2021 EPSO Lawyer-Linguist Exams - Information Webcast | EU Training

2021 EPSO Lawyer-Linguist Exams - Information Webcast

This is the complete recording and presentation of the 2021 EPSO Lawyer-Linguist Exams - Information Webcast

Presentation slides

Transcript - scroll down to view the full transcript for this webinar.

You can access the 2020 EPSO Lawyer-Linguist Notice of Competition here

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Webcast TRANSCRIPT

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WHERE WILL YOU WORK?
WHAT WILL YOU BE TASKED WITH?
POSITIONS AVAILABLE
ARE YOU ELIGIBLE?

WHY IS THIS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY?
HOW TO GET ONE OF THESE JOBS?

SUCCESS! RESERVE LIST
HOW TO GET THE JOB
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

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INTRO - Sound check, greetings and introduction (00:00-03:40)

Presenter: Andras Baneth (EU Training co-founder, author of The Ultimate EU Test Book, Former EU Official)

ABOUT EU TRAINING

Before we get started here are a few words about EU Training.

OUR COMMUNITY

  • We have an always growing and robust community who are all passionate about EU careers.
  • There are hundreds, if not thousands of our former clients who we’ve helped prepare for and pass the competitions, and they follow all the developments we share with them.
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  • You might want to check out the different test packages that we have on our website. We have a database of 25,000 questions and growing!
  • Over 17 million questions have been used, which I find a pretty fascinating number, personally..

WEBINARS

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WHERE WILL YOU WORK? (5:30)

Let’s get into the Lawyer Linguist competition! And here comes the caveat: some of you might know, others may not, that I actually used to be a lawyer-linguist. Therefore, this is pretty close to my heart. In many ways there are a lot of interesting emotions and memories. I worked as a lawyer-linguist at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg back in 2004 until 2007. I have firsthand experience about what it means to be a lawyer-linguist.

It is slightly different if you are working in the European Parliament, slightly different working at the Court, and slightly different working at the European Commission, or the Council of the EU. Yet, there are obviously a lot of similarities. I am very happy to share these ideas with you. Again, if you have questions about the nature of the job, I am more than happy to answer those. 

First question is - where are you going to work? Probably Brussels or Luxembourg, and probably not Strasbourg. Even though, legally speaking, you probably will be travelling there if your employer is the European Parliament. You might be instructed to travel to Strasbourg if and when live meetings resume there. Right now there is a partial physical presence of the members of the European Parliament but for staff it’s highly limited to those who are actually travelling. But then again, typically your place of work will be Brussels, or possibly Luxembourg, depending on which institution you end up working for. But the chances are, in very practical terms, that you will work in Brussels. 

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WHAT WILL YOU BE TASKED WITH? (5:30)

This is all in the Notice of Competition, and we put this on the screen for the sake of completeness and accurate information:

  • Basically you will be revising, and quite possibly translating, EU legal texts in the language of the competition from at least two other languages and providing advice on legislative drafting. 
    • You are a lawyer, and a linguist - that is proofreader, translator, revisor, linguistic coordinator - based on the combination of languages you know and you’ll be dealing with EU legislation of all sorts.
    • One day you might be translating a Notice of EPSO Competition, the next day you may be dealing with a directive on single-use plastics and the next day it might be a court decision that you have been requested to revise, or perhaps translate, or proofread.
    • These are the tasks centered around your legal knowledge and linguistic competence.
  • The main tasks will be to follow the legislative procedures throughout the process and act as advisers, checking the quality of drafting and compliance with the formal rules on the presentation of legislative texts.
    • This is information that’s helpful, this is information that is necessary for your preparation because you need to have a good understanding of all these topics already for your exam.
    • This is something I will come back to, discussing to what degree you will need to know about the EU, EU law, national law and similar matters.
  • The work involves frequent contact with the various participants in the legislative procedure. There is quite a bit of coordination work that you are requested to do. 

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POSITIONS AVAILABLE

How many positions are out there? You probably all know, you’ve seen the notice of competition, so we’ve listed them here for you. There are quite a number of languages, six languages are being sought (AD7). 

  • Bulgarian Lawyer-Linguist: 8
  • Czech Lawyer-Linguist: 8
  • French Lawyer-Linguist: 9
  • Hungarian Lawyer-Linguist: 8
  • Irish Lawyer-Linguist: 10
  • Polish Lawyer-Linguist: 8

(This competition covers six language profiles and you can only apply to one.)
The number of places on the Reserve List is not huge, unfortunately. That is certainly a challenge, that you want to be among the best. But at this point, at this stage of the process I really encourage you to focus on the first step. Take it one step at a time. Make sure you are really focusing on the next phase ahead of you, which in your case will be the pre-selection phase after you’ve completed the application process. 

APPLY BEFORE 23 FEBRUARY 2021

Let’s look at the application deadline. Really need to emphasise the date, it’s the 23rd of February. Make sure to not leave your application for the last moment. Make sure to fill in your EPSO profile, all the application check boxes and whatever else is needed, in time and not in the last moment. Give it sufficient thought, make sure that you read everything - after all we are talking about a Lawyer-Linguist competition, so accuracy, spelling and proper written expression are even more important than for other competitions. Make sure that you hand in a proper, neat looking application on time.

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ARE YOU ELIGIBLE? (11:35)

Main question, perhaps. Are you eligible? What are the eligibility criteria?

General Conditions

  • Must have EU citizenship
  • Completed military service requirements
  • Which is compulsory only in a handful of EU member states. In most others this is not an issue. 
  • Meet the character requirements of the job, meaning no criminal record, or anything that might call into question that you are eligible.

LANGUAGE RULES

Perhaps this is the most crucial and one of the most important aspects of the competition. How do you choose languages? What rules apply? 
The first point is, a couple of years ago, thanks to court cases from different member states, they separated your citizenship and your linguistic knowledge. For example, if you are Romanian, and you are fluent in Romanian, and perhaps you lived much of your life in France, you have the Romanian passport, but your main language, I would even call it mother tongue is actually French, but you also speak Swedish and English, what can you do with this mix? Now, your passport only matters to the extent that it proves you are an EU citizen. Beyond that it has no relevance in choosing a language.
What does matter, actually, is which languages you speak and on what level. And later we will see another aspect is what degree you have, especially because you need to have a law degree which, again, can be from any EU member state as long as it meets the formal criteria for a legal degree.
Back to the language rules. We are essentially talking about three languages:

LANGUAGE 1

  • Language of the competition (C2 level - near perfect knowledge)

LANGUAGE 2

  • Must be English (minimum C1 level)

LANGUAGE 3

  • Any of the 24 official EU languages as long as it’s different from Language 1 and Language 2  (minimum C1 level)

Going back to my previous example, let’s say you are applying for the French Lawyer-Linguist competition, because regardless of which passport you hold, as long as it’s an EU passport, you speak French as a native, and for the sake of the example, you got your legal degree in France. You would choose French as your Language 1. For Language 2, that’s English, that’s clear. Then Language 3 can be any other EU language. It could be Spanish, Romanian, Finnish, any other EU language as long as it’s different from the other two. 

Make sure that you carefully think about the languages, also in relation to which law degree you hold from where, because these are closely connected.

QUALIFICATIONS

GRADE AD7

  • Completed university studies (in law), attested by qualifications required for each language profile - ANNEX 1 outlines specific qualifications

In the Notice of Competition there is a list of the title of the degree you need to have, which is pretty standard in every EU country. I know the Hungarian one, because I got my legal degree there. But the same applies to all the other countries. Make sure that you take a good look at that and if there’s any doubt you might want to ask EPSO or the Selection Board. I’m not sure what the rule would be if you had obtained a law degree outside the EU. Can you make an equivalence? That could be a pretty complicated case because they might not accept it as a fully equivalent degree, especially in the context of the current competition, you might not qualify. The rule seems to be that as long as you have that official title on your degree that is listed in the Notice of Competition, that is the only kind of degree that is accepted for the purposes of this lawyer-linguist exam.

  • No professional experience is required.

If you just graduated a couple months ago, as long as you have your degree you do not need to present any professional experience. This is pretty outstanding. Think about it, most competitions are launched on AD5 level. That is the entry level for those with a university qualification. In this case, for a lawyer-linguist, you actually have AD7 level. This is two steps higher than the ‘normal’ entry level in most competitions. You get this really great benefit both in terms of salary, it means at least 1,000 euros more monthly salary, as well as in terms of your progress and your career prospects. You get to start at two levels higher up than most people. Now, the price of this is that you are a lawyer-linguist, which means you are probably required, whether formally or informally, to stay in the job for a while even if you wish to transit into a different career path within the institutions because you are given this extra head start. 
What this means in practice is that usually to go from one grade to another, e.g. AD5 to AD6, typically takes three years. You are given almost six years of advantage in terms of career progress, compared to most others, for the lawyer-linguist competitions. That is an interesting  aspect of this exam. It was the same back then for us. I had also started at this level when I started working at the European Court of Justice. 

I’ll take a few questions here:

Q: Can I apply for a position in the coming competition if I am already in the middle of the recruitment process from last year’s lawyer-linguist competition from Luxembourg? 
A: Hm, that’s interesting. Without knowing further context, you mention you are in the middle of the recruitment process. If you are actually being hired and you are going to start working, presumably, as a lawyer-linguist in Luxembourg, I would presume you are AD7 and being hired, so if it’s the same level I’m not actually sure what your interest is in applying for pretty much the same kind of competition. If your interest is because you would prefer to work in Brussels instead of Luxembourg then perhaps you can work that out at your new workplace, and get a transfer after a year or two. Other than that, I don’t really see the benefit. 
In formal terms, whether it’s allowed for you to apply to this competition - yes, you are. The main rule is that you can apply for as many EPSO competitions as you like, unless it’s explicitly forbidden in the Notice of Competition. In the current case you can only apply for one of the six languages, you cannot apply for French, Hungarian and Irish at the same time - you have to pick one. But if it’s a totally separate competition and as long as you qualify for the, for example,  Agricultural Experts competition, which is coming out soon, or Nuclear Scientist, or Secretary, you are free to apply.

Q: I’m finishing my legal studies soon, most likely by the end of the EPSO selection process will they allow me to take part?
A: I would need to double check the Notice of Competition, because often EPSO would say you need to have obtained your legal degree by the end of the selection process. I am not sure if in this particular case which rule they are using. Whether you need to be in possession of your diploma at the deadline for the application or by a certain date in the near future. This information should be in the NoC. I encourage you to check it out. 

Q: Is relevant experience an advantage or not?
A: Typically it is an advantage. It does help if you have that sort of relevant experience because you are currently working as a legal translator, perhaps as a freelancer. Perhaps in your current job you work in public administration where you deal with many of these aspects that the future job will entail, if you succeed in the competition. This can help your recruitment chances. 
And I would like to emphasize, for those of you who are not intimately familiar with this terminology, EPSO does selection. They select suitable candidates who in the end get placed on a Reserve List. Once you are on the Reserve List that is when the recruitment starts. That is when you will search through available positions to find a specific job.
Having some relevant experience helps you during the recruitment phase. But when it comes to the competition it’s really an equal chance / opportunity, where no matter what your professional background is everyone is measured on the same metrics of the competition.

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WHY IS THIS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY? (23:15)

  • ATTRACTIVE SALARIES
    • As I mentioned before, given the AD7 status and the salary that comes with that.
  • GOOD BENEFITS
    • European schools, health care and child care, and all the other things that EU officials are entitled to based on the staff regulations

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HOW TO GET ONE OF THESE JOBS? (23:40)

Certainly you need to start by creating an EPSO profile. Then you apply for the competition.

STEP 1 - APPLICATION PROCESS 

  • Declare your eligibility and make sure you meet all the formal criteria as discussed.
  • Pick your Language 1, 2 & 3 based on the principals and rules already discussed
  • Then your application needs to be submitted by the deadline, 23 February 2021,  in any of the 24 EU languages, make sure you don’t miss it.

STEP 2 - PRE-SELECTION CBT EXAM

The real challenge begins here, with the pre-selection tests. There are four pre-selection tests, the ones you see here:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Numerical Reasoning
  • Abstract Reasoning
  • Language Comprehension

As of right now, on the day of this webinar, these still take place at test centres, run by the company Pro-Metric and can be found in every EU member state in the capitals and sometimes in other large cities. You actually physically go there and sit in front of a computer and you do your best. Right now, as far as we see, this is not going to change most probably. You are not going to be able to take these multiple choice tests from the comfort of your home or in a nice studio, like ours, but you will actually have to go to the test centre. They obviously have safety measures and hygiene practices set in place. You have to sanitise your hands, they disinfect the computers, they do everything necessary.

As opposed to the Assessment Centre, which you can pretty much do from anywhere with a good internet connection, and it’s a different approach. But we’ll be getting into that subject a little later.

1. VERBAL REASONING

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

Most of you have probably these types of tests. There are hundreds available for free on eutraining.eu, there are lots available on EPSO’s website. Indeed, these are fairly well known, what they look like. 

So in Verbal Reasoning there is a text passage, then you have certain, logical reasoning linked to it, and you need to pick the correct answer. 

In terms of timing you have you get 20 questions that you have to answer in 35 minutes. It is still quite challenging because the text can be relatively long, and you need to read through your answer options, you need to quickly process the information to make sure that you find the right answer. 

2. NUMERICAL REASONING

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

When it comes to Numerical Reasoning, it’s a similar concept, ten questions in 20 minutes. There’s a chart with data and numbers in it. You need to do quick calculations and, basically, algebra operations, to find the right answer among the options given. 

You are given an onscreen calculator. You can use that but it takes up time. It’s better to use a methodology and techniques where you can quickly estimate and then find the answer that seems most likely to be accurate. This saves you time and gets you to be more efficient and ultimately reach the higher score.

Quick methodology to use:

  • Data interpretation
  • Reasoning
  • Estimation (Guesstimation)
  • Calculation

3. ABSTRACT REASONING

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

Then you have Abstract Reasoning, cynically I would say ‘Everyone’s favourite!’. This tends to be the most dreaded of these three. It depends on your style, your mindset, your background and how comfortable you are with these types of exercises. 

You have a sequence of images that change and rotate according to a certain logic which you need to quickly reverse engineer and find the next in the sequence. You have ten questions in ten minutes. This is probably the most challenging one given that you only have a minute per question, and that seems to be rather tough.

These were the three core tests and then you have the fourth one.

4. LANGUAGE COMPREHENSION

  • Administered in Language 2
  • 12 questions
  • 25 minutes to complete it

This is not exactly the same as Verbal Reasoning. It’s less about logic and more about to what degree you master the given language, from a comprehension perspective. They will test your vocabulary, how well you understand the given text, and there’s a tiny bit of verbal reasoning element (deducing certain elements from the text), but essential literacy and reading comprehension, to a great degree you are tested on how well you understood a certain text. 

TEXT PASSAGE:

Verbal Reasoning

Verbal Comprehension

Verbal Fluency

Understanding and reasoning:

Which of the following statements is true?

Meaning of words:

In paragraph six, what does the word ‘expatiate’ mean?

Understanding the broad concept:

What does the author think about…?

The good news is we have incredible amounts of sample tests, not just sample but practice tests on our website in many languages. You are very welcome to check those out and you can practice those to get a feel for it, so when you get to the competition you will be more familiar both with the interface as well as the content of the exam.

CBT SCORING

This is a summary of the scoring, but there is one important element that you see on the screen, and that is that the Numerical and the Abstract Reasoning scores are combined and the pass mark is somewhat lower than 50%:

  • VERBAL REASONING (0/20)
    • Pass mark: 10/20
    • This is a pretty achievable bar. 
  • NUMERICAL REASONING (0/10)
  • ABSTRACT REASONING (0/10)
    • Pass mark: the two above COMBINED 8/20
  • LANGUAGE COMPREHENSION (0/12)
    • Pass mark: 7/12

You are not just encouraged to, but you kind of need to perform your best. This is a competition, so you not only compete against the pass marks, the object thresholds, you are also competing against the other candidates. That requires you to achieve the highest possible score.
The pass mark is not enough - only the highest scores will pass to the next stage. You do, therefore, have a strong incentive to perform very well on these four tests because you are measured against other candidates. 

Step 3 - TRANSLATION TEST

And just to get an idea of how many people get to the next phase, it’s approximately seven times the number of places available on the Reserve List.

You can roughly calculate how many candidates will get to the next stage. The thing is, this competition is very diverse because I presume far fewer people are going to choose Bulgarian as their main language than those who will choose French. But then again, it is really hard to guess. Just because a language is less widely spoken in the EU does not mean there wouldn’t be hundreds or several hundreds of people with legal degrees or lawyers in Bulgaria who are very interested in the competition. As opposed to France being a much larger country, therefore many more people speak French, and there are perhaps more people with French legal degrees. However, maybe the interest in the competition is different.

It is really hard to estimate how strong the competition is going to be in advance. But this one at least gives you an idea that you are competing against a certain number of people, and what chances you have, in regards to how many people will pass to the next phase of the competition.

As you can see there is a translation test. This is a difficult test, typically because it’s a legal text.
You have two hours to translate the text from Language 2 (English) into Language 1 (your chosen language). 
This is as close as it gets to the real job, when you will very likely be translating / proofreading / editing / revising legal texts. Here you are requested to translate from Language 2 into Language 1, without a dictionary. That’s the hard part. Obviously, in the job, you are given a lot of tools, in a real live setting. But at the competition you need to do it on your own, without help, to the best of your ability.

Obviously, it’s not just your vocabulary that matters. It’s the style that you use, the flow of the text, the layout that you apply - even if it’s just a very basic text editor on the computer, the punctuation, the spelling, whether you finish the entire text, the overall consistency of the vocabulary - meaning do you translate certain terms and terminology consistently throughout the text, all of this I’ve told you are metrics based on the quality of your translation that will be evaluated. 

I know it firsthand, because many years ago I was part of the Selection Board we did exactly that. We would read the translations to see if certain keywords were properly translated consistently throughout. Did the candidate finish the task within the allocated time? Does the overall flow of the text sound native? Does it sound natural? Well, as much as a legal text can sound natural… Does it have a good flow and feel to it? All of these factors are key to a high quality translation and you will be measured by that.

As you can see you need to get at least 40 points out of 80, but then again, you are competing against other candidates. 

I’ll take a few questions here:

Q: How can we prove that we have a nativel level of Language 1 if we don’t have the nationality of that particular language?
A: That’s the great thing about the competition. They are not going to ask you about any DALF, DELE, Oxford or any other language certificates, you actually just need to perform very well in that language. Here’s your chance, here’s where you prove through your translation text that you actually have mastered that language. Going back to my previous example, if your passport is Romania, but you’ve lived in France most of your life, you have a French legal degree and you choose French as Language 1, then here’s your chance to shine and truly show that. You don’t need any other proof, so to speak, other than performing very well at the given task. You don’t need a formal certificate. The fact that you have a legal degree in that language is kind of proof that you have a pretty good notion of that language. I would have a hard time getting a degree in Bulgarian law given my absolute lack of knowledge of that beautiful language. 

Q: Are we going to go through CBT’s (computer-based tests) before checking the application documents?
A: Having in mind that there will be no Talent Screener?
Yes, it seems to be the case. You will sit the computer-based tests, even before they check your formal documents, your nationality, photocopy of your ID or passport, whatever you need to upload into the EPSO system, like the degree and the title of the degree. So, these are probably checked after the computer-based tests.
The fact that you are going to be invited to the CBT’s is great, but it shouldn’t mean at that stage that all your documents have been formally vetted and approved.

Q: Adding a fourth language in B2, is that an advantage?
A: Let’s put it this way, it’s not going to get you extra points, because it’s not part of the formal criteria based on which all candidates are judged. It can help your chances at the recruitment phase, if you actually have a fourth language because they look at your profile once you are on the Reserve List. Then they see that here’s a candidate that actually speaks Greek as well, and that is a great addition - for whatever reason the recruiter has. 
So, perhaps later in the recruitment process, yes it is an advantage, but not during the Selection process. 

Back to the Translation Test:
It is a competition, you will need to perform really well and in the top tier in order to advance to the next stage of the competition.

Step 4 - ASSESSMENT CENTRE (38:30)

Then comes the Assessment Centre. Between these phases there is typically several weeks, maybe a month or two, so you definitely have time to prepare for the next phase. Once you get to the Assessment Centre then things get a little more complicated. 

Whether it’s in person or online, because at this point, now in January 2021 when we are recording this, we don’t yet know how it’s going to play out. EPSO is now capable, they’ve rolled out systems, platforms and processes, to have the Assessment Centre purely online. 

It can happen basically anywhere, from the comfort of your home, or you may come to our Brussels based studio where we provide all the infrastructure, obviously respecting all Covid hygiene precautions and EPSO rules - which means we will not help you, other than giving you a great cup of coffee, lighting and secure internet. These are kind of the formal requirements, setting that you want to ensure, wherever you might be doing the Assessment Centre from. 

The actual content is something I’d like to speak about, assuming that all the other technical requirements are taken care of. 
How many people actually make it to the Assessment Centre? Roughly four times the number of candidates for each language profile. Tests are done in Languages 1, 2 & 3. The location is online or in person.

ASSESSMENT CENTRE TASKS

What happens in the Assessment Centre?

Four types of exercises:

  1. COMPETENCY-BASED INTERVIEW

    • The CBI, a pretty classic format. Many candidates already have quite a bit of understanding about it. As the name suggests it’s competency based. What are those competencies that you are evaluated on? There are eight competencies such as Leadership, Communication, Working with Others, Organising & Prioritising, Analysing & Problem-Solving, Resilience and a few others. This is all public information. We also have a lot of free E-books and webinars, (and training sessions) on this topic that you may want to look up to get a deeper understanding of how it works.
    • This is a structured interview where the assessors will ask you questions and you need to come up with answers drawing from your own professional background, situations that can demonstrate those competencies they evaluate you on.
  2. SITUATIONAL COMPETENCY-BASED INTERVIEW (SCBI)

    • If you’d like to hear more about this, look up the webinar we did not long ago, (EPSO Assessment Centre Q&A) where we go into depth about this component of the Assessment Centre. 
    • In a nutshell, you’re given a background file a week or two before your online session. You are then asked questions about what you would do on the basis of the situation that you are presented with in the file. This is why it is a ‘situational’ test. It’s not about your background. It’s about how you would act if you were in that role that is outlined in the dossier. 
    • It’s slightly different, because the way you approach a problem is the most important aspect. Then again, this is something that has a methodology, you can practice for it. We are willing to guide you in that process, but there is a lot of literature out there too if you feel like googling around. 
  3. ORAL PRESENTATION

    • This is a little unique. The Oral Presentation is probably going to be online unless by the time it’s due the situation will be so much better and traveling to Brussels or possibly Luxembourg, is possible and you can do it in person. 
    • What does it look like? 
    • We’ll get to it in a second because there’s more information about that. 
  4. SUMMARY of L1 TEXT INTO L3

    • This is a summary of a legal text written in Language 3 which you then have to summarise in Language 1.
    • It’s somewhat reading comprehension. It’s not a translation, it is a summary of a text.

ASSESSMENT CENTRE SCORING

Let’s take a closer look at the scores you need to reach.

EIGHT GENERAL COMPETENCIES

  • Pass mark 40/80
  • Each worth 10 points
  • Which means at least three points per competency

FIELD-RELATED ORAL PRESENTATION

  • Pass mark 20/30

The reason why it is rather unique is because some parts of it relate to the general competencies like Communication, Resilience, Analysing & Problem-Solving. But other parts of the Oral Presentation relate to your field-specific competencies. Unfortunately EPSO doesn’t give any more information about this. 

Essentially, there’s a bit of a grey line between the term competency and knowledge. Whenever we speak about the Assessment Centre we typically distinguish these two. Knowledge is pretty much everything you can google. Competency is your skill set.

But here, when we talk about domain-specific or field-related competencies there’s a bit of a grey line between these two. You need to have solid knowledge of EU law. In most cases you need to have a fairly good understanding of national law related to the language you have chosen.

I’m speculating a little here, I’m careful about giving you very specific advice before we learn more about it,  but the chances are this is more knowledge-driven and they may ask questions about EU case law, they may ask you about the principles of the acquis communautaire, or they may ask about certain principles linked to the Four Freedoms. There may be questions that are much more knowledge-based, rather than competency-based, despite what it is being called at this point. Because they will test you on that. You do need to have that legal knowledge and not just be a highly competent person in the sense that you have all the right competencies. 

When you are preparing for this phase I encourage you to revise all the core principles of EU law, even look up certain civil / criminal / administrative law ideas or principles from the legal system which your language covers. You want to be prepared for getting these questions. They are probably not going to ask you what the French civil code says about this or that, but maybe about certain principles linked to it. Whether in a direct fashion, e.g. ‘What does this principle say?’, or ‘How would you approach this problem, how would you look at it from this angle?’

The pass mark here is rather high. 

FIELD-RELATED SUMMARY (L1 & L3)

  • Pass mark 30/60

Those who get the highest overall scores will make it onto the Reserve List.

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RESERVE LIST (47:35)

I’ll take a few questions here:

Q: There’s no indicated timetable for this competition. Any idea when the psychometric testing will be scheduled? 
A: One thing we know for sure is the application deadline, right? The 23rd of February 2021. I’d say probably late March, early April, as a rough guess. But it all depends on the covid situation, depends on planning issues that the institutions have, or the Prometric test centres have - there are a lot of moving parts involved. I’d say roughly four to six weeks after the application deadline is when you can start to book computer-based tests in the test centres. Then again, you have Easter in early April 2021, it might get pushed back to mid or late April. Hard to guess beyond that. 
When the translation test and the assessment centre might take place - it gets probably closer to the summer, July-ish or perhaps even September. Very rough guesses, but we will probably know more once the application deadline has passed they will then see how many candidates there are and then they will release some communication about the planning. 

Q: Which language do we have to complete the application in? Any tips on what is advantageous?
A: As far as I’m aware you can complete it in any of the EU’s 24 languages. From a practical standpoint, if you’re comfortable with English, then probably I would just choose English, just for simplicity’s sake. Because afterwards if anyone looks at your profile, chances are English will be understood. Now, for whatever reason, you’re more comfortable with another language, then of course you can do that, but from a practical standpoint it might be less advisable to fill it in with a language which is less widely known. 
Again, with the caveat - unless it is otherwise stated. They might state that you must fill in the application in English, French or German, because these are the three official working languages of the institutions. Then you must follow that rule. And then you’d probably want to pick English. 

Q: Is academic achievement a plus?
A: Again, it can potentially be a plus at the moment of recruitment but not within the framework of the competition. 
From the recruiter’s perspective academic publications show you have good writing skills which is actually a very important part of the job, that might be a plus. 

Q: Is previous working experience in a particular EU institution advantageous?
A: Again, same answer - possibly since you know a little bit more about how the EU institutions work can help in your preparation and your exam performance and potentially at the moment of recruitment. But again, it’s more important that you have expertise in the field, that you have good legal and linguistic knowledge. 
If you did, for example, an internship at the Commission’s DG Trade it does not have a direct impact on the quality of work you can potentially perform. In that regard it may not give you any particular plus, even at recruitment.

Q: How do you suggest we train?
A: I’m glad that you asked that because we have quite a few ideas on how you can train:

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HOW TO GET THE JOB? (52:40)

  • Practice a lot! Practice for 10-12 weeks. 
    • This is depending on where you are right now. You’ve probably heard me say this on other webinars - this is like preparing for a sports competition, e.g. Right now I’m not in my best physical condition, so it may take me six months to get totally in shape. Whereas at other times I may be in my best shape, and then I only need a month to focus and become the expert Numerical Reasoning guru. 
    • Typically two to three months of preparation is advised.
  • Make a plan. Whether it’s one hour a day or 10 hours per week
    • The most important thing is to prepare on a regular basis, again just like in sports. You cannot push yourself too strongly because then you’ll have sore muscles. You’ll just burn out if you leave your preparation for the last two weeks. 
    • Space it out, plan it out, be consistent and do it on a regular basis. 
  • Learn the methodology
    • This is very important. There is a method to it. There are ways to solve Numerical, Abstract, Verbal reasoning tests efficiently, in respect to the limited time you are given. You can find the right answers with methods and shortcuts to quickly process the information. There is more to it than just practicing as much as you can. When it comes to translation - it also has its own methodology. When it comes to the Assessment Centre, even more so. Interview skills, presentation skills, which is rather unique these days because you are staring at a plastic or metal device called the webcam and not really the eyes of the interviewer - so you want to practice this, you want to make sure the dynamic flows properly despite being in a room all by yourself.
    • We have a lot of resources, much of them free, others are premium because there is a lot of good, expert advice. I encourage you to check those out and read up on it so you are performing in your best shape.
  • Persistence is key! 
    • This means not giving up. Perhaps you want to form a study group with colleagues or others, even though, formally speaking, you might be competitors - it does help with keeping the motivation high. 
  • Do lots of test simulations as part of your preparation.
    • Get comfortable with the interface and the tests, to the extent that you are not surprised when you face the test for the first time at the test centre.

 

We are here to help you! Certainly we have thousands if not tens of thousands of test questions.

SIMULATED PRACTICE TESTS

  • Verbal Reasoning - 19 LANGUAGES!
  • Numerical Reasoning
  • Abstract Reasoning 
  • Language Comprehension - 13 LANGUAGES

 

WEBINARS

A WEALTH OF RESOURCES:
We are very happy to help you through our Customer Service, through events like this one, to answer your questions. My colleagues are very competent, they’ve seen a lot of questions over the years, they are very happy to answer any questions you may have. Obviously that’s completely free of charge. We are here as a resource and your preparation partner.

JOIN AN EPSO COMMUNITY
There are some EPSO groups that you may want to join, to share ideas and rumours:

 

BOOKS
You might want to check out the latest addition of my EU Test Book

  • The Ultimate EU Test Book - Administrators 2020
  • The Ultimate EU Test Book - Assessment Centre 2020

We’re planning a new edition of the Assessment Centre book, slightly updated especially for the Situational Competency-Based Interview. That should be out in two to three months. By the time you get to the Assessment Centre that should be on the bookshelves.

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QUESTIONS PLEASE 

Q: Are there objective criteria when they mark the translations?
A: I’ve answered this to some degree already. There are certainly key indicators that they will look at. I won’t repeat it here, but you can go back in the webinar or the transcript to find it. This is just to say there is a method to it. There are 5-10 indicators that they look for, and each indicator has its score value, which is then added up.

Typically there would be two people correcting a given translation and if there is a large discrepancy between the scores they give then a third person comes in to help find the ultimate score.

It is as objective as it can be, based on a written test which is not structured to the degree that a multiple choice test could be. 

Q: Does EU Training provide practice material regarding translation?
A: No, unfortunately we don’t. My advice is to take a legal text, and that could be a press release from the court’s website, or very specifically a legal text like a parliamentary resolution or a court case, and translate that yourself. That’s perhaps the first step.

The second step would be to do it under time pressure. Use a timer, make sure to simulate the exam environment, and don’t use a dictionary, which is probably the hardest part. 

Take it in steps. Again, you can join up with colleagues or others to review each other’s work. Just like in academic settings, it’s called a peer review. Perhaps each of you does a separate translation, then you cross check for each other, then give feedback. This is a good way of practicing. 

Another way, which is actually a win-win situation, you start working for a translation agency as a freelancer a couple of hours a week, and offer your services for legal texts, even at a lower fee. You can not only earn some money, but you can also prepare for the competition. 

THANK YOU FOR PARTICIPATING

Thank you so much for joining today’s session! 

If you have a question I didn’t cover yet then we’ll try to follow up in some way. If you have a more pressing issue send us an email. 

This was a pleasure, feel free to share the recording and all these materials that we’ve made available.

Wishing you good luck for the exam. Take your preparation seriously, it’s a tough competition, but ultimately a really interesting career path. Also, as I said, it’s really beneficial, because you start at a higher grade than almost all other competitions, which is something to take advantage of.

Thank you so much, stay safe and see you at our next webinar!