2021 EPSO Specialist Competitions - Information Webcast | EU Training

2021 EPSO Specialist Competitions - Information Webcast

This is the complete recording and presentation of the 2021 EPSO Specialist Competitions - Information Webcast.

Presentation slides

Transcript - click here

You can access the 2021 EPSO Administrators In Chemicals Policy Notice of Competition here
You can access the 2021 EPSO Nuclear Inspectors Notice of Competition here

Want to join the conversation and talk to other candidates about this competition? 
Join the EPSO Administrators in Chemicals Policy Exams Facebook Group.
Join the Nuclear Inspectors EPSO Exams Facebook Group.

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Webcast TRANSCRIPT

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

INTRODUCTION

INTRO - Introduction, greetings and sound check (00:00-02:50)

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

A warm welcome to all those joining the live webcast, or you might be watching the recording. This is Andras Baneth from Brussels and I will be covering the Notice of Competitions for two very exciting competitions launched by the European Personnel Selection Office. One is for Chemicals Policy and the other is for Nuclear Inspectors. These are very unique and quite extraordinary competitions. Not in terms of what the requirements are, because those are pretty classic, but for the kind of positions that they are selecting candidates for. It’s not every day that the EU is looking for nuclear inspectors or experts in chemical policy.
Let’s get started!

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ABOUT EU TRAINING

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.

OUR COMMUNITY

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  • You might also want to check out our webinars which are there to provide a deep dive into certain topics.
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  • Over 100 hours of free and paid webinars.

Let’s actually get into the main topic which is essentially the two competitions, chemicals policy and the one for nuclear inspectors. There’s really no reason why we grouped these two together other than the fact that they were launched pretty much at the same time by EPSO and both are so-called ‘specialist’ competitions. They are, however, completely independent of each other. And if you actually have the profile then you may as well apply for both. Now I don’t know if you are a chemicals expert and a nuclear inspector, if you fit both of those profiles, but again these are two completely separate competitions. Anyone can apply for either or both as long as you meet the criteria. 

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WHERE WILL YOU WORK? (05:37)

Where you are going to work is probably a fundamental question when deciding whether to apply for a competition or not. 
For the Chemicals Policy competition the place of work is going to be Brussels because when you are successful (see that is how positive I am, I say ‘when’ and not ‘if’), and you are on the Reserve List then you can be recruited and hired by the European Commission. More specifically, they mention DG GROW which is a DG for small and medium enterprises in industry. You can also be hired by DG ENERGY, so there are different places within the commission that may hire you.

When it comes to the Nuclear Inspectors the place of work is Luxembourg, more specifically DG ENERGY which is where you are likely to be based.
That is something to bear in mind, and I think that article is still up somewhere, which I wrote when I lived in Luxembourg, comparing Brussels vs. Luxembourg in a semi-funny way, something to think about -  where you might want to end up working.

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APPLICATION (07:00)

Let’s look at the application process and what it actually requires.
The most basic, core piece of information you want to know is - how many places are there on the Reserve List?

And just to make sure everyone is clear about the idea: EPSO competitions are not about recruitment. They are about selection. They will select suitable candidates and place them on a so-called ‘reserve list’. That’s when a candidate’s status becomes ‘laureate’, sort of a ‘winning candidate’, and they are now recruitable.  At the point you get on the reserve list you can be hired by the EU Institutions.

POSITIONS AVAILABLE

How many places are on the Reserve List for these specialist competitions?

  • Chemicals Policy Competition: Grade AD6 - 45 places 
  • Nuclear Inspectors Competition: Grade AST3 - 40 places

This is very clearly indicated in the Notice of Competition.

In proportionate terms, this is actually a very good number. Other competitions might have 5, 10 or 15 places. Therefore, this is actually a pretty good number, also considering the fact that these are specialist competitions. Your chances are pretty good. There are probably not tens of thousands of candidates who meet the profile requirements. I’m pretty certain that there won’t be a large number of candidates for these competitions.

As a result, if you fit that profile then you stand a pretty good chance of succeeding. The proportions are in your favor, given the number of places on the Reserve List and given the uniqueness of the profiles being sought.

With that, let’s take a look at some other practical pieces of information. What are the application deadlines?

  • For Chemicals Policy Comp - APPLY BEFORE 13 APRIL 2021

  • For Nuclear Inspectors Comp - APPLY BEFORE 20 APRIL 2021

Don’t leave it to the last moment. If you’re lucky enough to live in a country where you can travel around for the Easter Holiday, and your holiday mood might make you forget some of these necessary steps, make sure to do it before then, and don’t leave it to the last minute.

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ARE YOU ELIGIBLE? (09:35)

Probably the most important question for all of these competitions is: Are you eligible? Do you meet the formal requirements that are necessary to be eligible for the competition?
Take this very seriously. Do everything that is in your power to prove that you are eligible. Obviously you want to be truthful, you want to be ethical, and make sure that you only give accurate information.

Having said that, to some degree you need to persuade the Selection Board members that you meet all those formal requirements that the competition prescribes. There are general criteria that you need to me, and there are more unique, more specific criteria. 

General Conditions

  • Must have EU citizenship - one of the 27 member states
  • Completed military service requirements
  • This is only in a couple of EU countries. I think it’s Greece, perhaps Austria. Maybe Spain. But the vast majority of EU countries do not require it.
  • Meet the character requirements of the job - be in good moral standing. Which is a little bit of a vague thing, and I’ve never really looked into what that means in practice. I’ve never actually come across a candidate who was excluded from competition for not meeting the character requirements. 

Now, I would imagine, and again, it’s just my speculation because I don’t think there’s any word on this in the Notice of Competition, but who knows, maybe for Nuclear Inspectors some sort of security clearance might be required. If you are visiting a nuclear power plant as an inspector of a public authority which is the EU, more specifically the European Commission, well - you might need to have a certain clean track record , that sort of profile or background, or need to have gone through certain checks in order to qualify for that sort of job.  Again, this is my speculation, and I don’t think there’s any info about this in the NoC, but perhaps the character requirements loosely translates into that sort of criteria.

And I see a question here - ‘So, UK is out?’
Yes, the UK is out. If you have a British passport, and that’s the only passport you hold, then you are no longer considered an EU citizen. So you need to have a passport and citizenship of one of the EU’s member states.

LANGUAGE RULES

This is a very practical aspect of optimising your chances to succeed. 

LANGUAGE 1

  • Any of the 24 official EU languages (minimum C1 level)

This means you can choose a language regardless of what passport you hold. I’m Hungarian, I’m also Belgian for some years now, I could choose Finnish - if I spoke Finnish. I could choose Portuguese or Romanian or Greek. Unfortunately, I don’t speak these languages but I am free to choose English, for instance, if that’s my preferred Language 1 in which I want to take certain tests.

Most people choose their mother tongue, as long as it’s one of the EU’s 24 official languages. If you grew up in a family that spoke Russian, you cannot choose that because it’s not an official EU language.

My point is that the passport you hold and the language you pick as Language 1 have nothing to do with each other. You can truly choose any language that you master at the required level.

What’s really important to bear in mind is that the pre-selection tests, something we’ll look at later, which are the abstract, verbal, numerical reasoning tests, will be conducted in Language 1. If you have the flexibility or liberty to choose any language, because you speak two or three languages very well, in this case choose a language in which you can passively process information fastest. If you can take in information, have good reading comprehension, have a good vocabulary then pick a language that you master. At least passively. 

LANGUAGE 2

  • Must be English OR French (minimum B2 level)

I probably would not choose English as Language 1 because it has to be different from Language 2 which would leave me with French as my Language 2. Now, I speak French fluently but I’m not as eloquent in French as I am in English. My writing skills in French definitely are not as good as my English. 

Language 2 needs to be a language in which you can actively express yourself the best. Whether in speech or writing, make sure it’s the language in which you can really express yourself well. 

Given that Language 2 must be English or French, and there’s not a lot of choice, it will probably be English for most of you, then Language 1 will probably be your mother tongue, or as close as possible, or in which you have conducted your education.

Language 1 and Language 2 MUST BE DIFFERENT

 

QUALIFICATIONS - CHEMICALS POLICY COMP

Qualifications are really important given the fact that these are specialist competitions.

  • Completed university studies of at least four years with a diploma in either chemistry, chemical engineering, mineralogy, mining, toxicology, ecotoxicology, biology, environmental studies, human or veterinary medicine, pharmacology, 
  • OR by a diploma in another subject directly relevant to the nature of the duties.
  • PLUS a minimum of three years professional experience in the field of chemicals.

OR

  • Completed university studies of at least three years with a diploma in either chemistry, chemical engineering, mineralogy, mining, toxicology, ecotoxicology, biology, environmental studies, human or veterinary medicine, pharmacology. 
  • OR by a diploma in another subject directly relevant to the nature of the duties. 
  • PLUS a minimum of four years professional experience in the field of chemicals.

Often a Bachelor’s Degree may not be enough, because most Bachelor’s are three years of study. Whereas this requirement states, in the first option, that you need four years completed. And it can’t be just any degree obviously, it has to be linked to the field of the competition. There is some flexibility here, because if you have a unique degree that may not be listed above, but it is entirely relevant to the nature of the duties that are described in the Notice of Competition then you might qualify.

And it’s not enough to have the four year degree but you do need to have that three years of professional experience in the field of chemicals. And again, chemicals is a very broad area. You certainly know much better than I do, with my legal background and expertise in communication and public affairs, what chemicals in a broader sense means. From pharma to veterinary to human health to substances and everything in between.

I see there’s a question here which I just saw ‘How broad is the field of chemicals? Are pharmaceuticals included’
I’m pretty sure that pharmaceuticals are included. Pharmaceuticals are about chemicals, not just toxicology and material science, but pharmaceuticals would be pretty surely covered. 
Now, it does matter if you worked three years and worked in Marketing or HR - then that is different and would not qualify you. The work experience has to be relevant. 

Anka is asking if Material science is included? I would guess so. Again, if you really dealt with material science, well, that’s chemicals. I’m 99% sure that would qualify you for this competition. 

To summarise, it is four years study plus three years experience, or three years study and four years experience.

 

I’ll pause to take a few questions I see here:

Does a PhD qualify as professional work experience? 

We get this question a lot and it’s a difficult one. If the PhD was paid and you did it as a teaching assistant, you were employed full time and you can prove this with the right documentation, which I presume you can because you did a formal PhD at a university, then I would guess - yes, it would qualify as work experience.

Now, here is my legal disclaimer: whatever I tell you here, in this webinar, is to the best of my knowledge. But I am not the official source. Make sure that if you have any doubts or questions to ask the Selection Board or EPSO about whether this would be the case.

In this case, you have completed your education which qualifies you for the first part and then you need the three years experience. PhD usually take three or more years to complete, and if you had a paid position during that time, relevant to the nature of the duties described, because I presume your PhD was full time and you had to teach and deal with these relevant areas on a daily basis while doing your research, then by all means that should qualify you.

Now if your PhD was part time and in the meantime you did work elsewhere, or, alternately, you had no paid employment - that may be a trickier situation. It depends whether it was a full time or part time PhD, or what the exact context was. Either way, it has to be paid employment relevant to these competitions’ requirements.

 

The UK’s out - but is English still an official language of the EU?

Yes, it is still an official language. Think of Ireland, where it’s not only Gaelic but also English as an official language. I believe in Malta English is an official language. So, yes, English is still very much an official language. And practically speaking, more staff speaks English than any other language. Not necessarily as a first language but as the lingua franca - the language in which communication most often happens in the institutions.

 

Can you please shed some light on the timing of the next steps, if possible?

We’ll get to that in a moment, but to give you a rough idea - there is the application deadline on the 13th and 20th of April, then there is the Talent Screener and the different steps, within a few weeks you need to fill out all those papers (virtual papers, on screen questionnaires) where you need to answer the questions in the Talent Screener, and then we’ll see when and how the pre-selection tests might take place.

 

QUALIFICATIONS - NUCLEAR INSPECTORS COMP

Here it is slightly different. This is not an AD6 level of competition, but an AST competition, assistant level, AST3. Do not be misled by the word assistant. Assistant does not mean secretary or clerical tasks. This is very substantive work, just on a different level. The level of responsibility might be different, and you will not be dealing so much with policy making but instead perhaps project management or on-site inspections, or similar tasks. So, what is required of you if this is your field of interest:

  • Post-secondary education with a diploma in either a technical field (such as engineering, industrial engineering, electro mechanics), OR in the field of natural or applied sciences (such as nuclear physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation protection, radiobiology, physics, chemistry). 
  • PLUS a minimum of three years professional experience, of which two years must be related to nuclear physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation protection, radiobiology, physics, chemistry, engineering,
  • OR any other relevant discipline in a technical field or the applied sciences, acquired in the nuclear industry, a nuclear research centre, a national/international public body, or in another appropriate area.

OR
There is also a variation here, similar to what we saw for the Chemicals Policy experts.

  • Secondary, general or technical education attested by a diploma giving access to post-secondary education.
  • PLUS a minimum of 6 years professional experience in a relevant field, of which 2 years must be related to nuclear physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation protection, radiobiology, physics, chemistry, engineering,
  • OR any other relevant discipline in a technical field or the applied sciences, acquired in the nuclear industry, a nuclear research centre, a national/international public body, or in another appropriate area.

So in this option it is not ‘post’ secondary, just secondary education. So if you went to a high school specializing in one of these fields, then you might qualify as long as you have more work experience. Either you have post-secondary education and three years relevant work experience, or a secondary education and six years of relevant work experience.
With the emphasis that two years of the work experience must be focused on the fields of the competition.

I hope this is clear. Certainly there must be a lot of variation. Many of you will have different backgrounds and professional experiences and history, which may be in a bit of a grey zone when considering these requirements. If you have any questions regarding this, very unique situations and variations, send us a message and we’ll try to give you our best advice on whether we think you qualify or what you might be able to do to provide information that you need to qualify. 

 

I’ll pause here to take a question:

Would a Master’s Degree or Engineering Degree be accepted for the nuclear inspectors competition?

Probably yes, given all these descriptions - I would think so, because that is definitely a post-secondary education. The idea of post-secondary education is broader than just simply a university degree. University does count as post-secondary education, but post-secondary can also mean specialised courses with formal certification, even outside of university. 

So, if you actually have a university Master’s degree, I very much think that qualifies you for this competition provided that you have the relevant number of years of work experience. It’s not enough to have the education background, but you must also have the three years of work experience.

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WHY IS THIS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY? (29:02)

I probably don’t need to convince you that this is a great opportunity because you are already here and actively seeking information, trying to optimise your chances. You’re doing everything you can to succeed in this competition. Yet, for the sake of completeness:

ATTRACTIVE SALARIES

  • You can find out, not exactly, but almost exactly, how much you would likely earn using the Salary Calculator on the EU Training website. 
  • You can input all the data, including family status, current residency - because this impacts your allowances in the salary, etc, and the calculator will configure all these data points and will give you a rough estimate of the salary you can expect. 
  • Just to give you an idea, for an AD6, recruited from outside Belgium because you are not living here yet, the salary would be roughly 5,000-5,500 euros NET/month.
  • For AST3 I think it would be roughly 3,000-3,500 euros NET/month.

GOOD BENEFITS

  • It’s not just the salary, there is very good health insurance which you get access to for you and your family. Family as in your partner/spouse and children.
  • Then there are the European schools that are available for children of EU officials

I’ll take one question before we move on:

Is the EU Test Book relevant for administrators for this competition?

Yes, it is relevant for this competition. The AD (Administrator) edition of The Ultimate EU Test Book is relevant for the Chemicals Policy competition. For Nuclear Inspectors, that’s an AST competition, but at the same time it’s a specialist competition, therefore probably the administrator edition would be the relevant one too, despite being an assistant competition given the nature of tests required in this competition. Even for Nuclear Inspectors I would probably suggest the AD edition of my book.

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HOW TO GET ONE OF THESE JOBS? (30:45)

Let’s look at the application process in a little more detail, which steps you need to take and how you can optimize your chances. 

STEP 1 - APPLICATION PROCESS

  • First you need to declare your eligibility - this is pretty easy, you fill out the online form, tick the right boxes
  • Pick your Language 1 & 2, hopefully using some of those ideas I shared with you earlier
  • Your application can be submitted in any of the 24 official EU languages - you may choose your native language, or in English if you’re comfortable doing that, it doesn’t really have any bearing on your application. 
  • BUT the Talent Screener can only be filled out in English or French. 
  • Validate by the application deadline

Let’s look at the Talent Screener more specifically. What is it, why does it matter and what are the things you actually need to pay attention to when filling it out to maximise your chances?

WHAT IS A TALENT SCREENER?

It is a questionnaire where you need to answer a set of questions very relevant and unique to the competition you are applying for. If it’s Chemicals policy then it’s going to be questions about your background in relation to that very area. If it’s Nuclear inspectors, then again the questions will be relevant and unique to that area. 
The Talent Screener is a way for the assessors, the Selection Board, to decide whether or not you have the right profile that meets the criteria for a given competition. It’s not just in formal terms but in more substantive terms. They want to know that you dealt with certain aspects of the given field, what concretely you have done in those fields. You need to provide very specific and complete information to prove your point. You need to persuade them that you fully qualify because you have the right experience and therefore deserve the points that will help you pass to the next stage. 
Because of this, it is very important how you fill out the Talent Screener. It’s very important that you not only provide the usual general statements about how you have a lot of experience but you provide the data to back it up: dates, specific descriptions of projects and your roles in them, describe the specific research you conducted, the responsibilities you held if you worked in a lab, for example, or an industrial setting or at a university.

HOW TO MAXIMISE YOUR TALENT SCREENER SCORE

A few tips…

  • Try to answer ‘YES’ as much as possible, while being fully truthful and honest and can back it up with true, relevant information. Obviously, never distort or make up information. But if you, for example, conducted research, you can present that in a way that demonstrates you have a certain level of experience. Or, for example, if you were assigned a project in a research facility, or a commercial company’s R&D department, you’ll want to emphasise this info so you can demonstrate a given experience. 
  • Provide lots of valuable information, but give only relevant and meaningful answers. Leave out space fillers. One of the key mistakes I’ve seen candidates over the years is that they are just too vague, they are not specific enough. They also don’t present the information in an easy-to-read manner, we will talk about this in a moment. It’s almost like a lawyer proving a case in court, think about your hard facts, what are your proof points you can provide for the assessors to see that you are qualified.
  • Concrete vs. Abstract answers. Scores are based on hard evidence - facts, figures, places and dates. To prove the previous point, reinforce your statements with proof points.
  • 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. Certain questions may resemble previous ones you have already answered. In this case, do not just copy/paste your answers, even if your answer is pretty much the same. Try to customise it, try to highlight different aspects to prove your point. 
  • Readability and clear communication will influence your assessors’ understanding of your professional background:
    • Use a structured layout with bullet points
    • Clear references
    • Short but to-the-point descriptions

Formatting is actually important. You may not think it, but you do need to provide a nice layout. Break that text into multiple paragraphs, break those paragraphs into multiple bullet points, make sure that it is easy to review, to scan the information. Make sure the data, and the message you are trying to convey is not buried in those paragraphs.

I’ve seen candidates with brilliant backgrounds and PhDs make this key mistake. Therefore, you want to make sure that when the person, and it is always going to be a person reading the Talent Screener, looks at your Talent Screener that the information you want to highlight is very clear to them and then they can award you the highest possible score, which is usually three points per question. 

  • 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.

Think a little bit about what’s in it for them. The assessors are ultimately working for EU institutions. They want to see candidates who one day may be their colleagues. Think about how a certain experience, or a publication you may have contributed to, or any moment in your career, can be useful for the EU institutions when you work as a member of their team. It’s a little bit like a ‘sales’ mindset, e.g. ‘selling’ your experience in, for example, research in a certain area as relevant to the plastics strategy that the EU is currently engaged in. However, this is not a motivational letter, or a cover letter for a specific job application, but to a limited extent you want to think about your experience from their point of view, so when they read it and see what you have done in the past they will see how it relates to the EU in these areas of the competition.

  • EU institutions and EPSO are formal and terminology-driven. Learn the lingo and use it. Make sure to use their jargon and key words more commonly used in EU circles. You probably want to look at the websites of those Directorate Generals where you would be working, read some press releases, speeches by a commissioner, policy documents and annual reports. This is a good way to get familiar with the language and terminology that they use, which you might also want to use in your Talent Screener. 
  • If you want to write a stellar Talent Screener view this webinar recording: Everything You Need to Know About EPSO’s Talent Screener
    • A very tabloid-style title :), I take full responsibility for that. But, it gives you more practical tips and ideas, I also walk you through a couple of examples of what to do and what not to do. You might want to check that webinar out to optimise your chances.

 

I’ll take a couple of questions about the Talent Screener:

Does the Talent Screener have to be filled out in your Language 2 choice? English or French? 

Yes, it should be filled out in English or French.

 

And can I write the Talent Screener in English if my first language is English?

So your Language is English, which means your Language 2 is French, and you’re asking if you can write the Talent Screener in English? I think the Talent Screener has to be filled out in Language 2. So you probably cannot fill it out in English in your case. You would need to pick English as your Language 2 in order to fill out the Talent Screener in English.

 

Are your chances better if you fill it out in English rather than French?

I don’t think so, I don’t think it matters whether it is English or French. It’s about what you write and how you write it, not necessarily which language you write it in. 

Talent Screener questions are quite vague. Is there any more information on the criteria somewhere? I mean what exactly are they looking for?

Yes, they’re vague and broad. That is why I spent quite a bit of time detailing the kind of techniques you want to apply. Then, despite the questions being vague, you will be very concrete in listing your achievements, your track record and those proof points. That’s why there’s a bit of subjectivity, for better or worse, because if you provide very comprehensive information in the right form, presenting it in the right way, then the assessor will look at it and based on what they’ve read will give you an overall score based on their impression, not based on ticking boxes. That would be impossible based on the diversity of backgrounds and experiences that candidates have. That is why even though a question may be broad your answer needs to be very specific. 

 

How long does it take from the submission of the application form until the moment the CBTs start?

That depends on whether the computer-based tests are part of the pre-selection or not. If they are, then it takes around six to eight weeks from the moment of the application deadline. That’s just a rough estimate. If the computer-based tests will be part of the Assessment Centre then that will happen much later, and then you have more time to brush up on your abstract, verbal and numerical reasoning skills.

 

STEP 2 - PRE-SELECTION CBT EXAM 

Now let’s talk a little bit about the pre-selection tests, the CBTs or Computer-Based Tests, which many of you are probably familiar with:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Numerical Reasoning
  • Abstract Reasoning

The interesting thing with these specialist competitions, for both the chemicals policy and nuclear inspector, is that the computer-based tests may be part of the pre-selection if there are a lot of candidates. If there are a lot of candidates, I’m not sure of the exact figure, but maybe ten times more than the places on the Reserve List, then these tests will be used to pre-select candidates to go on to the next stage. 
If there are not that many candidates, then these tests will be part of the Assessment Centre.
What is the bottom line? You need to take these computer-based tests no matter what, but it may happen at the beginning as a selection test, or it may happen later as part of the Assessment Centre in which case you don’t need to have the best score, just reach the pass mark to participate in the AC. 

1. VERBAL REASONING

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

I would presume a lot of you are familiar with this, you can find a lot of sample questions on EPSO’s website, on our own website - we are proud to offer you verbal reasoning in 19 languages, so chances are good that your Language 1 will be covered. We are still adding more languages as we speak.
This is a reasoning test, it’s not about language comprehension, it’s more about logic and using words.

2. NUMERICAL REASONING

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

Numerical Reasoning is data calculation. The challenge is often, not that the questions are difficult, rather that they are hard to answer within the time given. Timing is the difficult part here. This is why you probably want to practice quite a bit to make sure you perform effectively and efficiently under that time pressure.
 
3. ABSTRACT REASONING

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

Same goes for Abstract Reasoning - where you actually have less time. You have to quickly find the logic of how certain patterns move around. 

 

CBT SCORING

VERBAL REASONING (0/20)

  • Pass mark: 10/20
  • The verbal reasoning is a set apart and has a higher pass mark

NUMERICAL REASONING (0/10) 
ABSTRACT REASONING (0/10)

  • Pass mark: the two above COMBINED 10/20

The numerical and abstract are combined and you need to pass as a combined score. For example if you are not able to answer any question correctly on the numerical reasoning test but you answer all the questions correctly for the abstract reasoning, then you can still pass. You don’t want to risk that, you want to give both your best shot, but given the way the scoring is you can afford to lose a couple points for this combined score. 

The pass mark is enough - this is why it depends whether the computer-based tests are pre-selection or part of the Assessment Centre. 
If they are part of pre-selection then it is a true competition, meaning your score is compared to other candidates. Therefore, you need to, not only pass, but pass with a good score.

 

Step 3 - TALENT SCREENER

If the computer-based tests were pre-selection those who got the highest scores in the computer-based tests and make it through the Eligibility Check will have their Talent Screener reviewed.
If the CBTs are part of the Assessment Centre, then you will have your Talent Screener reviewed before the computer-based tests.

 

Step 4 - ASSESSMENT CENTRE

What does the Assessment Centre look like? These days it is a series of online tests. It used to be all in-person, not far from our office here in Brussels. But, right now, pretty much everything is online. This might change, who knows what the situation will be with covid by the time you get to your Assessment Centre for these competitions, but chances are it will be conducted online. Our studio is actually available to rent if you’d like to take advantage of a silent and secure studio with a strong internet connection, good lighting, a nice microphone. But you can do it from anywhere, from home, as long as you meet the basic IT requirements.
The Assessment Centre is done in Language 2, so that is English or French. 

CHEMICALS POLICY - ASSESSMENT CENTRE TASKS 
Five types of exercises:

  • CASE STUDY - based on background documentation and files and you need to draft some sort of summary or briefing
  • SITUATIONAL COMPETENCY-BASED INTERVIEW (SCBI) - this is somewhat new and replaced the Group Exercise
  • COMPETENCY-BASED INTERVIEW - where they ask questions about your Resilience, your communication skills, how you work with others, or your ability to prioritise and organise
  • INTERVIEW IN THE FIELD - this is the most concrete link to the field of the competition and your professional background
  • WRITTEN TEST IN THE FIELD - where they really test your knowledge of the field

ASSESSMENT CENTRE SCORING
You need to have certain minimum points for the general competencies and you need to score well for the two field-related tests, which are truly linked to the professional area of the competition

EIGHT GENERAL COMPETENCIES

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

FIELD-RELATED INTERVIEW

  • Pass mark 25/50

WRITTEN TEST IN THE FIELD

  • Pass mark 25/50
  • Those who get the highest overall scores will make it onto the Reserve List.

 

NUCLEAR INSPECTORS - ASSESSMENT CENTRE TASKS 

Four types of exercises:

  • CASE STUDY
  • SITUATIONAL COMPETENCY-BASED INTERVIEW (SCBI)
  • COMPETENCY-BASED INTERVIEW 
  • INTERVIEW IN THE FIELD 

ASSESSMENT CENTRE SCORING
The pass mark is slightly different because the ‘Leadership’ competency is no longer part of the scoring here. For an AD level competition one of the competencies EPSO requires is Leadership. But this Nuclear Inspectors competition is an AST (assistant) level exam and there is no more Leadership as a competency being tested, hence 70 instead of 80 points.

SEVEN GENERAL COMPETENCIES

  • Pass mark 35/70
  • Each worth 10 points
  • Which means at least five points per competency

FIELD-RELATED INTERVIEW

  • Pass mark 50/100

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

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SUCCESS! RESERVE LIST (54:29)

Reserve lists usually have a one year validity, but for specialist competitions it will probably be valid for longer, because they want to make they hire as many laureates from the reserve list as possible provided those on the reserve list are still interested and available to take a job with the European commission. This is when the actual recruitment happens.

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HOW TO GET THE JOB? (55:03)

  • Practice for 10-12 weeks. Lots of practice, depending on where you are in your performance metrics right now.  
  • Make a plan. Prepare for maybe an hour every day, or 30 minutes, or for ten hours per week, whatever it is, have some sort of preparation plan, a bit like you would probably prepare for some sports competition or academic competition, with a plan and regular practice.
  • Learn the test methodology. There are tips and tricks and shortcuts, and ways to save time, to increase accuracy, to improve your performance on the exams. 
  • There are tons of e-books, webinars, one-on-one training, group training sessions, virtual training, we offer you all these services to help you make the most of it.
  • Persistence is key! Not giving up, staying focused.
  • Do lots of test simulations

We, hopefully, offer everything you need at EU Training. Our team is amazing, the products we are constantly improving, and making sure that they correspond to the candidates needs.

SIMULATED PRACTICE TESTS

  • Verbal Reasoning - 20 LANGUAGES!
    • I forgot we added a new language - which is Finnish!
  • Numerical Reasoning
  • Abstract Reasoning 

WEBINARS

  • Free - Beginner's Guide Webinars:
  • Beginner’s Guide To The EPSO Verbal Reasoning Test
  • Beginner’s Guide To The EPSO Numerical Reasoning Test
  • Beginner’s Guide To The EPSO Abstract Reasoning Test

Pro Tips Webinars:

  • Pro Tips For The EPSO Verbal Reasoning Test
  • Pro Tips For The EPSO Numerical Reasoning Test
  • Pro Tips For The EPSO Abstract Reasoning Test

Others:

A WEALTH OF RESOURCES:

We 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.

JOIN AN EPSO COMMUNITY

You can join Facebook groups where you can engage with other candidates to share resources, ideas and tips.

BOOKS

You might want to check out the EU Test Books

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QUESTIONS PLEASE (57:20)

Is the salary adjusted in accordance with the work experience and education background?

There are not huge variations. Only minimal adjustments may be made because it is made known in advance that the Chemicals Policy is AD6 and the Nuclear Inspectors is AST3, so that gives you a very small bracket where they may do some minor adjustments for your salary depending on how many years of work experience you have, or even if you have three PhDs it’s not going to make any major difference. We’re talking about maybe a couple of hundred euros of adjustment based on your background. But the bracket is pretty fixed and it’s communicated to you upfront through the levels at which you will be hired.  

 

Based on your experience then only applicants who respond ‘yes’ to all the questions make it to the next round? 

Absolutely not. Do not be afraid if you need to answer ‘no’ to some questions in the Talent Screener. That is okay. Because you simply may not have that experience. As long as the proportions of yes to no are okay, so answering no to 12 answers out of 15 is going to be tricky, but if you have a few no’s because that is the truthful answer then that’s okay. Then at the same time be really convincing on the other answers where you could answer yes.

 

The way of presenting things in the Talent Screener depends also on the number of experiences to be stated, how should we tackle this problem?

Let’s say you have maybe six months experience working at a research facility - this could be a one-liner, or it could become a very detailed thing. You can detail the project you worked on and list the areas the project included, as in the specific tasks you completed, or detail the budget you handled, or the kind of research methods you used, or the types of materials you worked with, the types of machines you learned how to operate, or the types of lab equipment you are familiar with and used, or the kind of software you used to help your research. There is a lot of detail you can provide, even if the experience seems like it would just be a one-liner, to show the type of knowledge you gained as part of that experience. 

 

What is the difference between the nature of your work and your specific role and responsibility? Can you provide examples to illustrate?

I think I need more time to explain this. But just quickly, the nature of your work is a broader category, as in was it research work, helping regulatory affairs with safety assessment or compliance with the legal department.

The responsibilities, the specific role is for example ‘I was a research assistant.’ or ‘I was an inspector.’ and then detailing the daily tasks of that role.

So you go from the very high, broad level to the more nuanced, specific and detailed description.

 

Words/characters for answers are restricted in the Talent Screener. On some of the questions there are multiple experiences to share, do you just select one?

As far as I’m aware, it’s not that restricted. Usually there’s a 3,000 character count limitation. Maybe it’s less, but it’s not like a tweet. You’ll just have to make a judgement on what makes most sense for that given question. Perhaps you provide a little bit fewer details but you focus on the assets. Then again, be mindful of the visual layout, use bullet points and segment the text in the right way. 

You don’t necessarily need long sentences. You don’t need to describe everything with full details, you can be more to the point, a bit of a telegram style, perhaps more like a CV, or resumé for those that prefer that term. Stick to the point, use key facts, dates, numbers, figures, and brief descriptions. This saves you space as well.

 

Any estimate of what the threshold is, or what score candidates need to reach in order to qualify for the next stage? 

This is hard to tell. But usually if you perform around 70-75% for these types of competitions that should be sufficient. Meaning, if the maximum point is 20 and you get 15 then you have a very good chance of succeeding or passing on to the next stage.

 

How’s the written test in the field structured? How can you prepare for it? 

The answer for this is long, and it is hard to give a brief answer, but I will try. 

The written test in the field is more knowledge based, and not competency based. It is what you know, not necessarily the meta skills around how you process information. You may have to write a briefing on one specific topic, related to the subject of the competition. It is hard for me to say anything more meaningful in such a short time.

 

When is the new edition of the EU Test book coming out?

Well, we only have a new edition for the Assessment Centre this year. There is no new edition this year for Administrators and Assistants. If you’re interested in buying those, then buy the 2020 edition, but we’ll probably do a new edition next year. 

 

What is the procedure to purchase an exercise book?

If it’s the EU Test book you can go to the website here: https://eu-testbook.com/

Or you can go to eutraining.eu to browse around the website and hopefully you’ll find what you’ll need.

 

THANK YOU FOR PARTICIPATING

If you have any follow up questions send us a message, we’re happy to answer those for you.
Please feel free to share the resources we make available with fellow candidates and colleagues who you think may be interested in these. 
Please let us know if we can help in any way. We try to provide the best tools and preparation resources on the market, help us help you and we’ll do our best to live up to your expectations. 
A big thank you to all of you for staying here. Thanks to Lenke and Veronika for making sure the webinar ran smoothly.
Stay tuned for new webinars and resources that we regularly put out there. 
Thanks very much, to be continued and good luck for the competition - I wish you all success!