qualify, but you are a very relevant and suitable candidate.

HOW IS THE TALENT SCREENER SCORED?

Typically any question that they ask you would be worth 0-3 points. Again, this may vary from one competition to another, but it’s usually 0-2, 0-4, most commonly 0-3 points. Then, depending on how much your answers demonstrate the existence of a certain expertise, each of your answers will be scored, all of them get added up and they create a ranking among the suitable candidates.

HOW DO YOU MAXIMISE YOUR TALENT SCREENER SCORE?

We actually have a dedicated webinar on this very subject. It gives you tonnes of ideas on how to present information, your own professional experience in the best possible way. Obviously, you always want to remain truthful and only share information that you can prove. At the same time it is vital how you present that information: the sequence in which you build up the arguments, the layout - using bullets or numbering, ensuring your answer is highly relevant to the question being asked and there are a couple of other points which I’m going to share right now as a sort of teaser of the many tips shared in that dedicated webinar:

Here are a couple of tips:

  • Try to answer ‘YES’ as much as possible, but only if you can back it up with truthful and relevant information.
    • Obviously, you don’t want to bend the truth. If you don’t have a certain experience that they require then don’t answer yes. As long as you have some piece of information that proves a certain claim, e.g. that you worked with a certain software, that you worked on complex investigations - if you have good arguments then answer yes and persuade them why.
  • Concrete vs. Abstract answers - scores are based on hard evidence like facts, figures, places and dates.
    • A very common mistake candidates make is saying ‘I have a lot of experience in this field’ which is a very abstract statement and will not convince anyone of anything.
    • Be more specific: ‘I have six years and five months of experience in this field because I worked on this X investigation in country X, country Y, involving this very specific topic, dealing with international fraud, affecting 4.5 billion euros of state revenue.’
    • The more concrete the information and the more numbers and specifics you can provide the more persuasive your argument will be.
  • Provide lots of valuable information, but give only relevant and meaningful answers. Leave out space fillers.
    • Be very conscious and deliberate when presenting your information.
  • Do not copy / paste previous answers. You can use the same experience again if you can manage to present it from a different angle than before.
    • There are usually 8-10 questions in the Talent Screener and some of them may be very similar to each other.  Do NOT just copy / paste your answers for lack of time or lack of motivation to tailor your answers.
    • Make sure you restructure each answer, like changing the timeline, or highlighting different aspects of your experience to make your point.
  • Readability and clear communication will influence your assessors’ understanding of your professional background:
    • Use a structured layout with bullet points
    • Clear references
    • Short but to-the-point descriptions
    • It’s important how you segment information, in what order, that you use bullet points. The visual layout of your answers does have an impact on how the assessors, the Selection Board members, will score your answers.
  • EU institutions and EPSO are formal and terminology-driven. Learn the lingo and use it.
    • They have their own jargon that you want to get familiar with. Some jargon that you may use in Greece, Portugal or Sweden might be quite different from the jargon the EU institutions use. Maybe read OLAF’s annual report, check out their website, get a bit familiar with their mindset and the way they operate.
  • What’s in it for them…? Make sure to link your personal background and work experience with the needs of the EU institution you are applying to.
    • They are looking to hire their future colleagues, and even though EPSO only does the selection, not the actual recruitment, still  they are looking for people whose profile and experience is going to be relevant for the institutions.
    • Try to think about how a given experience you gained can be helpful towards the work OLAF and others deal with.
  • Last but not least, check out the webinar mentioned: “Everything You Need to Know About EPSO’s Talent Screener
    • If you really want to dig deep into this topic then I will share quite a lot of ideas, where we explore specific wording and specific text, and techniques, on how to, how not to, or what is a better way to formulate your message.

STEP 2 - TALENT SCREENER REVIEW

Will only be scored for those candidates that are deemed eligible as described under the section ‘Am I eligible to apply?’ in the Notice of Competition.

We offer this as a service as well, but the formal and official review of your Talent Screener happens as part of the competition. This is when the evaluators assess who gets to pass to the next stage and who doesn’t.

Those of you who are a bit more familiar with EPSO competitions, I’d like to call your attention to a very interesting fact, a very interesting development:

There’s no Computer-Based Tests as a pre-selection tool. Which means in the very early phase of the application process of the competition there used to be these multiple choice tests to help filter out candidates and to limit the number of those candidates whose profiles would then be assessed.

Now in these two particular competitions there’s no such pre-selection test. The tests will be given at a later stage. Just wanted to call your attention to it, because it is a change from past practices. Even the weight of these Abstract, Verbal and Numerical Reasoning tests is somewhat diminished, which is quite a big relief for many candidates. They are still there, you still need to pass with a good score but it’s not necessarily the test that is going to make or break your application.

STEP 3 - ASSESSMENT CENTRE

The Assessment Centre is a sequence of exams which used to happen in a single day in Brussels, but since covid this has changed and it is more spread out. It is still under one umbrella, one concept, and we’ll look at which tests that includes.

How many people are actually invited to the Assessment Centre?

  • Approximately three times the number of candidates sought for each field and grade will be invited. We can do the maths, it will be a couple of hundred candidates invited to the Assessment Centre.
  • It will be conducted in Language 1 & 2
  • It will be conducted either online or in-person, subject to Covid and other restrictions

I see someone is asking ‘What is step one?’ Step one is basically the application. Step two is the checking of the Talent Screener. And then comes Step three, for those who passed the Talent Screener evaluation with good scores will get to the Assessment Centre.

PRE-SELECTION CBT EXAM

This is when the candidates will have to sit the Computer-Based Tests, the CBTs:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Numerical Reasoning
  • Abstract Reasoning

Just to give you a snapshot, you can find examples on EPSO’s website, and on our website.

1. VERBAL REASONING

  • Administered in Language 1
  • 20 questions
  • 35 minutes to complete it

This is truly a logical reasoning test, where there is a statement and you need to find the correct answer. The timing is tight, but not impossible.

2. NUMERICAL REASONING

  • Administered in Language 1
  • 10 questions
  • 20 minutes to complete it

Again, this looks at logic, where you are presented with a chart that has numbers and figures then you need to find the correct answer.

3. ABSTRACT REASONING

  • Administered in Language 1
  • 10 questions
  • 10 minutes to complete it

This is a sequence of little drawings and little charts which move and turn according to a certain logic. This one has a very high time pressure, that’s one minute per question. It’s often a very difficult exercise for many people.

CBT SCORING

These three are the taken and the scores are calculated as follows:

  • VERBAL REASONING (0/20)
    • Pass mark: 10/20
  • NUMERICAL REASONING (0/10)
  • ABSTRACT REASONING (0/10)
    • Pass mark: the two above COMBINED 10/20

The interesting thing here is the candidates are not ranked according to their scores. Which means passing is sufficient enough. Therefore, if you have at least ten points in Verbal Reasoning, 0 in Numerical and then 10 in Abstract Reasoning - that’s good enough.

You need to attain the pass marks in this exam to be invited to sit the other Assessment Centre tests. Your CBT scores will NOT be added to your final Assessment Centre score.

ASSESSMENT CENTRE TASKS

What you are truly evaluated on in the Assessment Centre is the following

There are EIGHT GENERAL COMPETENCIES WHICH WILL BE TESTED THROUGH TWO EXERCISES:

  • Case Study
  • Competency-Based Interview (CBI), this is a structured interview where they will ask you about specific situations from your professional life that you need to present to the assessors. We do provide a lot of training for this. We have webinars, personal coaching for one-on-one, as well as group sessions, either in person in Brussels or online.
    • These will be done in Language 2

FIELD-RELATED COMPETENCIES WILL BE ASSESSED BY ONE EXERCISE:

  • Field-Related Interview in Language 2

Here is where they will test you on your professional background, often based on your Talent Screener answers. Then in relation to your professional profile they will ask you specific questions to test your knowledge and the application of your knowledge in your specific field.

ASSESSMENT CENTRE SCORING

Those exams are what will eventually give you your Assessment Centre score. So you need to have the following:

EIGHT GENERAL COMPETENCIES

  • Pass mark 40/80
  • Each competency is worth max 10 points

FIELD-RELATED INTERVIEW

  • Pass mark 50/100

Certainly there is a pass mark but you need to pass with very high scores because the candidates will be ranked and that’s when they establish the Reserve List.

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SUCCESS! RESERVE LIST(54:00)

With that, you get to the end of the process and if you succeed you get on the Reserve List.

  • Number of places - the number of candidates placed on the Reserve List, that's the number we had talked about earlier.
  • Validity - typically it has a validity of one year. But, since this is a specialist competition, it can be extended
  • Recruitment - and the above mentioned time frame during which you can and hopefully will be hired, when the recruitment actually happens.

Just quickly another plug for another webinar that I did some time ago, it’s called 'How To Get An EU Job From The Reserve List’. In this webinar I share ideas about how you can lobby for specific positions, I advise you on how to present yourself and how to apply for open positions once you are on the Reserve List.

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HOW TO GET THE JOB? (56:00)

  • Practice. A lot. - take it seriously!
    • Practice consistently for 10-12 weeks.
    • Understand each phase of the competition
  • Prepare consistently.
    • Whether it’s for one hour a day or 10 hours per week, as long as it’s regular and you are serious about it, that's really the most important.
  • Learn the methodology.
    • We have a lot of webinars and  e-books that you can find on our website.
    • If you are overwhelmed with the information send us an email and will provide the best resource for you depending on the competition you’re sitting.
  • Persistence is key!
    • You might want to form a study group, speak with friends and prepare together, motivate each other.
  • Do lots of test simulations!

We’re here for you. EU Training offers all the materials and training resources you need.

SIMULATED PRACTICE TESTS

  • We’re really proud that we can offer Verbal Reasoning tests in all 24 LANGUAGES of the EU!
  • Numerical Reasoning
  • Abstract Reasoning
  • Case Study Simulations + Evaluation
  • CBI Workshops 

Here is an indicative list of webinars that are available, along with E-books and all the rest.

WEBINARS

  • 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

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

Others:

A WEALTH OF RESOURCES:

We try to cover the full spectrum of preparation.

JOIN AN EPSO COMMUNITY

BOOKS

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QUESTIONS PLEASE (56:55)

Q:  I see that many of you are asking specific questions about your situations whether you would qualify or not. 
A: Obviously at this point I cannot answer those questions, even if I had a lot of time on my hands and you send us a message. We will try to give you our perspective, but my advice is to read the Notice of Competition very carefully then look at your own experience in very critical terms. Imagine you are an EPSO Selection Board member and you were to present yourself as a candidate, think about what information in your application they might challenge. Only consider the experience that is bullet proof that will not challenge the requirements of the competition. 

Q: Is it possible to apply even if you belong to a different field just to get familiarised with the competition process?
A: You can always apply, but you’re taking the risk of being disqualified because of lack of experience. But there is no black list or penalty or negative consequence to you applying and not qualifying. As long as you stick to the rules and you remain fully transparent providing only truthful information then there is no downside to applying. It’s up to you if you want to spend that time applying knowing that you will not qualify. But as long as you apply in one field and grade in one competition, as long as you follow all the rules, then fine, yes, you do gain experience and exposure in applying which is something you may be able to use to your benefit at a later stage.

Q: Do you know if there is an OLAF manual available for the field interview? 
A:  I would presume that there are rules of procedure, or the way OLAF conducts investigations, parliamentary resolutions, or the law that established OLAF in the first place and other operational manuals should certainly be available to some extent online as public information. For that phase you could certainly do some research to find these documents and legal texts to get familiar with them. Although, the field interview is just as much relevant to your own professional background and the things that you’ve done in that framework. They might ask you questions about how you would resolve a situation based on your expertise. It’s not necessarily a test on how well you know OLAF’s modus operandi. It certainly helps you to put things into context and it probably adds to the quality of your replies, but it’s not what the field interview is focused on. 

Q: What is the risk of a successful candidate being put on the Reserve List and then not getting a job at OLAF given that the EUropean Public Prosecutor's Office is gradually taking over OLAF functions?
A: As to how the EPPO compares to OLAF whether you will get a job or not, the institutions and in this particular instance certainly OLAF had in depth conversations with EPSO and they determined how many vacancies they are seeking to fill. Having that number of places on the Reserve List that will be available for candidates should all be available as jobs. They will not create a Reserve List for nothing and as long as there are enough candidates who are willing to take the job if it is offered then those candidates will be hired. I don’t see any particular risk, especially not something that should discourage you from applying.

Q: Is there an age limit for the application? Do people aged 50+ have less possibility?
A: I do not think so. The institutions are quite keen on being equal opportunity employers. Especially with AD7 and AD9 posts there will certainly be many candidates with far more experience than what is formally required. I would encourage you to apply. As long as you go through each of the steps, follow the rules then I do not see any chance of discrimination or lesser chance of being hired. These are positions that require very high levels of responsibility, a lot of expertise, you need time to gain that expertise. I don’t see any risk here.

Q: How long does the overall selection usually run from beginning to end?
A:  It often takes nine months and up to even a year. I know this piece of information may not make you particularly happy. It’s a long process going through each of these steps. Just be realistic about what to expect and how to allocate your time and resources in the next few months. Make sure you keep working and gaining experience in the meantime. Don’t put all your cards on this. But do pay a lot of attention and be very dedicated. It will take time until the process runs through to the end and especially until possible recruitment happens.

Q: If you are overqualified is that an issue?
A:  Not at the stage of selection. At this stage being overqualified is not an issue as long as you have the minimum criteria. If you have more than that it does not impact your chances for better or worse. 

When it comes to the actual recruitment part, once you are on the Reserve List and you are applying for a specific job, perhaps it will be an issue. But then again, it depends on what your overqualification means. In most cases if you give good reasons and you’re motivated to take up a post that should not really be a problem. 

 

THANK YOU FOR PARTICIPATING

Thanks so much for listening and for being here!

I wish you good luck! Tell your colleagues who may be interested in this webinar and share the resources with them. But if you are keen on minimising the number of competitors I completely understand that too. Then keep the information to yourself.

I hope this gave you some good ideas and you are now more motivated than before to apply . Make sure to pay attention to all of the details and I'm sure you will succeed.

For free advice: support@support.eutraining.eu

I appreciate your time, good luck for the exam and when you succeed let us know, we will be happy to share your joy!

(PLEASE NOTE: The official source of information on EU competitions is the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO). We at EU Training, however, do everything in our power to provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information possible based on the official documents from EPSO.)