We organised a great live Question & Answer webcast on 24 October 2012 with hundreds of participants asking many interesting questions. The selection of the most relevant and interesting ones is below.
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Let's see the questions asked by EPSO-candidates:
It is not very clear how you get invited for an interview once you are already on the reserve list.
This is a very relevant question, however, there is rather limited information on this at EPSO’s website except for the ‘Successful Candidates’ page. In fact there are two main ways of getting invited: as a main rule, you are supposed to wait for EPSO to submit your file to all EU institutions (or in fact, share it in an electronic database) where they can pick candidates from in case they have a vacancy to fill. This may take anything between 1 month to 2 years as it depends on the availability of posts and the number of internal candidates. The other way is that you proactively ‘lobby’ for an interview, always highlighting your EPSO reserve list so potential head of units know you are eligible, and try to secure a face-to-face meeting. There is a list of available posts at each EU institutions, however, it is unfortunately only available to those with access to the ‘intranet’.
In what language will the tests be in Croatia?
The language of the tests, as a main rule, is English, French or German, depending on your choice. However, for linguists (translators and interpreters), the rules are much more complicated, so we suggest you check our dedicated free webcast recording or its transcript so you can find the necessary answers: http://www.eutraining.eu/croatian_information_webcast_language
Are there any Croatian concours planned for External Relations?
According to the information available to us, there is no such competition planned. This is reinforced by the fact that EPSO tends to group exams of similar grades and topics into one batch, and currently the AD5 administrator exams have already been announced with only Public Administration profile but no External Relations included. What is more likely is that in the near future when new AD5 exams are announced, Croatian citizens (along with EU27 citizens) will also be able to apply.
My diploma was acquired outside of the EU, in Canada. Does the EU accept non-EU BA degrees?
As a main rule, it will not be accepted though the Selection Board of the specific competition you are taking may decide otherwise. In any case we don’t suggest you risk being disqualified because of non-recognition of your diploma, so your most secure way forward is to have your qualification recognized by your EU Member State’s education authority, which will then surely be accepted by the Selection Board. Note, however, the specific diploma requirements of some competitions (e.g. in Economics competition, you will need a relevant diploma, whereas for Public Administration, generally any diploma is accepted). More information on diplomas can be found here.
Can you point us to a place where EU jobs are regularly published? It is hard to follow what positions are open and when...
Though EPSO itself published all competitions on its website, we also operate a service where we update the exams on a daily basis, including non-permanent posts such as EU agency jobs, positions in European political groups and others. Check it out here: http://www.eutraining.eu/eu_jobs
Is it possible to move from AST to AD at some point if recruited to an AST position?
Yes, though it’s rather challenging. You have 2 options to move from AST to AD: there is an internal procedure in which you can request to be enrolled called ‘certification procedure’. This means you will need to attend several weeks (or months) of training and pass an exam in the end, as a result of which you can become Administrator (AD) level. The other option is to pass a competition just like anyone else but then of course you compete with everyone else, just like any other candidate.
For how long one can be on the reserve list?
It depends on which competition you took. If you took a generalist Administrator (AD) competition such as law, public administration or other, the reserve list is valid until the next annual cycle is finished and its reserve list is released. If you took a linguist competition, the reserve list is valid until the next competition in the same language is finished and its reserve list if published. For specialist competitions, however, the reserve list has a specific validity period, usually 2-4 years, given the highly varying staffing needs of institutions in specialist fields.
Will there be any specialist competitions for Communication (not for Croatia!) in 2013?
We don’t know yet unfortunately, hopefully yes.
What is the chance of having competition for Hungarians in the field of translators in 2013?
There were CAST (contract agent) exams for Hungarians recently, but only lawyer-linguists had a Hungarian language section. So it seems likely that next year there will be a Hungarian translator field, though we will know with certainty only around March or April 2013.
Will Croatian citizens be eligible to apply for AD7 in March 2013?
If there really is an AD7 exam on top of the ‘repeated’ 2010 exam in the 2013 annual cycle, then it is likely that EU27 citizens will “only” be allowed to apply. This is because Croatian citizens have several dedicated exams right now (though there is no AD7) and next March Croatia will not yet be an EU Member State. On the other hand, this is speculation and Croatians may as well be allowed to apply just like at the upcoming December 2012 exams for the OHIM (OAMI) exams for intellectual property issues where EU27+Croatians are both eligible.
What would be the position of EU employees of British nationality if the United Kingdom opts to leave the EU?
It is a rather political question and at this point not likely that the UK leaves the EU. However, there are 2 competing issues at play: one is that EU officials, who are permanent officials, have acquired rights which cannot be taken away unless sufficient compensation is given to them. So British citizens, even if their country is no longer a Member State, will have a right to the position they had acquired. On the other hand, EU officials must be nationals of an EU country, which condition will no longer hold true should the UK leave the EU. Therefore a special agreement or deal must be found to make both ends meet. Let’s hope, nevertheless, that this situation will not arise.
How often competitions for assistants and translators are taking place?
There are annual cycles for assistants, like the one coming up in December 2012 where Economics/Statistics, Finance/Accounting and Audit are announced. Such exams are announced each year, though the profiles vary from one year to another. The same is true for linguists: they have exams each summer, only the language profiles vary from one year to another. On top of this, there are many ad hoc or specialist competitions for assistants, mainly on ‘senior assistant’ (AST3) level, such as the CAST exams which are for contract agents (temporary jobs) and other fields such as assistants in the building sector.
Does the selection work on the basis of a national quota?
No but kind of. This means that there are no strict national quotas but there is a rule in the EU Staff Regulations that requires institutions to apply to “proportionate representation” of candidates from all Member States. This refers to the population ratios between the EU27 (soon 28) among permanent EU officials, so HR tries to reach certain benchmarks which are nevertheless not hard-coded quotas.
Do internal competition rules hold for trainees at EU institutions?
Until now, EU trainees were not allowed to enrol in internal competitions, only temporary agents were given the opportunity.
Will EPSO publish administrative assistant positions in 2013?
See answer above.
Have all the EU employees gone through this way of recruiting?
All permanent EU staff has had to pass a competition, without exception. Temporary agents, contract agents and trainees do not have to pass such exams, their recruitment is often done a CV-basis though occasionally there are competitions for temporary agent or contract agent posts too. Political posts, such as Commissioners, Members of the European Parliament or ECJ Judges are subject to very different selection methods given their unique nature.
Will there be competitions for Finance (AST or AD) in 2013?
Hard to tell, but one thing for sure is that EPSO is going to announce a Finance profile for AST3 on 6 December 2012, ie this year.
Could you describe internal competitions in greater detail, please? Meaning, if I do get a temp job, is it easier to become a permanent employee?
Internal competitions are always ad hoc and there is no regularity or any rule in when they are organised. So far there tended to be an internal competition roughly every 4-5 years. On the other hand, when such competitions are organised, those holding a temporary agent post are eligible (though those working in EU Agencies are usually excluded), so if you have such contract and the exams are organised, you indeed have a better chance to become a permanent employee.
What type of specialist competitions will they publish apart from the editor and intellectual property field?
There are no final plans yet on this, but there are a number of specialist exams coming up for nuclear scientists, engineers and others at the Joint Research Centre. Check EPSO’s indicative planning to get a better idea.
How often are competitions for Czech interpreters and translators organized?
All linguist competitions are organised on a need basis, so if institutions indicate to EPSO that they will need several Czech interpreters or translators, EPSO will organise a competition accordingly. As there were no Czech linguist competitions this or last year, there is a good chance there will be one next summer.
How many permanent positions are available for lawyers per year? Are there national quotas?
As for the quotas, see above. Regarding the lawyer positions, there is no quota or benchmark either as the jobs are categorised according to job profiles, and your underlying diploma or qualification is only indirectly considered. Therefore having a legal degree may be only a basis but you can end up working in foreign affairs, consumer protection, climate change or any other matter.
Is there a general rule when doing situational judgement tests? It seems for me sometimes, that there is more than one correct answer.
Situational Judgment Tests are indeed less ‘objective’ than numerical reasoning or abstract reasoning ones, which may lead you to believe there is more than one correct answer. These tests, however, are created by psychologist experts who make sure there is only one ‘most effective’ and one ‘least effective’ answer. For more information on SJTs, check our EU Career tips and tricks or the sample Situational Judgment Test (SJT) report.
How many questions we have to answer while doing EPSO tests?
It depends on the exam, but as a main rule, you have to answer the following number of questions within the specified timeframe:
- 10 minutes to answer 10 abstract reasoning questions
- 20 minutes to answer 20 numerical reasoning questions
- 35 minutes to answer 20 verbal reasoning questions
- 30 minutes to answer 24 situational judgment questions
or for assistants, the timing looks as follows:
- 35 minutes to answer 20 verbal reasoning questions
- 20 minutes to answer 10 numercial reasoning questios
- 10 minutes to answer 10 abstract reasoning questions
- 6 minutes to answer 40 accuracy and precision questions
- 30 minutes to answer 24 prioritizing and organising questions
- 25 minutes to answer 25 secretarial field questions
Is there a rule for what kind of work experience is required for the different positions?
For AD5 level Administrators, there is no work experience required at all. Having a few years will of course not disadvantage you in any way, but the point is that recent graduates can also apply. For Specialist exams such as engineers or for AST3 assistants, there is usually the requirement of having relevant work experience in the field you are applying for. For other fields, they require 6 years of work experience for AD7 level, though for lawyer-linguists this is reduced to 3 years. Always make sure to read the Notice of Competition very carefully as it will list all requirements related to work experience.