This is the complete recording and presentation of the 2021 EPSO Proofreader / Language Editor Exams - Information Webcast (EPSO/AST/148/20 - IT, PT, GA, ET, ES, EL)
You can access the 2021 EPSO Proofreaders/Language Editors Notice of Competition here
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Transcript Quick Links
ABOUT EU TRAINING
WHERE WILL YOU WORK?
Q&A PART 1
ARE YOU ELIGIBLE?
Q&A PART 2
WHY IS THIS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY?
HOW TO GET ONE OF THESE JOBS
Q&A PART 3
HOW TO GET THE JOB?
Q&A PART 4
Sound check, greetings and introduction (00:00-04:50)
Presenter: Andras Baneth
- EU Training co-founder, author of The Ultimate EU Test Book, Former EU Official
ABOUT EU TRAINING (03:56)
And just a few words about EU Training, you may already know about our services and our community. We are the market leader when it comes to EU Selection preparation and EU jobs.
- We have a beautiful 100,000 strong community. Many thousands of which are already EU officials, which we are very proud of that we could help them master the exams and pass the selection process.
- We are present on Facebook with a huge community there as well, 55,000+ fans and followers. In the various Facebook groups you can ask your friends and peers about the exams, rumours, preparation resources and best practices.
Then, we are happy to offer a huge number of resources.
- We have a database of 25,000 questions, in 19 languages, which is something that can prove very beneficial, even the language diversity of the various EPSO competitions.
- Over 17 million questions have been used
- There are lots of webinars you might, similar to this one, both on information and on the process.
- We also have methodology webinars to master reasoning tests, language.
- Over 100 hours of free and paid webinars.
- 10,000+ people have participated in our webinars.
As a legal disclaimer I just want to add that we tell you everything to the best of our knowledge based on all the official sources that are available. The true, number one source, however, for official information is EPSO and the Selection Board’s communication made available to you through your EPSO profile.
WHERE WILL YOU WORK? (05:25)
With that, let’s get into this competition - Proofreaders AST3 level. I will say a few words about what that actually means in practical and administrative terms, where you will be in the EU’s bureaucratic system in terms of salary and other aspects.
Perhaps the first most relevant question is ‘Where will you work?’ once you succeed in the competition and are recruited as an AST proofreader.
The place of work for this particular competition is Luxembourg. Which means that even if you are currently based in Brussels, or you will have to move from another country, the destination is Luxembourg and no other place - for this particular competition.
You might be wondering - if you actually get hired and you start working at the European Parliament or at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, then could you at one point relocate, or could you at some point work elsewhere, perhaps in the same job, or perhaps in a couple of years in a different job? Technically and administratively, this is possible. After two, three or so years, you can keep your salary and status and you can move to another place of work within the EU institutional set up, or perhaps even into another job profile.
Obviously though, your main objective right now is being a proofreader. Again, your place of work at the time of recruitment is going to be Luxembourg.
WHAT WILL YOU DO?
What will you actually do? You probably already have the expertise and know what proofreaders actually do. Now, what does that mean in the EU context?
As a source of information we have the Notice of Competition, and in that they tell you the following, what you can see on the screen:
- Perform linguistic tasks, including executive and technical duties in the language of the competition.
- This means you will assist translators, perhaps policy makers, perhaps lawyers, in their drafting of various documents of all sorts that the EU deals with.
- At the Court of Justice these will essentially be judgements and various other forms of official documents.
- At the European Parliament it’s as diverse as it gets, from resolutions, legislative drafts, reports to internal documents.
- Certainly it will be in the language of the competition, this is something we will come back to.
- Proofread manuscripts, check translated texts for consistency (linguistic style and grammar), prepare and check proofs for publication in various formats and media.
- This, I think, is the core task of a proofreader, in any setting, not just in the EU.
- Check for coherence, uniformity, compliance with stylistic conventions and rules.
- There is a style guide which is something you may want to look up to familiarise yourself with the way they work. I’m not sure what the style guide is based on, journalistic or publishing house style guides perhaps. But I’m sure a lot of work has gone into it to make sure documents are consistent in form, content, style and fluidity, across the board.
- This is a massive undertaking, if you think about the EU’s 24 official languages, the huge variety of texts, how they draft those texts and keep them consistent with the style guide across all the institutions.
- Take part in terminology work and in the quality control process for translations of documents
- With terminology you have to make sure that the same word is used consistently throughout a text. Then you have to make sure that new terms are translated consistently, whether it’s a judgement or a press release.
Let’s look at the number of positions available and the languages that are being offered. You probably already know that there are six languages posted currently. These are the six languages in which you can take the exams. You must choose only one. You cannot choose two, you cannot combine any of them, you must choose one of the six. That choice has to be final for the sake of this particular competition.
The language choice is relatively flexible, because it’s no longer linked to your passport. For example if you happen to be an Estonian citizen who grew up in the UK and currently you live in Spain - these factors are somewhat irrelevant to your language choice. I say somewhat, because there are some formal rules that you need to consider. We will go through those soon.
What truly matters is how well you know a given language and in which language you obtained your diploma. Your high school diploma or the GRE which gives you access to post-secondary education. Then that post-secondary education, meaning a university degree, typically a three-year bachelor’s degree. Which language did you conduct these studies in, that is what has an impact. But the passport that you hold, or how many years you actually lived in a given country, those are not factors that matter, which is good.
If you master a language and you have obtained a degree in that language and you have professional experience in that language then your past doesn’t really matter, and your citizenship doesn’t really matter - as long as you have an EU passport. That is obviously a formal requirement.
You can choose any of the following languages:
- Estonian Language Profile: 11
- Greek Language Profile: 17
- Irish Language Profile: 18
- Italian Language Profile: 14
- Portuguese Language Profile: 17
- Spanish Language Profile: 18
*This competition covers six language profiles and you can only apply to one.
For each language there’s a different number of places on the Reserve List. The Reserve List is made up of those candidates who passed all the phases in the competition. You become recruitable once you are on the Reserve List. You need to be on the Reserve List in order to be hired by one of the EU Institutions, or in this particular case, we know up front that it’s the European Parliament or the European Court of Justice.
If you are in a position that you can choose from multiple languages because you’ve mastered a couple of languages on a native level, maybe your mom is Italian and your dad is Portuguese and you speak both languages fluently, then it’s entirely up to you. You can evaluate your chances, optimize your chances, and choose the best possible scenario.
Incidentally, I got a question from a friend of mine, who was asking about the language combinations, similar to what I just described. It was in a different competition’s context, but it’s applicable here too. She knows four languages, which is pretty impressive. She knows three of them really well, but one of them less well. She was asking if she should choose French, which was her weakest, and by the time of the exams she would learn it well enough, because perhaps knowing French is more important and can increase the likelihood of getting hired. Or should she just choose one of the languages she knows really well, and then later mention, by the time of recruitment, that her French is now at a much higher level, which then may have an impact on my employment prospects.
My answer was, choose your strongest language right now because you want to focus on passing the exams first and foremost. Then once you are on the Reserve List you can focus on actually getting the job.
If you have that liberty and luxury of speaking multiple languages really well, then pick one in which you truly excel and with which you can pass the competition with the greatest likelihood.
I’ll pause to take a few questions here:
Q: Working for the EU Institutions is there any possibility for smart work from home?
A: That’s a very good question, not exactly related to this competition but generally if you’re an EU official how flexibly can you work from home? Before the pandemic this was somewhat limited, mainly because of the confidential nature of the documents, that needed to be handled in a secure environment, or just limited access to documents, again, because of the sensitive nature of the documents you may have been dealing with.
Now, given the situation surrounding the pandemic, I’m sure these rules have massively changed. These are currently temporary measures. But chances are these new policies will stay on in one form or another, even when the pandemic passes.
I can’t say certainly, but I see a very strong likelihood that even when the pandemic situation has become somewhat more manageable, in a few months or who knows, even then you will have more opportunities to work from home or in a more flexible environment not needing to go into the office all the time. You would still probably have to be in the office a couple days a week or perhaps every second week.
Living in another country and commuting to Luxembourg - that I don’t know about yet. Honestly I cannot tell you anything meaningful in that regard. Maybe it could happen, but from the perspective of logistics and confidentiality, teamwork, and a host of other challenges, this is yet to be seen. It is, however, not excluded, because the pandemic has really triggered a shift.
Q: Would a Master’s diploma from Spain and a Bachelor’s from another country allow me to enter the competition in the Spanish language profile?
A: I presume yes, but I can’t say with 100% certainty. But I presume yes, because that is a diploma, even if it’s not a foundational degree, but you did get a degree in Spanish. But please double check this with the Selection Board just to make sure that you are not disqualified.
APPLY BEFORE 23 MARCH 2021
The application deadline - this is pretty straightforward - 23rd of March. There’s still more than a month until then. Make sure you don’t leave the application until the last moment. Please sign up at least a couple of days before and fill out everything that needs to be filled out, then double check your profile that you ticked the right boxes. Do everything you need to - but not in the last moments before it’s due.
ARE YOU ELIGIBLE?(17:08)
This is a really important part of the competition. It has a broad formal part and perhaps a less formal, more individual part to it. What are the general conditions you need to meet in order to be eligible?
- Must have EU citizenship
- Completed military service requirements
- If this is still obligatory and required in your country. There aren’t many European countries anymore where this is a prerequisite.
- Meet the character requirements of the job, so if you have a criminal record that might be a problem.
Other than that, I have actually not come across any cases where someone was rejected based on these general criteria. Typically, this part doesn’t cause any trouble for candidates.
Then comes the more interesting, or perhaps more personal aspect of the eligibility. This is choosing a language and the language rules. And not just the language, as we heard in the previous question, which degree do you have and in which language did you get that degree.
- Language of the competition (C2 level - perfect knowledge)
- Must be English OR French (minimum B2 level)
- Any of the 24 official EU languages as long as it’s different from Language 1 and Language 2 (minimum C1 level)
You need to choose a Language 1 from one of the six languages listed earlier, and it has to be C2 level which basically means fluent, mother tongue level. You need to be absolutely fluent in this language, understand the grammar rules, be able to draft documents without mistakes, you really need to master this particular language.
Then you have Language 2 which needs to be English or French, and, obviously, different from Language 1. In this case we don’t need to emphasise this because none of the six language profiles are English or French.
This is where it gets a little tricky but not too much. It’s fairly standard the way the formal qualifications are presented. There are two options. Option 1:
- Post-secondary education attested by a diploma.
PLUS a minimum of three years professional experience in a field directly related to the nature of the duties described in the Notice of Competition.
You need to have worked at least three years in a job that is fully comparable to the tasks that you will be required to perform as an EU official proofreader.
- The Diploma + Professional Experience must have been gained in the chosen language of the competition.
If you choose Estonian, then your diploma and three years relevant experience need to have been obtained and conducted in Estonian. This is a very important aspect. To the previous question, my presumption was that having a second diploma, a Master’s, in Spanish and having three years relevant experience in Spanish would qualify you. But given the difference between a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree, I would be cautious and ask the Selection Board.
Then the diploma giving access to post-secondary education (your high school degree, or equivalent) must have been gained in the chosen language of the competition.
There is a bit of variation here. If you went to high school in one country but then you did your university studies in another, there is a bit of leeway to play around with. Just make sure you have all the officially required documents and everything is properly issued in a given language.
- Secondary education attested by a diploma giving access to post secondary education.
PLUS a minimum of six years professional experience. Of this three years must be in a field directly related to the nature of the duties described in the Notice of Competition.
This is about a high school diploma. You have a degree that gives you access to university studies but you don’t need to have those university studies. Basically, this is a secondary education attested by a diploma, and there is no Bachelor’s, Master’s, any university degree in this scenario.
Then you need to have six years of work experience, of which three years are relevant to the nature of the duties of this competition.
- The Diploma + Professional Experience must have been gained in the chosen language of the competition.
I’ll pause here to take a few of the many questions I see here:
Q: Are all candidates on the Reserve List recruitable, or just some of them?
A: All candidates who are on the Reserve List can be recruited. Once your name appears on the Reserve List, because you passed all the different stages of the competition, you can be hired by, legally speaking, any of the EU Institutions. Practically speaking, this competition is for two institutions, those will be the ones recruiting you.
Will everyone from the Reserve List be hired? Probably not. This may be a little surprising / intimidating / disappointing. However, some candidates end up on the Reserve List and for whatever reason they decide not to take the job. This might happen because life circumstances change, personal reasons, moving to another continent - who knows?
This is why there is a bit of margin that the institutions take into account. If they need 15 people, then they might advertise for 18 people, because roughly 10-20% may not be hired. I’ve seen statistics though, and over 90% of people on the Reserve List do actually get hired.
Therefore, once you are on the Reserve List and you do have a strong desire to be hired, sooner or later you almost certainly will be.
By the way, we have a webinar called ‘How to Get an EU Job Once You Are On the Reserve List’. Make sure to check that out. I share lots of ideas and tips about what you can do on your end to be hired as quickly as possible.
Q: Can one be recruited elsewhere, like in Brussels, if a successful candidate? I’m already an official but in AST-SC.
A: As I said in the beginning, legally speaking you could be hired, yes. Once you’re on the Reserve List you can be hired for any administratively relevant job. If you passed an AST3 competition then you can be hired for an AST3 job by any institution.
There’s certainly an internal agreement, or an internal understanding between the institutions that if there’s a dedicated competition for Proofreaders, where the ECJ and the European Parliament are looking for proofreaders, then the European Commission is not going to poach those candidates from the Reserve List. Again, legally you could be, but practically speaking you will not be.
Having said that, with time, usually after two to three years, according to staff regulations and depending on vacancies, the possibility to transit into another job profile while keeping your administrative status. That other job profile might be in another city, or country for that matter, perhaps Brussels instead of Luxembourg.
Whether the internal discussions and office politics allow for this is a different matter, but at least in administrative terms you should be able to do that.
Q: Does a Master’s Degree in Linguistics count as professional experience?
A: I don’t think so, because an educational degree is a degree and professional experience is actual, paid work. Having a degree, however relevant the degree is (Linguistics), it will not count as relevant work experience.
Q: Are you sanctioned if you apply to an open competition but do not meet all the requirements?
A: No. As long as you are truthful and honest in your declarations you’re never going to be punished. You are not going to falsify documents, at least I hope you won’t. If you think your two and a half years experience might be accepted as three years, and you make the declaration truthfully, you won’t be punished, you simply won’t qualify for not meeting the formal criteria for the competition. You certainly want to convince the Selection Board of certain facts and when we get to the Talent Screener which is a questionnaire which is part of the application process - there you will have to make declarations and certain statements about your background experience. As long as you make honest declarations, you may not qualify but it will not have any negative repercussions.
As a general rule, you can apply for any number of EU competitions, as long as you meet the formal eligibility criteria. You apply for this competition and you may not qualify, but if there is a similar one in a month, you can still apply. Even right now there are different competitions being run in parallel, you can apply for all of them as long as you meet the formal requirements as well as the competition-based criteria, meaning you pass the different steps in the selection process.
WHY IS THIS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY? (31:58)
And just a few words about why this is a great opportunity. I probably don’t need to preach to the converted, but a couple of words about why these jobs tend to be very attractive.
- ATTRACTIVE SALARIES
- Salaries are pretty good, depending on what you’re comparing it to, and the ‘Purchase Price Parity’ - this nice term from economics, which means how much is your money worth in a given place.
- Salary for AST3 is around 3,700 euros.
- If you have to relocate from another country then you are eligible for expatriate allowance.
- There are different factors including whether you have a family with kids, or other aspects of your personal status.
- The reason I mention PPP (Purchase Price Parity) is because the job is in Luxembourg, which needs to be taken into account. Still, this is an attractive salary for this kind of position.
- GOOD BENEFITS
- If you are passionate about proofreading and the kind of things that the job entails, then there is much more than simply the salary because there are various other benefits including job satisfaction.
- Having a permanent, long-term, open-ended contract and being an EU official offers job security.
- There are benefits in terms of health insurance as well, and if you have children then they can go to European schools, and there are other perks that come with the job.
HOW TO GET ONE OF THESE JOBS? (32:50)
The main question now is how should you prepare, what is required of you to get one of these jobs?
STEP 1 - APPLICATION PROCESS
- Fill out the EPSO profile, the eligibility declaration
- Pick your Language 1, 2 & 3 based on those considerations I’ve shared with you.
- Then you submit your application in one of the 24 official EU languages
- Then you fill out all the other things you need to fill out, one of them being the Talent Screener
- Be careful, because the Talent Screener, despite being part of the application process, can only be filled out in English or French. Not in Estonian, Gaelic, or Finnish or any other language except those two.
- The deadline is 23rd of March 2021, as you already know. Don’t leave it to the last moment.
But then comes, perhaps, an even harder part. What is it you have to do to prepare, what about the talent screener, what is it, how can I optimise my answers?
Before we go on, I’ll take a few more of the questions coming in:
Q: Is it possible to indicate a qualification in the application that I will obtain in June 2021?
A: I would need to double check in the Notice of Competition. They might say that you need to have whatever documents and proof by the deadline for the application. Typically that is the rule, that by the 23rd of March you need to have all the necessary documents in hand and not by the end of the competition.
You can also look this up in the Notice of Competition.
If something is in process (like a degree) right now, chances are that it may not qualify.
Q: How easy is it to get hired if you have a Bachelor’s in Linguistics, but no experience at all in the sector? I’m already working in the European Commission as a temporary agent, as an assistant to the director.
A: Based on this very short description of your situation to me it seems you are not eligible for this competition. If you have a Linguistics BA but you don’t have relevant work experience then that’s not going to fly. In both cases you need to have three, or in the other option six, years of experience.
If you already have your BA, that means you need three years of relevant experience. If you have none, I don’t think that’s going to qualify you for the competition. Make sure to check your background whether you could prove you’ve done relevant tasks in your current job. But based on this very brief description, it doesn’t seem sufficient.
Q: How can we prove three years relevant experience if we worked as freelance proofreaders and translators and don’t have a permanent job that proves our experience?
A: Freelance is absolutely fine. It will not make your application any weaker or less substantiated if you are not an employee but you’re a freelancer. Proving it may be a little more difficult. You can create a list of the type of documents and topics you’ve dealt with. You can create a detailed description of the kind of detailed linguistic tasks that you have performed as a freelancer. You can even show a company register where you are registered as a freelance translator or proofreader or language editor. Anything that proves what you are doing, perhaps a website. And when it comes to payment, you can show you have been paying social security as a registered freelancer for at least three years. You can triangulate the information and show the proof points that you have actually been performing relevant tasks for a certain amount of years, and that you’ve been paid for it.
It should entirely be possible to prove even if you are not an employee.
Okay, I will now get back to the Talent Screener.
WHAT IS A TALENT SCREENER?
I am wondering how many of you have had to fill in a Talent Screener in any other context. I’m presuming the vast majority of those listening to this presentation have not had the fortune, misfortune or the pleasure of dealing with a Talent Screener. It’s typically part of any so-called Specialist competition. Whenever there is a specialist competition, whether it’s Sustainable Agriculture, which is actually going on right now, or some others that are coming up in Chemicals Policy, or for that matter Proofreaders, EPSO and the Selection Board require candidates to fill out a Talent Screener.
The Talent Screener is a list of open questions that you need to answer truthfully and in detail. It’s not multiple choice, it’s not a computer-based test, it is a long form questionnaire.
I’ll give you a couple of ideas on filling out the Talent Screener. We actually have a webinar dedicated just to the Talent Screener. We also have some free resources including tips and tricks articles on the Talent Screener itself.
HOW DO YOU MAXIMISE YOUR TALENT SCREENER SCORE?
As I said the Talent Screener is an open questionnaire that you want to fill out accurately and truthfully, while also optimising your answers to improve your scoring.
A few tips…
- Try to answer ‘YES’ as much as possible, but only if you can back it up with truthful and relevant information. You want to be positive about your experience , or if you have dealt with a certain kind of task. Do try to say yes to as many questions as possible, because your scores depend on these answers. Make sure whatever you declare has roots in reality.
- Provide lots of valuable information, but give only relevant and meaningful answers. Leave out space fillers. You can use bullet points with different items in your list, but back up the information with references and very concrete ideas. E.g. “I’ve dealt with a great variety of texts and I’ve done thorough proofreading over the years.” This does not cut it. It’s too vague, it’s not specific, there are no dates, no numbers, and no concrete references. Versus “I’ve proofread 148 documents each of which was on average five pages long, dealing with environmental issues, EU law, chemical policy, …” So give very concrete examples of what you have dealt with.
- Concrete vs. Abstract answers. Scores are based on hard evidence - facts, figures, places and dates.
- 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. Try to customise it and make the answer very relevant to that particular question because the assessor, the person actually reading your answers, and it is a human who will be reading it and not a computer, will judge your responses on its merits. They will decide whether to give an answer 0,1,2,3 or 4 points - this is the scoring typically for answers.
- 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
You are a proofreader, you must certainly be aware of the form, shape and style a text has. Make sure that your answers are very easy to read. The editorial part, the layout, the structuring of the information, all of that should be properly taken care of. Perhaps even more than in other competitions given the very nature of this particular topic. And of course, no typos please.
Live up to the standards that you want to present in your future job, because I’m pretty sure that those reading it will comb through your answers with a magnifying glass and eagle eyes to see if they spot any mistakes since these probably count double in your case given the nature of your duties.
- What’s in it for them… make sure to link your personal background and work experience with the needs of the EU or institution you are applying to. This is a little bit marketing and sales, think about what’s in it for them, meaning for EU institutions to hire you as a proofreader. For example if you say ‘I worked as a freelancer dealing with various political declarations through my clients. This could be beneficial for the institutions because I already have this sort of experience which is very similar to the kind of texts that the European Parliament deals with.’
You want to connect your experience with what they are looking for. This is not a job application. This is not a cover letter. Yet, you want to make sure that your professional background and experience is connected to the kind of profile they are looking for. I’m very careful using the word profile, because they are not looking to fill in a particular job, but it’s kind of a proofreader profile in one of these two institutions that they are looking for. Connect your expertise and experience with the kind of persona they are seeking.
- EU institutions and EPSO are formal and terminology-driven. Learn the lingo and use it. Use terminology that they like. Try to get familiar with it. Maybe you want to read the style guide, maybe read a couple of official documents or even look at the commission’s DG T, which is the Directorate General for Translation. They have a wealth of great linguistic information that you can look at to familiarise yourself with the way they write.
- If you want to write a stellar Talent Screener view this webinar recording:
And then comes the pre-selection exams, but before we get to it let me take a few more questions:
Q: If we answer ‘No’ a lot on the Talent Screener do you think we have less chance?
A: It’s hard to tell. It really depends on the number of ‘Yes’ answers you give in proportion to the ‘No’ and whether those ‘Yes’ answers actually give you maximum points for a given question. I’m not sure how many questions there are in this particular talent screener, I guess around ten or twelve, around there. Let’s suppose there are twelve questions and you answered ‘No’ for four or five of them, but for all the rest you have absolutely ‘Yes’ answers with great proof points and very good presentation of the information, then you get maximum points. You would definitely pass with this sort of performance.
Again, it really depends on the proportions and not just simply a Yes or No answer for any number of questions.
Q: In this competition would it help to have a law background or legal degree? Would experience in drafting agreements in English and Spanish be considered relevant without a linguistic profile?
A: I’m a bit hesitant here. I’m leaning towards no. Having a law background is not linguistic work experience. It needs to be about proofreading. Again, it depends. That’s why I’m not so sure it’s a yes or no, I’m a little skeptical. To a large degree, it does depend on what you actually did and how you present the information. If you were a law clerk in a law office and all you had to do for three years is improve the linguistic, ultimately legal, quality of drafted documents, meaning you had to proof it, edit it, make sure it is accurate, consistent and all the other things that are needed for a well drafted text, it might qualify as a linguistic exercise. Even though no translation was involved, this is not a translators exam, this is a proofreaders exam. If your job was essentially correcting and improving texts then you might be able to ‘sell’ it.
But if your work was purely about you individually drafting legal submissions or working as a full time lawyer going to court or working with state administration, then I’m not sure that would qualify.
Q: What does ‘directly related’ exactly mean?
A: Going back to the answer I just gave, if you were working on those legal documents (as described above), from a linguistic perspective that is directly related (to duties described in the NoC), but if you were working first and foremost as a lawyer but the linguistic aspect was secondary or tertiary, I don’t think that would qualify as directly related to the kind of tasks that this competition describes.
This analogy can be used for other situations, not just for lawyers, depending on what your job actually entailed.
Q: They are asking for a lot of experience for an AST post. Is this normal?
A: For AST they always ask for experience. They always want some relevant work experience. So that is normal. Three years vs. six years is relatively normal. Having a high school degree and then six years, or a university degree and three years, there is nothing particularly off about that in this competition, it’s fairly standard. Maybe the use of a Talent Screener in an AST competition is less common. But proofreading is a special skill, special knowledge and special area. It’s not about general clerical tasks, or general project management. So I wouldn’t label the requirements for this competition as out of the ordinary.
STEP 2 - PRE-SELECTION CBT EXAM
I would presume that most of you are somewhat familiar with what the computer-based tests mean and the pre-selection tests:
- Verbal Reasoning
- Numerical Reasoning
- Abstract Reasoning
- Language Comprehension
These exams might be held as part of the Assessment Centre, or they might be held before, depending on how many candidates there are. If there are a large number of candidates then it will be used as a ‘pre-selection’ test. If there aren’t so many candidates then they just want you to pass with the minimum score and it’s part of the Assessment Centre. It depends on initially how many applicants there are, for this particular competition, or more specifically, for a given language profile.
1. VERBAL REASONING
- Administered in Language 1
- 20 questions
- 35 minutes to complete it
You can take free practice tests on our website. EPSO has free practice tests on their website. There’s a wealth of materials like free webinars, methodology webinars, so I do encourage you to check those out.
2. NUMERICAL REASONING
- Administered in Language 1
- 10 questions
- 20 minutes to complete it
3. ABSTRACT REASONING
- Administered in Language 1
- 10 questions
- 10 minutes to complete it
3. LANGUAGE COMPREHENSION
- Administered in Language 2
- 24 questions
- 60 minutes to complete it
- Two sets of 12 questions each
- 30 minutes to complete each set
This is a computer-based test with multiple choice options. The interesting thing here is that you have two sets of questions, and each set has 12 questions each, all together 24 questions. Then you have 60 minutes total. Which is pretty good. But then again, time flies in this context where you need to read a text and you need to understand it at a deeper level, then find the correct answer from among the offered options. You basically get 30 minutes of each set of 12. You still need to be relatively fast, but here you do have a bit more time.
The way it works is that you have a bit of a verbal reasoning element to it, this means logic, interpreting what is presented to you. Then there is an element of verbal comprehension, do you understand the text that is presented to you? Thirdly, there is verbal fluency, which is about how well you understand the broader concept, not just the words.
The good news is that we actually have lots of tests on our website that you can practice and you can get familiar with the interface. This is something you can practice and be fully prepared in advance.
Here is the scoring guide:
VERBAL REASONING (0/20)
- Pass mark: 10/20
- The verbal reasoning is a stand alone, you need have at least ten points out of twenty
NUMERICAL REASONING (0/10)
ABSTRACT REASONING (0/10)
- Pass mark: the two above COMBINED 10/20
- This is good, because if you are not very good at abstract reasoning, you can still make up for some of it in the numerical reasoning.
LANGUAGE COMPREHENSION (0/48)
- Pass mark: 28/48
You need to have a little more than 60%. This is the minimum score you need to reach.
The pass mark is enough - but only for the numerical and abstract Reasoning tests, which is ten out of twenty. But for verbal reasoning and language comprehension you need to perform well and be in the top-scoring candidates in order to pass to the next stage. So for these you are truly competing with others. But for the numerical and abstract you just need to kind of show that you are able to pass the minimum score.
STEP 3 - TALENT SCREENER REVIEW
I’ve already talked quite a bit about the Talent Screener.
Those who got the highest scores in the computer-based tests and make it through the Eligibility Check will have their Talent Screener reviewed.
Step 4 - ASSESSMENT CENTRE
Then comes the Assessment Centre. This is the next phase and consists of different types of exams. Approximately three times the number of candidates sought will be invited. Tests are in Language 1 & 2. Location of the tests will be online, but some may be in person.
ASSESSMENT CENTRE TASKS
Typically in the Assessment Centre you have tasks like the ones you see on the screen.
Four types of exercises:
- CASE STUDY
- COMPETENCY-BASED INTERVIEW
- SITUATIONAL COMPETENCY-BASED INTERVIEW (SCBI)
- PROOFREADING TEST in L1 & L2
This is actually doing the job as part of the exam to demonstrate you are able to reach a very high score.
This you will actually have to do in Language 1 and Language 2. Language 1 being one of those six, and Language 2 is English or French.
These days these are done online, and you can do them from anywhere. We have our beautiful studio right here that is available to use for candidates who need a space with a good microphone, camera, lighting and strong wifi, then you can rent this place. But, you can do this from anywhere in the world, as long as certain basic technical and logistical criteria are met.
ASSESSMENT CENTRE SCORING
There is a minimum score, but it is a competition, so you do need to perform well enough to pass to the next stage, compared to the other candidates.
SEVEN GENERAL COMPETENCIES
- Pass mark 35/70
- Each worth 10 points
FIELD-RELATED TEST Part 1
- Pass mark 30/50
FIELD-RELATED TEST Part 2
- Pass mark 30/50
Those who get the highest overall scores will make it onto the Reserve List.
SUCCESS! RESERVE LIST (57:18)
- The number of places on the Reserve List
- Reserve lists usually have a one year validity
- This is when the actual recruitment can happen, when two institutions, in this case, can contact you for an interview. After the interview, you’ll most likely get a job.
HOW TO GET THE JOB? (57:35)
- Practice for 10-12 weeks.
- Practice consistently for a long time, depending on where you are right now. Maybe you're a math genius and you don’t need to practice numerical reasoning, but verbal reasoning and the language comprehension test is something you need to brush up on.
- Make a plan. Prepare regularly
- For one hour a day or ten hours per week
- Learn the methodology.
- Persistence is key!
- Start a study group, practice regularly, it’s a bit like preparing for a sports event where you cannot just start preparing two days before the competition. You need to start well in advance and go ahead in a consistent manner.
- Do lots of test simulations - we offer you lots of those.
Everything is available on our website, in a number of languages. If it’s not available in your language, I believe Estonian is not something we have right now, at least not yet, you can obviously pick any other language to practice the time pressure, the kind of answers you’re required to prepare, etc.
- Verbal Reasoning - 19 LANGUAGES!
- Numerical Reasoning
- Abstract Reasoning
- 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
A WEALTH OF RESOURCES:
We have many other resources, and our colleagues are more than happy to assist you. Send us an email and we’re happy to follow up.
- Free E-Books
- Lots of Tips & Tricks
- Free Demo Tests
- Training Sessions and Simulations
- Personal Coaching
- Via Skype, or face-to-face in Brussels
JOIN AN EPSO COMMUNITY
You can join a Facebook group called ‘EPSO Proofreader & Editor Exams’
That is available for any candidate to share resources, ideas and tips.
You might want to check out the EU Test Books.
- The Ultimate EU Test Book - Administrators 2020
- The Ultimate EU Test Book - Assessment Centre 2020
Actually, the new Assessment Centre one is due to be released in about three weeks.
QUESTIONS PLEASE (1:00:00)
Q: If I have no experience, I have no chance, correct?
A: That is correct. You need to have relevant experience, as stated in the Notice of Competition. Otherwise you will not qualify, you will not be eligible for this particular competition. For other competitions, you may not need any experience. But for this one it is as state in the Notice of Competition.
Q: Can unpaid work at an NGO count as work experience for the purpose of applying? Or does only paid experience count?
A: Typically EPSO, or the Selection Board, would require that you have been remunerated for your work experience to count. However, I am a bit hesitant, because many NGOs would hire you and give you a relevant job but not necessarily pay you. There may be an exception if you worked for a non-profit and you were not paid, but it was still relevant work experience.
If you really want to be sure then contact the Selection Board to get an answer.
However, the main rule is, paid work is considered real work experience. There might be some exceptions.
Q: Where can I buy the latest edition of your AD5 EPSO book? Seems sold out everywhere.
A: Oops, I didn’t know that. You might want to check the publisher’s website, it’s called John Harper Publishing
The website will list the different stores where it’s available, and if it’s not available anywhere, then please send the publisher an email. He’s very responsive and he will tell you where you can get a copy.
Q: Are candidates on the reserve list ranked?
A: That’s a good question. This used to be the case, in large competitions, there were tiers. But, this is not the case anymore. All candidates are just listed there, there’s no ranking any longer. The recruiters from the institutions do not know what your score was. They will probably see your EPSO profile, or perhaps the Assessment Centre evaluation sheet, but that’s not about ranking, it’s more about giving them an idea about your profile.
Q: The last Talent Screener question is about another language certificate. Can we reply yes and declare we know French because we studied it at university? But there is no certificate?
A: I don’t know how they define certificate. Because if you studied in a given language at university, I think that should be proof enough that you know that language well enough to have studied it.
If they require a formal certificate, like a DELF or DELE or any other similar linguistic certificate, then that means you probably need to have that formal paper. But my assumption would be that they would not require such a formal paper. Why would you need to sit another test and get a certificate if you actually have a degree that you obtained in a given language? Check whether they define certificate in the Talent Screener.
Q: For Numerical and Abstract Reasoning the result is combined with the two results but do you necessarily need to pass each test? Or can you maybe fail the numerical reasoning and compensate with the score of the abstract reasoning test?
A: That’s the good news. You can totally fail the numerical and pass the abstract, but then you need to pass the abstract with a full score, meaning ten out of ten for abstract and zero for numerical. Given that it’s combined you need to get the ten points out of twenty, and that is good enough.
Just remember, the more you lose on one end, the more you need to make up for it on the other.
But you can definitely ‘fail’ one of the two, because the scores are combined.
THANK YOU FOR PARTICIPATING
Thank you so much for being here! Thank you to my Budapest team for helping me present.
Hopefully this was all helpful, relevant, interesting and useful.
Please make sure to spread the word and share this webinar if you have friends or colleagues who are interested.
If you have any follow up questions send us a message, we’re more than happy to assist you.
If there is something we’re not sure about, we’ll be honest with you and tell you, making sure that you get the most relevant and reliable information.
Please do take your preparation seriously, because there are not many places, though still enough to give you a very good chance of getting one of these positions. Work hard and you will reach your dream job and your goals of becoming a proofreader with the EU.