This is the complete recording and presentation of the 2021 Administrators in Data Protection EPSO Exams - Information Webcast.
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Transcript Quick Links
INTRO - Introduction, greetings and sound check (00:00-0:6:30)
Presenter: Andras Baneth (EU Training co-founder, author of The Ultimate EU Test Book, co-author of The Ultimate EU Test Book - Assessment Centre edition, former EU Official
ABOUT EU TRAINING
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Today is a great milestone, a very important day in our company’s history, and perhaps for candidates like yourselves. As of today we have Verbal Reasoning tests in 24 languages! Every single EU official language is now available on our website.
WHERE WILL YOU WORK? (06:00)
This is the EPSO competition for Data Protection officials. A minor note - but still an important aspect - you may be wondering where you may end up working. The simple answer to that is most likely Brussels, perhaps Luxembourg. I’d say most likely Brussels, given that the Commission, the European Data Protection Supervisor, Council of Ministers and most institutions that would employ Future Data Protection officials are located in Brussels. But there’s also a chance that your place of work will be Luxembourg depending on the need of the institutions.
Here’s the full list of potential employers after you have passed the selection competitions:
- European Commission
- European Parliament
- Council of the European Union
- European Court of Justice
- European Data Protection Supervisor
- European Economic & Social Committee
One important point I often mention is the difference between selection and recruitment. What EPSO does is selection. They are the ones who administer the competitions to make sure that they create the ‘Reserve List’ with eligible candidates, at that point called laureates.
Once you are on the Reserve List, the selection part has ended and the recruitment begins. That is when you can start applying for specific vacancies that the institutions would have. In that case you would send your CV or find out where there is a vacancy which is often published in your EPSO account or EPSO profile. There are other ways to find these, we actually have a dedicated webinar about that. Once you get to that point you are at a different stage of the competition.
What we are focusing on today is the selection process so you can end up being placed on the Reserve List.
This is only decided at the moment of recruitment, as you may have guessed, because, it’s not yet known which institutions have vacancies or want to employ a certain number of Data Protection officials, but they have given an indication to EPSO how many people they are altogether looking, so they have a certain number, it’s a fixed number, it’s in the Notice of Competition, the number of places on the Reserve List they want to fill up with suitable candidates.
Let’s look at the application process and what it entails.
This is the number:
- 76 places - Grade AD6
Some of you may be new to EU competitions and EU jobs and may wonder if that’s a lot or that’s a little. Actually, that’s a pretty good number. Some competitions may only have 5 to 15 places on the Reserve List, which calls for a fierce competition. This one with 76 places, that’s a pretty good number. Chances are pretty good. Obviously, with the caveat that we don’t actually know how many candidates are going to apply. That proportion will be a very important factor because if you have 76 places and 200 candidates - fantastic. But if you have 76 places and 5,000 candidates, chances are somewhat different.
In any case, this is a fairly substantive number as I said. On top of that, one interesting aspect that I’d like to highlight is that it’s an AD6 competition. What does that mean? The starting, entry-level grade for administrators, for those with the right qualifications is AD5. AD6 is one grade up,which would typically take anywhere from three to six years of working as an AD5 until eligibility for promotion to AD6 is possible.
This competition hires at an AD6 level which tells us they are looking for professionals who have some work experience and not necessarily fresh graduates out of university. This is a point I’ll come back to because it’s part of the eligibility criteria that needs to be fulfilled.
APPLY BEFORE 12 OCTOBER 2021
The application is very important. Approximately a month from now. Make sure not to leave your application to the last moment. Make sure that you are on time with filling out all the necessary information that is requested of you on your EPSO profile, and that you send it in a day or two before the deadline. You don’t want to risk it, if the server crashes, your wifi doesn’t work, or some other technical hiccup that may prevent you from completing your application on time. This is typically at noon - on the 12th of October, noon, 12 PM, Brussels time. If you are located in a different time zone - don’t risk missing it!
ARE YOU ELIGIBLE?(11:10)
This is perhaps THE most important question for many of you because you need to have the right profile and the right experience to be eligible, meaning that you would be considered for the selection tests of this particular competition.
This is pretty straightforward, nothing surprising here.
- You must have EU citizenship.
- You need to have completed military service, if that’s compulsory in your country.
- I think it’s Greece, Austria, perhaps some other countries where it’s still required. But not many in the EU. But, again, if you are a citizen of one of the countries where there’s compulsory service you need to have completed that, or prove that you are officially exempt.
- You need to meet the character requirements of the job
- If you are a convicted criminal you probably won’t be eligible, unless you’ve done your time in some penitentiary or institution. But hopefully that is not the case for any of you.
More importantly, you probably want to look very carefully at the language requirements, the language rules.
- Which is any of the EU’s 24 official languages and minimum C1 level, which is always a cryptic metric of what C1 actually means. It pretty much means that you are fluent in that language, both written and spoken. You could call it mother tongue, but I’m a bit wary of calling it that because some of you may have grown up in a different country, some of you may have a mother tongue that is not among the EU’s 24 official languages - so that is really is your menu to pick from the 24 languages, which is probably the language you speak completely fluently.
- I can give the example of my native Hungarian which could be my Language 1, but I could choose English if I wanted to.
- Must be English OR French and different from Language 1.
- Also minimum C1 level
- Again, if I take my own personal example, I would probably choose Hungarian as my Language 1 and English as Language 2. Given that I also speak French, I could also choose Language 1 French, Language 2 English. Or the other way around. You probably get the idea.
- For language 2, if you have the liberty to choose French and English because you speak both well, I would encourage you to choose one in which you can process information quickly, write quickly and express yourself with the greatest ease. Another personal example - I speak fluent French, I write fluently in French, but it’s still not at the same level as my English. I feel more comfortable expressing myself or perhaps more sophisticated at ease in English. So choose the one in which you are most comfortable.
That was the language rules part, usually this doesn’t cause many headaches for most candidates because Language 1 would be pretty much a straightforward choice, then perhaps some dilemma for Language 2.
Once you are done with that you want to make sure that you have the right professional qualifications. We have spoken about the General Conditions, the Language Rules, and then number three are the Qualifications. This is where it might get a little tricky for some candidates, depending on your background, depending on what professional experience you may have gained, where you studied or what you did until this point.
- Completed university studies of at least THREE YEARS attested by a diploma
The first part: This essentially means that you have a Bachelor's degree from an accredited university in Europe. If you got your degree outside of Europe you might need to get a homologation, a formal validation of a foreign degree. Either way, it is a basic diploma, usually a BA. Obviously if you have an MA or PhD, it’s not a problem, it’s not going to hurt your application chances, especially for this type of competition it’s probably helpful.
- minimum of THREE YEARS graduate-level professional experience related to the field of the competition:
The development of data protection policies and / or the application of data protection legal framework.
This is what makes the competition an AD6. If it were an AD5 they would not require any professional experience. Given that it’s AD6 you need those three years of professional experience and it has to be related to the field of the competition
If you have experience, maybe as a civil servant but you never really dealt with Data Protection you probably would not qualify.
If you worked in a law firm and among the many things you did was data protection work, and you used data protection on a regular basis, then it’s likely you’ll qualify.
There’s always a bit of a grey area here, about how relevant your work experience is, how connected that is to the actual competition, and sometimes, like a good lawyer, you need to argue your case that you are actually eligible.
Interestingly, a legal degree is not required. As you can see, the underlying degree can be any degree. For example, if you have a degree in linguistics but then for three years you worked in a field strictly related to data protection then you can qualify. That is an interesting aspect and may be very helpful to some of you depending on what your original qualification is. As long as you have that experience, it is helpful to know any (three year university) degree will do.
I’ll take a couple of questions now:
Q: The three years experience - does it have to be full time?
A: Yes, generally that is how they apply this rule. You cannot have a six month work experience with a long pause after, or just part-time work. However, if you were a freelancer, in the sense that you were working as legal counsel for example, or something similar, and you can prove with documentation the relevant kind of work you were doing, and your status was consultant, or similar, then practically speaking it was probably a full time job. But it depends. If you were a civil servant working maybe four hours a day part time for three years… again, I’m not the authority to decide this, so you probably want to check this with the Selection Board for this competition, but it may not fly.
Q: Could a specialised Master’s be recognised as relevant professional experience?
A:At first glance, no. I don’t know enough about what a specialised Master’s is, but it’s probably a study program and not necessarily the actual experience needed. I presume you had to do some traineeship or internship, but simply having an extra qualification does not equal professional experience.
Q: I’m a legal advisor, data protection is among my tasks, it takes up about 50% of my time but I cannot prove this. Will this be a barrier?
A: I wonder why you cannot prove this? I would think a declaration of honor might work, where you declare that I’m a legal advisor and, as you stated here, a big part of my job is dealing with this particular topic. Maybe you could get something signed by your employer or client, someone who works with you, could qualify. For this example I’d say fair enough and likely will qualify you.
Q: If I’m a lawyer with a Master’s in GDPR but without the three years experience, would I still be eligible?
A: I’m afraid not. That three years of actual work experience is really necessary. You may be the greatest scholar on GDPR but if you do not have this formal requirement of three years professional experience then they will not let you qualify for this competition.
Q: The experience required can only mean Data Protection officer or similar work with compliance to data protection rules as a public officer, for example?
A: It’s either / or. If I go back here it states: development of data protection policies and / or the application of data protection legal framework. If you have experience with either of these two then you qualify.
Q: Does the three years have to be continuous?
A: That’s a good question. As long as you have three years altogether, I don’t think it needs to be continuous. For example if you did one year as a data protection officer perhaps, then you paused for a year for whatever reason, and after that did another two years in a very similar job, I think that should qualify because if you went on maternity leave or took a sabbatical - then that should be okay. You need to have those three years of experience, but most probably not continuous.
Q: What if the experience came before university level, but still related to the field of competition?
A: Hm, that’s an interesting one. It says ‘three years of appropriate graduate-level experience’, therefore I think the ‘graduate-level’ refers to having that experience after you had obtained your formal qualifications. At first glance, I’m not sure this would qualify you. But then again, given the circumstances of your case, it may give a different picture, therefore in these ‘grey-zone’ situations I encourage you to contact the Selection Board or EPSO to ask how your circumstance would be evaluated.
In many cases they will not make a pronounced decision, they will ask you to apply with the info you have and they will make their decision after all applications are in. Unfortunately, this is what you may have to do - you will have to apply, fill in all the information, and then wait for their decision. It’s not always possible to get the Selection Board’s assessment before the application deadline, in this case you just need to try your luck. I would not give you any false hopes, however you may want to just give it a try anyway.
WHY IS THIS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY? (24:40)
I probably don’t need to convince most of you that this is a great opportunity. As I said early on in my introduction, it’s really the time for data protection. Now, in the age of Big Tech and tons of privacy issues, data being everywhere, personal data being used and abused - this is very much the time for this kind of profile. The institutions are very keen on candidates now with Data Protection backgrounds. Certainly there are great opportunities out there - GDPR was probably just the opening shot in a long effort from the European Union to pay a lot more attention, in legislative terms, to their citizens' privacy concerns. Aside from that, on a very practical career level it’s certainly a great opportunity because:
- We, on the EU Training site, have a salary calculator, You may want to check it out. You can play around with it, and enter info about your personal circumstances, like whether you have children or not, whether you need to relocate, etc.
- But overall, a sort of ballpark figure, it’s around 5,000-5,500 euros net as a monthly starting salary, which is obviously very attractive.
- There’s health insurance, a very comprehensive plan.
- There are European schools if you have children, then they can study in their own language, or one of the languages of the European Union, depending on your circumstances.
HOW TO GET ONE OF THESE JOBS? (34:00)
Now you are probably asking yourselves this all sounds fine and great but how do I actually get one of these jobs? Here’s where it gets tricky because it’s a slightly different competition this time. I say different because it did surprise us here at EU Training that there were a couple of unusual things. I think this speaks to EPSO, the European Personnel Selection Office, adapting to the changing needs and demands of the European institutions, but also the expectations and the new reality the covid situation has brought about how to find, test and evaluate future European officials, meaning you, the candidates. For those of you who are more familiar with European careers and the EPSO tests would certainly spot these differences. I’ll try to highlight them, because some exams are no longer there and others are and you really want to pay attention because it has a major impact on how you prepare and how you are going to succeed.
STEP 1 - APPLICATION PROCESS
- You fill out the eligibility declaration, which all happens online these days.
- You pick your Language 1 & 2, something we spoke about earlier.
- Then you submit the application in one of the 24 EU languages, for practical you might want to do that in English, French or German. But then again, you have full rights to submit it in Maltese, Polish or Finnish, given the way the institutions approach language policy.
VALIDATE BY APPLICATION DEADLINE: 12 OCTOBER 2021
STEP 1 - PRE-SELECTION FIELD-RELATED EXAM
Here’s where it gets interesting. You have a pre-selection exam, just like you have in any other EPSO competition, but this one is a field-related exam. This is pretty new in the sense that this is going to be a multiple choice test, which is not customary. This is not something that other competitions in the past roughly ten years actually have ever had.
Field-Related Multiple Choice Questions
It’s scored in a way that every question typically gets a score from zero to three. That’s the most classic scoring, it might differ a little from one competition to another, but typically they give zero to three points for each question.
Do not despair if for some questions you need to answer ‘No, I don’t have that experience.’
Going back to that earlier question about implementing legislation, unless that’s a must have listed in the application criteria, some questions of the Talent Screener you simply will not have that experience. And that’s okay as long as you can respond in the affirmative to many of the other questions, you can say ‘I do have that experience’ and then you give all the details.
- Administered in Language 2
- 40 questions
- 60 minutes to complete it
Again, these are multiple choice tests, where there is one question and usually four options, at least this is what we’re expecting, and it’s what similar tests typically have. But this is a knowledge-based exam. It actually tests how much you know about this field. Based on the very limited information that we’ve seen and that EPSO has communicated, it’s not entirely or directly testing your knowledge. For example it will not ask what the GDPR regulation states in paragraph 15 on data breach process. From what we know, the most likely question type will be that a scenario is presented and then they ask what the right procedure is. For example if there is a data breach, a third party gets unauthorized access to sensitive info on a website, what is the process? What is the next step? Who do you notify?
You will be presented with a scenario and then you will be asked what the legal process is in the context of that particular scenario.
This is what we understand at this point. We are looking into this very carefully and consulting with experts. The Notice of Competition came out yesterday, a little over 12 hours ago, but we are already analysing it and trying to gather as much information as we can, so we can offer you these types of sample multiple choice tests. No promises at this stage, however. As I said we are keen to help you and provide you with the best preparation advice possible., but even EPSO has not provided any sample questions yet at this point. There is limited information but as I said we’re mobilising our resources and sources to gain more information and then be able to provide you with the best preparation.
In short there is a multiple choice test of this kind that you will need to take as long as you are eligible to participate in this competition. 40 questions, Language 2 in 60 minutes. And it is a very important part of the overall scores and an important part of the overall exam.
Pass Mark 20/40
You need to have 20 points to pass, but it’s not that important, because you need to have as many points as possible. You really need to get the most points possible, because it is a competition afterall, where you are competing with other candidates. They will rank the candidates accordingly based on the scores received, and only a certain number will pass to the next stage.
- PASS MARK IS NOT ENOUGH
- Need to get one of the highest marks in this test to make it to the next stage of the competition
You need to know your stuff. You need to answer correctly as many times as you can to stand a chance of being better than your peers.
- The score will be ADDED to the final overall Assessment Centre mark
The concept is the following: this is a pre-selection test where they, as the name suggests, pre-select candidates to go to the next stage. You need to be good enough to pass to the next stage.
But, even among those who pass to the next stage, the score will be kept and will become part of the bigger pie of scores that you will get on the other tests which you’ll need to sit in later stages of the process.
STEP 3 - ASSESSMENT CENTRE
We already know roughly how many people will pass:
- Approximately three times the number of candidates sought will be invited
- We know there are 76 places on the Reserve list
- If you do the math then we know roughly 220 - 240 people will be invited to the Assessment Centre
It’s not possible to know exactly in advance, because it depends on how people perform on the selection tests. That’s why they give a rough number, but if they give a cut-off score there could be an additional number of people. This is, however, the ballpark figure that they give for how many candidates they are willing to test in the Assessment Centre.
Supposing everything goes right, you pass to this next stage, that’s when the Assessment Centre actually happens.
- Tests are done in Language 1 and Language 2
- Location could be either online or in-person, it all depends on the epidemiological situation in Belgium, in Europe and generally how easy it is to travel.
If you need to travel because it’s in person they do reimburse the travel costs and provide some allocation for accommodation. In the name of equal opportunity, travel should not be a problem for anyone. Then again, the exam may happen online as it has happened in the past year and a half to two years given the restrictions, so there are tools and systems in place for that too.
ASSESSMENT CENTRE TASKS
There are actually two major parts.
EIGHT GENERAL COMPETENCIES WILL BE TESTED THROUGH TWO TESTS:
- Case Study
- Situational Competency-Based Interview (SCBI)
- These will be done in Language 2
We have a lot of resources available for both. Webinars, articles, e-books, tips & tricks, you have it all. You can find out more about both of these on the eutraining.eu website. You can access all these resources. I will not spend any particular time on this, I know there are questions coming in. But just for the sake of completeness, to mention there are two types of tests. One is a Case Study exam where you need to write. Then there is the Situational Competency-Based Interview which, as the name suggests, is an interview, in-person or online, with one or two assessors and they ask you questions based on a background document which you need to answer the best you can.
All of this happens in Language 2, in English or French, it’s quite straightforward.
FIELD-RELATED COMPETENCIES WILL BE ASSESSED BY ONE TEST:
- Field-Related Interview
- Language 2
Here they will ask you very specific questions about Data Protection. Things that are immediately, closely related to the field of the competition.
ASSESSMENT CENTRE SCORING
This is pretty classic. The Assessment Centre essentially assesses your competencies. There are eight competencies which are always the same in every competition. These are the ones that the assessor will evaluate: Communication skills, Working with Others, Resilience, Leadership, Organising & Prioritising, etc. Either way - there are eight. All of this is public information. Of course, there is much more to it. We provide a lot of resources on how to self evaluate, how to assess your own existing level and how you can improve and demonstrate these competencies in the framework of the Assessment Centre.
EIGHT GENERAL COMPETENCIES:
- Pass mark 40/80
- Each competency is worth max 10 points
- Pass mark 70/140
Then there is your professional knowledge, your competency in the field. Your field-related interview has an important weight in the overall scoring. You need to have 70 points at least out of 140. That’s a lot of points. So you could be a great communicator, you can be delivering quality and results, you can be very resilient, show great leadership skills but if you don’t know much about this particular topic then you probably won’t be a very effective data protection officer. And vice versa, if you have outstanding knowledge about data protection but you are anti-social and unbearable to work with, then, again, that’s not going to yield enough points to pass this part of the competition. Now, interestingly...
IN ADDITION TO THIS there are the good, old
COMPUTER BASED MULTIPLE CHOICE REASONING TESTS:
The Computer-Based Tests are:
- Verbal Reasoning
- Numerical Reasoning
- Abstract Reasoning
So let me try to sum it up:
There was the pre-selection part where you take a multiple choice test with questions linked to Data Protection, as far as we know right now, based on scenarios about how you would apply the data protection laws and rules. For example, what is the right course of action in the context of the situations they describe, it’s 40 questions in 60 minutes and you need to do your very best.
If you are one of the highest scoring candidates in that particular pre-selection exam you get to the Assessment Centre. In the Assessment Centre you have different types of tests, the Case Study, the Situational Competency Based Interview and the Field-Related Interview.
You see, it's interesting that in this particular competition where they have the Abstract, Verbal, Numerical tests as part of the Assessment Centre and not as a pre-selection test, as they often do for other competitions. We’ll see if this becomes the new way of running such competitions, or is this one an outlier for some reason? Maybe they’re just testing it out to see how well this works. In any case, once you are in this phase, you really need to be at the top of your game because your score in the Abstract, Verbal, Numerical Reasoning tests will also be added to the overall score of the Assessment Centre.
You have the competency scores, you have your field-related interview score, and you have the Abstract, Verbal, Numerical Reasoning score. Therefore, you need to have very high points in all three major tenets or pillars in order to have an overall high score and then, ideally, be placed on the Reserve List.
Hopefully that makes sense. Just a few words about the reasoning tests, many of you would presumably know this or have experience with this :
1. VERBAL REASONING
- Administered in Language 1
- 20 questions
- 35 minutes to complete it
That’s relatively short, less than two minutes per question. There’s a text and you need to choose the most accurate statement about that text.
1. NUMERICAL REASONING
- Administered in Language 1
- 10 questions
- 20 minutes to complete it
Here you have two minutes per question. You’ll need to look at a chart,or some numbers, and just come up with the right calculation, or at least estimation, which helps you identify the correct answer.
1. ABSTRACT REASONING
- Administered in Language 1
- 10 questions
- 10 minutes to complete it
Then this is the most dreaded one. You’ll need to find the next element or item in the sequence of abstract charts. There is a certain logic to it, how different pieces move, turn or spin, appear and disappear, and then you need to find the next one in the sequence very, very quickly.
The interesting thing with these Computer-Based Tests, so the Abstract, Verbal and Numerical Reasoning tests, there is NO PASS MARK! It’s not that you need to be amazing in all three, but you’re encouraged to be very good in all three because the points will be added to your overall score. Altogether 40 points could be added, you want to get the maximum.
ASSESSMENT CENTRE SCORING
Just to sum it up:
EIGHT GENERAL COMPETENCIES: Pass mark 40/80
- Each worth 10 points
FIELD-RELATED INTERVIEW: Pass mark 70/140
CBT REASONING EXAM: No pass mark
PRE-SELECTION FIELD-RELATED CBT EXAM: Pass Mark 20/40
Those who have the highest marks will be ranked and the best 76, give or take one or two depending on where they end up doing the cut off point, will be added to the Reserve List and eligible to be Data Protection officers in the end.
SUCCESS! RESERVE LIST(43:50)
Once you’re on the Reserve List you become eligible for recruitment. This is when you start looking for open positions, or opportunities would find you. You may get a call from the European Data Protection Supervisor’s office or from the European Parliament saying ‘We need you to work for us because we see you are on the Reserve List, you’re eligible, you’ve come through this excruciating sequence of tests and we’d be happy to employ you. This is when you decide if this is the right thing for you, hopefully it is.
- Number of places
- Validity - Reserve Lists have a validity which is typically one year, but for this type of specialist competition it’s often longer. It could be two or three years, or even open-ended until a similar competition is run.
Before I go on I will answer a couple more questions:
Q: I worked as a Function Group II in Data Protection, and I have a certificate saying that. In the frame of my function at the commission I had to deal with Data Protection projects. How do I demonstrate that in the supporting documents?
A: Well if you worked in Data Protection I presume that’s good enough. Keywords appear on that certificate or employment slip. I don’t think you need to demonstrate anything beyond that, as long as you have the three years and official qualification as a three-year degree then you should be fine.
Q: How will our experience be checked by EPSO? I’m not referring to the minimum work experience requirement of three years but to other issues, like the type of tests we have to take as Data Protection lawyers, clients or projects bound by confidentiality agreements.?
A:If you have the general framework and a substantive part of your job was about data protection that should be good enough for you to be eligible. You probably need to demonstrate that with a certificate or at minimum a declaration of honor that you actually did that if there are no other resources available. But that’s why the true test comes through in the competition. They test you on your knowledge, what you actually know. If you signed confidentiality agreements then obviously you won’t talk about anything that may breach those agreements. It’s really about how much you know about the subject. There is no Talent Screener in this competition where they would ask specific questions about your employment history. That won’t happen here.
Q: The Pre-Selection exam - are there any specific resources you recommend to review apart from GDPR and the websites of the institutions?
A: At very first glance, obviously the GDPR is the bible, you need to know it inside out. I would also recommend looking at the European Data Protection Supervisors website very carefully. A resource I often recommend in general, in this case as well, is Annual Reports, the Data Protection Supervisors annual report, I’m pretty sure they have one, maybe multiple ones from past years, which will give you a sense of the kind of things they deal with, or challenges and issues they have dealt with. There certainly are other resources on this particular subject from other institutions. One interesting resource that comes to mind is all the European Commission Directorates, all the DGs, have annual reports, as well as management reports. Maybe DG HR or Security have something related to Data Protection. Maybe the Internal Audit Service has certain sections on data protection. You can always dig a little deeper. I’m sure the European Parliament’s committees have issues linked to data protection. Maybe the European Parliament’s Research Service has some reports or interesting resources on data protection. These are just some initial ideas. It’s a good idea to start searching the internet in the context of the EU to see what else comes up in relation to data protection. I would also encourage you to look at other international organisations related to data protection, for example the International Association of Privacy Professionals, the IAPP, I’m pretty sure has a wealth of resources. These are all things that you can check out and find the kind of information that is put out there, obviously it’s vast. But, hopefully, this can help you in your preparation.
Q: Not clear on the difference between the Situational Competency-Based Interview and the Field-Related Interview. Can you please explain?
A: There’s a big difference. The SCBI has nothing to do with data protection. It has to do with how you would react in a given professional situation. So it has nothing to do with the particular field of the competition. It’s really about your competencies. How would you work with team members? How would you resolve a conflict? How would you make sure that a deadline is respected despite certain challenges? All of it is about your competencies. Whereas the Field-Related Interview is really about your professional knowledge and the application of your professional knowledge in data protection. How do you use the rules that you are aware of? What is the application of data protection and related rules in a specific context?
These are quite different. If I wanted to simplify it I’d say one is about how you work and the other one is what you know.
Q: I was told it’s possible that all stages of testing take one day, do you consider it possible? Or will it be two or three effectively different dates?
A:Hard to tell, because the Case Study in the Assessment Centre is sometimes organized separately for logistical reasons. So you might need to do that either online or in a prometric test center on a computer - that may be on a separate date. Whereas the actual interview might take place on another day. It’s not a given that all of this happens on a single day. It also depends whether it’s in person or online. If it’s online then they might organize it in a way that you might have the Case Study on the computer, and a couple of hours later the SCBI, then the field interview, and then maybe the Abstract, Verbal, Numerical Reasoning tests on a separate day.
It is hard to tell. At this point everything will be communicated to you in due course and you do have time to plan, and at least a month to get your head around how to organize your time.
HOW TO GET THE JOB? (56:00)
- Practice - take it seriously! Practice for 10-12 weeks.
- Make sure you have others who help keep you motivated, you might want to form a study group.
- Make a plan.
- Practice regularly, prepare for one hour a day or 10 hours per week
- It’s a bit like preparation for a sports event where you cannot just get your technique and muscles ready the week before. You need to do it for a good length of time on a regular basis.
- Learn the methodology.
- Make sure you’re aware of how to quickly resolve an abstract reasoning problem.
- Find out more about the Situational Competency-Based Interview, how can you improve your interview skills. How can you express yourself more clearly and effectively so your scores will presumably be higher as well.
- Persistence is key!
- Good preparation is a long process. It might take several months. It’s likely that it will take several months. Do not give up! Keep going, even if it’s looking a bit hopeless - it’s not - just stick with it.
- Do lots of test simulations!
- With a colleague, with one of our coaches, online - there are many, many ways to practice these things.
We’re here to help you get into the practice mode.
- Verbal Reasoning - we now have them in 24 LANGUAGES!
- Numerical Reasoning
- Abstract Reasoning
- Case Study Simulations
- SCBI Workshops - we have two, soon three, amazing coaches and trainers who are here to assist you.
We provide a lot of information free of charge as well, any time you’d like to send us a message we’ll point you to resources that can be helpful, along with...
- 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
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- Pro Tips For The EPSO Verbal Reasoning Test
- Pro Tips For The EPSO Numerical Reasoning Test
- Pro Tips For The EPSO Abstract Reasoning Test
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"Administrators in the field of Data Protection - EPSO Exams"
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QUESTIONS PLEASE (55:45)
Q: Any idea how long the whole procedure will take?
A: Usually the benchmark is around nine months. If you do the maths what would that be? Roughly next summer, uff - that’s quite some time. Or late spring. In some cases they might speed up the process. Until now there were a lot of uncertainties as the transition from the in person tests to the online testing happened because of covid, but now those systems and practices are in place, so this probably has a positive impact on the competition cycle. But to be realistic anything between six to nine months.
Q: Motivations and Strengths looks very much like a short version of the Talent Screener and there is not much about this part of the application in the NoC. When would those answers be assessed?
A: Honestly I’m not even sure that they will be assessed at all. It might be the kind of question that you have to fill in and then they might look at it at one point, perhaps only at the very end once you are on the Reserve List and they are looking to hire you and they want to see what your motivation is to work in this field. So this might have bearing at the actual recruitment stage. In terms of its impact on your application - probably not much… with the caveat that I might be wrong. It’s part of your profile and things you need to fill in for the application. You certainly won’t write any nonsense here, you want to make sure you fill it in properly, but it will not be translated into a score. They won’t give you ten points for looking very motivated. Fill it in properly but it will probably not get evaluated until the recruitment phase.
Q: Do we need to get certification from current and former employers stating that we have experience in Data Protection? How specific does it need to be? Which documents are needed from who? Could we just provide a general contract?
A: It depends on the application form which I haven’t seen yet. There they would probably ask you more details about when you worked in data protection from which date to which date, what your job profile was, and you need to be ready to provide evidence. Chances are they will not ask you for those pieces of evidence, but they have the right to do so. If they were to ask for it, you need to be able to provide it.
To what degree? How detailed? Well, let’s say if you were a civil servant in Spain where you dealt with data protection but your official employment record says ‘Administrative Assistant - AD5 Civil servant in the municipality of Madrid dealing with legal matters’, great but ideally data protection would need to be listed somewhere as part of your responsibilities.
In short, as far as I know, you will not necessarily have to provide all of these certificates, but you need to be ready to offer them. From a formal employment perspective, if you have three years professional experience then you absolutely need to prove that. At minimum when you get hired and have documentation with the HR department. But again, as a ‘footnote’, they might ask you for it already at this point, in the course of the application, ask you to attach a certificate.
I know this is a very broad, loose answer for this question because I don’t have specific information to what degree they require documentation. Either way, be ready, be prepared to show a certificate. Although you don’t necessarily need to start requesting these documents now, get started on the application first, see what they ask of you until the 12th of October, and then they will let you know in due course if they need more.
Q: I have an older version of the book, did you update it a lot this year?
A: I presume you mean The Ultimate EU Test Book for Administrators - This year it has not been updated, the latest version is 2020. Depending on which version you have, if it’s one or two years old, there are usually not huge changes. But if you have much earlier versions then it has probably already become something quite different from the copy you have.
If you mean the Assessment Centre edition then we have done some updates in the past two - three years to reflect what happened at EPSO with the online testing, but these are not substantive changes in terms of the number of pages but obviously very important in their practical application of how they run the online tests versus the in-person tests.
Q: When is job experience checked by EPSO in this competition?
A: They will probably check after the field related interview phase, and again, they will double check the length of your work experience (make sure it’s three years).
THANK YOU FOR PARTICIPATING
Thank you so much for your participation, hopefully this gave you some guidance on how to prepare for the competition.
If you have any questions feel free to get in touch, here is the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
My colleagues are ready to help you.
I’m wishing you lots of luck in this competition, please take it seriously, there will be fierce competition, and don’t share your password with anyone! You know that already, pay attention to data protection. And protect that even further when you are an EU official in this field.
Thank you so much for your time!
(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.)