The New EPSO System: Ask Me Anything

Early this year EPSO announced a total overhaul of the competition model. These changes left confusion and many unanswered questions in its wake. During EU Training's live event, hosts Andras Baneth and Ticiana Tucci answered as many of your questions as possible about the new EPSO selection process and the impact this has on you as candidates. Topics covered included:

  • What does EPSO's new competition model look like? 
  • Ongoing competitions vs. upcoming competitions
  • CAST vs EPSO vs Internal Competitions
  • The Computer-Based Tests 
  • Talent Screener vs Experience Profiling Instrument vs CV
  • The EU institutions' recruitment processes 
  • EPSO and EU careers related questions
  • How to start preparing



A great way to stay informed is with the help of fellow EPSO and CAST candidates. Our EU Training community ias pretty vast and these groups are very active. Candidates collaborate and share information, examples and discuss rumours.






Transcript Quick Links

INTRO - Introduction, greetings and sound check (00:00-03:55)


András Baneth

  • EU Training Co-founder
  • Author of Europe's best selling prep book: The Ultimate EU Test Book
  • Co-author of: The Ultimate EU Test Book - Assessment Centre edition
  • Former EU Official

Ticiana Tucci

  • EU Training's senior EPSO coach
  • Trained psychologist, with over 20 years experience in HR recruitment and selection, training and development.
  • Extensive experience as a certified career and executive coach.



A warm welcome to everyone. Today is an ‘ESPO Ask Me Anything’ session, which is very timely in the context of the new EPSO competition system that was launched at the end of January, at least on paper. It's going to take effect the first time EPSO launches a new competition, which is scheduled for the end of May. In a few weeks we're expecting the first new exams to be launched under the reformed selection procedure. Let me just say a few introductory words and then we're going to open up the Q&A.

You might know my background and you might know our company, EU TRAINING, and the ULTIMATE EU TEST BOOK that has been in publication since 2006. Many of you have asked me if a new edition is coming out and the answer is yes, there is a new administrator edition coming out, most likely in a couple of weeks–sometime in the second half of May or early June at the latest. There's going to be a new ULTIMATE EU TEST BOOK coming out and also one for the EPSO Assessment Centre – which is going to have a new name, given the changes in the new system. Ticiana, you might want to say a few words about yourself?

Ticiana Tucci: Hello everyone, it's nice to be here today with you on this journey to help with your EPSO training. I am a trained psychologist with over 20 years of experience in HR focusing on the selection, recruitment, training and development of candidates and supporting you in the selection procedure for EPSO.



András Baneth: Thanks, Ticiana. Let’s recap what the new system is going to look like, but first, a disclaimer: We are not the European Personnel Selection Office. Although whatever we tell you is based on the most up-to-date information we have gathered most recently and over our many years of experience in this area, the official source of information is always EPSO itself and the notes on the specific competition as they are announced. Having said that, we are doing our very best to be as accurate as possible and tell you up front if there is something we are certain about or other issues that we are still speculating about. 

The new EPSO system model was adopted on January 31st, 2023. It's the final version of the reformed selection procedure. For ongoing competitions – competitions that were launched prior to that date – chances are these are going to stay as announced. That's not 100% certain, but there is a very high likelihood. 

One competition was actually cancelled (EPSO/AST/154/22) and we're still observing whether that may have an impact for ongoing competitions, not just the new ones that are going to be launched as of May (presumably May, because that was what EPSO has announced) but also the ones that are happening right now.

If you have been invited to an EPSO assessment centre because your exam has reached that particular phase, that's certainly going to happen. So, that's what you need to prepare for and those are the conditions that you need to be mindful of. But again, if your exam has not reached the assessment centre stage yet, there's a tiny chance that it might change. However, it is more than likely to go ahead as announced in the original EPSO Notice of Competition.



With the new EPSO system that has been adopted and will soon be put into practice, there is no more assessment centre. That's something that we're going to come back to. If you have questions, we're going to provide some details on that, (but there is) no more assessment centre as such. A single set of exams will be the new rule (one-phase competition), and in those exams, as you most likely know, you will have tests (formerly known as the pre-selection). These are the reasoning tests: abstract, verbal and numerical reasoning tests, that are called CBT (computer-based tests). For generalists, there will be EU knowledge tests, and for specialists there will be specialist multiple choice tests (MCQ). There is also a written exam, most likely in the form of a case study, and then there's a digital skills test which is still up in the air. It's not 100% decided how that's going to feed into the new set-up. It will most likely be part of the requirements, but it's not 100% certain yet, as far as we know.

Universally, all the tests will take place remotely online, so you need to use your own computer and sit the test using that computer. If you don't have one, then you need to get hold of one. We are offering this kind of service at our Brussels office, the very place where I'm broadcasting this from; we're very close to the Parliament, so if you need to use this space, you're welcome to get in touch and we can figure out how we can assist you. Obviously, we have nothing to do with the exam itself, but we can help with the logistics, provide a silent space and a suitable computer.

Then there are the CAST exams that you might have questions about because there has been a slight change recently to those as well. The contract agent exams will essentially be a little simplified as EPSO will no longer do the testing for the more domain specific multiple-choice tests. This will be done by the recruiting institutions.

Just as a footnote on the competitions: the AST3 (154/22) was cancelled due to a multitude of reasons: it might have a certain impact, especially on how the remote testing takes place.

Ticiana Tucci: What I would like to add here is that EPSO mentioned that the main reason for the changes is that they want to implement a faster, leaner and more simple competition model for all the candidates. The average time today from the moment that you apply up until the moment you have the reserve list is on average 13 months. They want to reduce that to six months or maybe shorter. That's the expectation for the new system, for the open competitions specifically.

András Baneth: Thank you. I’d like to throw open the floor to questions now.



Q: Where can I check my rights and obligations if I pass any EU job and become a civil servant, for example for the EU and for example, in Belgium?
A: For rights and obligations, you can look up the staff regulations. It has everything that you need to know as an EU civil servant working in public administration. It sets out salary, childcare rights, professional obligations, everything that you need to know is right there.
Q: If a candidate has passed the first phase in a previous competition but he or she didn't pass to the next phase, can those marks be used?
A: The short answer is no; you cannot use that achievement from a previous competition. You need to restart from scratch. Basically, every competition is a stand-alone set of exams. Whatever results you got in previous ones do not carry over to a new EPSO competition.
Q: Could you elaborate further on the new changes in the CAST procedure? How will the CBT computer-based tests be organised and is there a change in the content of the tests?
A: As far as we know, the contract agent tests will not change in substance. The change that was announced was that the abstract, verbal and numerical reasoning tests will still be administered by EPSO and required by the EU institutions. But the field-related tests (MCQ), the one that truly connects you to the specific domain for which you applied, will be run by the recruiting institution, which is not EPSO. We'll need to see how that plays out in practical and substantive terms, but that's pretty much the change that we're aware of.

Ticiana Tucci: Another thing that I would like to add here is related to the competency-based interview, where behavioural aspects can be checked. Besides the field-related interviews that connect you with the job itself (the technical aspects), there are also the behavioural aspects. So, when we see a vacancy notice, we also realise the analysing and providing solutions skills that may be required; sometimes leadership skills, sometimes learning and development, working with others, etc., so there are also the behavioural aspects that they might be checking during the interview itself. But as to who will be doing those, it is really the recruitment services themselves and not EPSO any longer. They won't be responsible for that. Of course, if required, they can provide services, but it's no longer their obligation.
Q: For the Specialist competition, e.g. EPSO AD6 Economists, the written test: is that really a case study to assess general drafting skills? Or is it expected to be an essay on an economics related topic?
A: That's a good question. The answer is based on what we know right now and it might change. But based on what we know right now, the written test is going to be a case study, and it's going to be independent of that particular domain. Again, based on what we know now, it's not going to assess your knowledge in economics. It's going to be based on general skills.

As Ticiana mentioned, there you have the competency framework with eight competencies, which has been changed compared to what there used to be. Of these eight competencies, four are going to be assessed through the written test. So, even for economists or any other domain, they are only going to be looking at these general competencies–four of them–and not all eight. But the domain specific knowledge, so your knowledge of economics in this case, is not going to be part of the evaluation through the case study.

On the other hand, your domain specific knowledge–economics in this particular case–is going to be tested through multiple choice tests (MCQ). So, there's going to be a multiple-choice exam which looks at your domain specific knowledge. Again, this is what we know right now, and we'll see in the notice of competition that the concept might change. But it seems to be that the written test, the drafting one, is only going to look at your general competencies and not the domain specific ones.

Ticiana Tucci: I would like to point out something regarding those general competencies that you mentioned. Thinking about the new framework, we have to think about critical thinking, analysing and creative problem solving, decision making and getting results, communication for sure. Those are the main competencies based on our knowledge on how case studies are handled today. Comparing that to the new model, those are the competencies that are connected somehow.
Q:  Is the new EU test book going to have EU knowledge questions?
A: Yes, it’s going to have at least one hundred EU knowledge questions, presumably more. We are just working on finalising that.
Q: Could we have more information about EU knowledge, please?
A:  What do we know about it right now? EU knowledge tests used to be popular prior to 2010 when the big reform of the EPSO system took place. Now they're coming back. EU knowledge refers to a very broad area because it can include decision making, EU history, EU policies (the key elements of EU policies), institutional knowledge (how the institutions operate). It’s quite broad. EU knowledge will be required for generalist competitions only, which are scheduled to take place or at least scheduled to be launched in late September or early October this year. EU tests are not required for specialist competitions, so that's a bit different, and this test is required right now for many of the European Commission internal competitions.

To recap on specialist competitions: EU knowledge tests are not going to be part of the requirements. What kind of topics do they include? EPSO has said that they will publish the areas or specific sources from which they have constructed or created these multiple-choice tests. That's good news because it limits the scope of what you need to study. Otherwise, it's such a vast area.

Ticiana Tucci: I’d just like to mention when they're going to publish. When they release the notice of the competition for the Generalists, they will be also informing all the candidates of the sources around which they can base their study.
András Baneth: By the way, whatever question we cannot answer right away, we're going to find a way to answer those or record a different event and answer them there. 
Q: What sources would you recommend for the EU test?
A:  Once again, EPSO will publish those sources that will guide you towards the right resources. But as far as I know, we already have a list of good resources and books, e-courses and websites where you can dig deeper into EU knowledge. There’s a free blog post or tips and tricks article that we put out that’s already been published and is available.
Q: How can we practise for the written test?
A: We do have a written test, the case study simulations on our website and you can take it in two ways: either just take the actual written test and practice by yourself based on the background materials and by familiarising yourself with the interface; or you can submit an actual written test and one of our team members will evaluate that and provide you with personalised feedback.

Ticiana Tucci:  What we can also offer you is that once you do the case study on our platform, you can turn to one of our coaches (consisting of myself and my colleagues) and with the feedback that you receive, we can do an analysis together. So, that's the way that we can practise together. EPSO also has some samples on their website where you can also practise. Another way you can do that is like on-the-job learning. Whenever you have to perform a briefing or write a report, what you can do is set some time for yourself to do that report within a time frame and see how you manage the time. Look at all the sources that you need in order to deliver your specific essay, report or briefing. In that way, by being aware of preparing yourself for a specific case study or written test, you are practising on the ground.

András Baneth: Great advice, thank you.

(8 Steps to Ace the EPSO Case Study - free article)
Q: For the administrators in the field of transport, which is scheduled to be launched in July 2023, EPSO has forgotten to mention which AD (administrator level) it's going to be for (i.e., is it going to be AD5/AD6/AD7?).
A: It’s hard for me to guess, but most likely it's going to be AD6 or AD7. Those are typically the levels at which the specialist competitions are launched and those usually require three years of relevant work experience if it's AD6, and six years of experience if it's AD7. These kinds of competitions are typically not launched on the AD5 level because those require no work experience.
Q: What features of the computer for numerical reasoning can we use on the keyboard? Can we delete a digit? Where can we find the same type of calculator to practise with?
A: First of all, for numerical reasoning, you can use an on-screen calculator. It used to be the case that you would be given a physical calculator, but since all the tests are administered remotely, you can only use the on-screen version. I don't think you will be allowed to have a physical calculator or device in the room because that would be against the rules. The one on the screen, at least in our test interface, we tried to replicate the EPSO on-screen calculator to the best of our abilities. In this way, you have the same experience, and you can familiarise yourself with clicking it and doing the calculations and making sure that you can work with it in a quick and efficient manner, so you don’t lose time when you're sitting the exam itself.

Other than that, what features of the keyboard can you use? For numerical reasoning, it's multiple choice, just like the abstract reasoning and the verbal reasoning one. You won't be needing much else on the keyboard other than the mouse and clicking on the right answer. For numerical reasoning, you can also type the digits and do those calculations.
Q: Do you know if the AC (meaning assessment centre) for IT competitions will be exclusively remote or will it happen on the premises in Brussels? Can you send the email for the Ambiorix Center in case we need help with room rental and computers?
A: You can google it, you'll find it on Google Maps by entering You can find us there. As for the IT competitions, I'd say with 99% certainty that it’s going to be remotely done. That competition still has the assessment centre because it's a legacy competition that is still ongoing and there is very little or almost no likelihood that it's going to be in person. Especially if it's an IT competition, doing it online makes sense.
Q: Could you please let us know the level of difficulty for the numerical reasoning questions in your database? Is it always the same regardless of the competition chosen or does it correspond to the level of the AD competitions?
A: Our database has a pretty broad range of difficulty regarding the questions and each question is encoded with a certain level of difficulty. Depending on the allocation, we try to replicate the difficulty of the exam. For example, if you're sitting an AD level competition, then the ones you're going to get in our system will reflect that or replicate that for your practice. Sometimes it's even more difficult and that's deliberate. The practice should be a bit more difficult than the real-life exam; in this way, even under pressure and with the stress of the exam itself, you can perform well.

Additionally, for AST (for assistants level competitions) we adapt for that in our system and it's slightly easier in order to reflect what you can expect from the competition itself.
Q: Would you have any hints on what was the rationale EPSO had for skipping the assessment centre?
A: We are not EPSO and cannot read minds, but we hear rumours, and we had many conversations with a diverse range of stakeholders who were involved in this decision. Our understanding first and foremost is that they wanted to speed up the process. That was the number one thing; to make it quicker for candidates to complete the selection procedure and eventually get onto the reserve list. The idea is to complete the entire process from start to finish, meaning from the day the competition is announced and launched to the day when the reserve list goes up, no more than six months. That's the idea which, in EPSO terms, is very quick, especially if compared to how long it took in the past – a year to sometimes a year and a half.  

The second reason behind that, as I understand it, is that it was costly to run the exams, and train assessors, and to have candidates, especially those that were pre-qualified, to come in person to Brussels, or in some cases to Luxembourg, and evaluate them while they do all these exercises. It was logistically complicated, costly in budgetary terms and overall, quite a complex exercise. Having said that, I was a big fan of the assessment centre. That's my personal assessment, and I think Ticiana would certainly agree with that because it's a great and reliable way of evaluating candidates for their suitability for the job and detecting or truly assessing their competencies which are predetermined. Through these exercises, you can truly see a person much better than you can through computer-based tests. But then again, that's the new reality we need to live with.

One more thing to add: although assessment centres are going to be a thing of the past as of May for the new exams (not ones that are ongoing), there is going to be in some cases, additional evaluations after the reserve list is drawn up. But those are going to be done by the recruiting institutions, or perhaps even the DG (director general) level are going to be the ones evaluating some candidates further.

What that means is that there is a reserve list and beyond that point EPSO is no longer involved. We're not talking about selection anymore, we're talking about recruitment, when specific institutions want to hire people from the reserve list, but they have the right – not the obligation – but the right to require further tests, exams, evaluation or, dare I say, assessment (it becomes a tricky thing not to be confused with a proper assessment centre) from the candidates to see their suitability for a specific position. It's a tricky situation because the institutions can call upon EPSO to provide a kind of back-office support for these evaluations. They are perhaps best termed as advisors, but it's the recruiting institutions who may require those additional exams or evaluations. They're not obliged to do so, it's optional and, at least legally speaking, they can even hire candidates directly from the reserve list without additional tests.

Ticiana Tucci: I just want to make the distinction here between assessment centre and an assessment because indeed they do use the word assessment, and when we have an assessment centre we have many oral tests and written tests to assess the candidates. We do have more than one person evaluating such a candidate, so it's like the whole procedure of selection with different perspectives. That’s what I would say is an assessment centre. When we go just for an assessment, this could be only one interview. That's how they are calling it right now, the phase when you are on the reserve list and then you go for an interview. An oral test might also be included. As we mentioned, there are behavioural competencies that we talked about when we referred to a case study. There are other competencies there that we don't see which they are assessing during the competition phase. We don't have the official information about it, but our intuition says that for the oral tests, there will be maybe one or two interviews with panellists or with a panel of selection members where you might be facing a competency-based interview, a motivation interview, or a situational interview. Just so you are aware that the oral tests are no longer in the competition phase, but they may follow afterwards and I’m quite sure that this may happen. Because they need to assess your skills in working together, learning, intrapreneurship (which is related to leadership), and if you want a source right now to learn from, you can go to their website where you will find the new framework so you can prepare.

We do have a very good eBook that is free which can be downloaded free from our website, and you can compare the actual competence framework with the new one and then you’ll see that you don't need to panic. It's simply an upgrade, what they have done. They changed the names here and there, but you will realise that they're quite the same. My colleague has done this comparison and it's a very good resource to start with and it's a very good resource to use in order to prepare for this oral stage.

András Baneth: Thanks for that comment. We'll see how those plans work out because I think even EPSO themselves are observing and talking to their client institutions (nearly all the institutions use EPSO for the selection phase) and they are in talks to see how this is going to play out. As a result, certain fine tuning may happen and we ourselves are watching. I don't think anyone truly knows how it's going to work in practice until the second half of this year, once the first few competitions have reached that phase where candidates are one reserve list and when the recruiting institutions will actively start to hire people from the reserve list.
Q: Which languages are available for the selection? Do we still need to provide 2 languages?
A: Based on what we know right now, the abstract, verbal and numerical reasoning will stay in the 24 official languages. You will be free to choose any of these regardless of what your citizenship is. For example, as a Hungarian, I could choose English, Maltese or Lithuanian.

When it comes to the EU knowledge test, that's under discussion, it seems, whether that's going to be in English only or all 24 languages, or perhaps only English, French or German. That’s certainly politically and legally quite sensitive because candidates need to be given equal access and at the same time you have the practical implications of which language the test should be administered in. For the assessment centre, it was understandable that for the assessors themselves, it would make life easier if the assessment centres were run in English or French or perhaps German. But when it comes to computer-based tests, the translation is much less of a heavy lifting exercise. It's easier to provide that in all languages logistically, but it remains to be seen how that's going to play out.

The bottom line is that one of the EU 24 official languages plus English or French, that's a safe bet. Beyond that, we need to see how it works out. Regardless, once you start working for the institutions, you must speak at least English; it’s good if you speak some French or German, or one of the other main languages like Italian and Spanish. Plus, you would most likely have your mother tongue, if it’s one of the EU’s official languages. Having one of the EU 24 official languages plus English or French and then perhaps German or Italian or Spanish, one of these, is probably a good bet.
Q: Will the institutions follow a hierarchy based on the result of the reserve list?
A: Reserve lists in the past few years have typically not included any so-called merit groups. Back in the old days when I passed the competition (which was many years ago) there were some competitions, especially for generalists, where they had so-called merit groups and that was based on the result of the selection procedure. For many years now, this has not been the case. Once you passed the competition, you were placed on the reserve list, became a laureate and that was it; there was no ranking. Even the recruiting services had no idea what score you had achieved in the competition, and it was irrelevant as long as you were on the reserve list, which proved that you had passed all the necessary requirements.

In the new system, chances are there's not going to be a ranking either. But again, I'm a bit cautious whether to say that with complete confidence or not. With the generalist competitions, the AD5, which has probably been the most attractive proposition in the past four or five years, it’s going to attract a lot of candidates and a lot of interest. Rumour has it that there are going to be around 300 places on that reserve list, which is subject to the requirements of the different institutions and to any kind of change. But with that assumption, by having 300 people on the reserve list, they might decide that certain merit groups would make sense. I don't think that's going to be the case, but we're speculating at this stage. And typically, the institutions will not look at any sort of ranking.
Q: If this new system will shorten the selection time and the recruitment, will this also apply with the time (six months) that we cannot retake exams again like the CAST?
A: I’ll rephrase the question for those who are less familiar with the system and its details. The contract agent exams, the CAST exams, require abstract, verbal and numerical reasoning tests and if you fail the reasoning tests in that framework, then you cannot retake it for six months, you are not allowed to. The question refers to this moratorium of six months when you cannot retake an EPSO exam if you fail. The answer is no, there's not going to be any such limitation. The rule will still apply that you can take as many competitions as you like, and you can take them in parallel. You can sign up for any competition for which you qualify and meet the objective criteria as well as the criteria related to that particular competition – not just citizenship or having a good code of conduct or knowing the right languages – but also having the right number of years of professional experience (if that is required). For the generalist roles, that is not required, but a certain bachelor’s degree will most likely be a prerequisite.

As long as you meet the criteria, you can apply to 3,4, 5 or any number of competitions in parallel, unless (in the extremely rare and exceptional cases) the notice of competition stipulates that you cannot apply for this competition and that competition at the same time. But typically, where there is one main competition and within that you have one or two tracks or sub-profiles, typically you can only apply for one. However, it's written very clearly in the notice of competition if there's any conflict that you need to be aware of.
Q: Do you know if the pass mark for the CBT (the computer-based test) will be 50% or more, and will it be more difficult than in the previous system?
A: I appreciate that question because we took it for granted until very recently that the pass mark for the abstract, verbal and numerical reasoning under the new system is going to be 50%, and that's not a given. It's going to be pass or fail, but the threshold or cutoff is not necessarily going to be 50% in each and every competition. You need to look at the notice of competition released each time by EPSO and that is where they're going to determine the percentage; let's say you need to get at least 65% of the answers right for you to pass. So, the point is that your performance or results are not compared to other candidates, but the cutoff percentage is not necessarily going to be 50%. It will be detailed in the NoC upfront if it's 50%, 60%, 65% or whatnot, or I can imagine that they’ll determine the cutoff percentage based on the number of candidates or overall performance. You won't necessarily compete with others (there’s no ranking), but the cutoff percentage may be determined by some other factors – the number of candidates, general interest, or general performance overall of all the candidates in that competition. I'm speculating here a little, but the bottom line is that it's a pass/fail but not necessarily at 50%.

One more thing that we have seen in past competitions from time to time is that they might take the abstract reasoning and numerical reasoning and combine the score, then determine the best mark for the combined score. So, you could in some competitions completely fail the abstract reasoning and completely nail the numerical reasoning and still pass because the score is combined. Again, we don't know exactly what those details are going to look like in the new competitions, and it might vary from case to case whether you need to have a pass mark for the abstract reasoning and the numerical reasoning and the verbal reasoning separately, or two might be combined and that makes it a bit easier to pass.

Ticiana Tucci: It's super clear. It's really a pass or fail as you mentioned, and the main source for all that information would be the notice of competition. All the communication that EPSO provides throughout the year on their website states that the notice of competition will be mentioning that information. So, we need to wait and of course if we do have this information in advance, we will share it on our channels, our social media, and on our website.

András Baneth: We like sharing helpful information, the very thing we're doing right now, because I know that candidates appreciate that information and it helps your preparation and helps your success rate, ultimately and that's pretty much our mission.
Q: About the multiple-choice questions for specialist competitions: is EPSO going to publish the sources for specialist competitions just like they promised for the EU knowledge test?
A: At the current stage, this is not the plan. You're not going to be told what to prepare for if you're applying for the economist competition or the intellectual property one, or some of the others that are coming up. What you can do in general is certainly look at the various commission (DG) directorate general websites which deal with that particular topic. So, for economists, it would be DG ECFIN and some other related DGs. 

You can look at the European Parliament website. They have an excellent collection of fact sheets that provide a good summary of EU legislation, the decision-making procedure, and the core elements of a given policy in that particular field. It's quite up to date with a lot of links, so you can do further reading. 
Annual reports are often good sources of inspiration and information; an annual report of a commission directorate general where you can look at what the key topics, the key issues are that they dealt with in the past year. 

And there are certainly textbooks such as economic textbooks. But keep in mind that this is the European Union selection test, so these are strictly related to the EU. There is a certain focus and perspective that you might want to take and if you look at a textbook, it may not need to be economics 101, but about EU economic studies or related topics. 

I know it's broad and I wish I could tell you these are the exact sources that you need to look at, but I think that if you take any area in which the competition may be announced, my guess is that you can find the building blocks of the main areas which constitute the body of knowledge in that particular field, but from an EU perspective.

We are offering multiple choice tests in almost all the fields, and the ones that we're not offering yet we will do so in the future. We're very actively doing that research and having conversations and contacting people who are experts in those fields so we can offer you multiple choice specific tests, including in economics, transport, intellectual property, crisis management, migration, in all the competitions that are coming up. And on top of that, certainly in EU knowledge as well. We have over 600 EU knowledge tests on our website now and the database is growing.

Ticiana Tucci: When you receive the notice of the competition, please pay attention to the duties and the selection criteria as well. In my experience in training and preparing candidates for written tests in the field, we see that for some competitions (not all of them) but for some, the source for the field-related written test is ultimately the notice of competition. So, that might be another source that you can base your preparations on when EPSO releases the notice of competition.

András Baneth: A very good point, thank you, because the notice of competition is always a source of a lot of helpful information, sometimes even more so than it might seem at first glance. And that’s among the many things we're trying to do for our candidates is to read between the lines and get a better sense of what exactly is expected of you in the context of our understanding of how EPSO works and the many years during which we've been observing these selection procedures.
Q: Can we use the 2019 version of the test book?
A: You can, because the abstract, verbal and numerical reasoning is going to be just as valid and applicable for the upcoming competitions. Also, the methodology parts in the test work are just as applicable and relevant. Certain descriptions about the procedure obviously will change, so that's not going to be applicable or relevant any longer. But when it comes to the actual practice tests in the book, those are just as applicable as before. I'm totally talking against my commercial interests, but certainly if you have that book, it's just as handy as before. 
A new edition, as I mentioned, is coming out and we're mostly focusing on adding the EU knowledge test, updating the procedural part, and refreshing other parts, but those are the core elements that we are mostly replacing, rather than just refreshing. But the abstract, verbal and numerical parts are broadly going to stay the same, so that is not going to undergo any radical updates.
Q: Are the tests going to be held on one day even though the computer-based tests or the reasoning tests are pass or fail?
A: Yes, you do the whole sequence of tests in a single day and that practically means a couple of hours, maybe two to three hours depending on how much time there is going to be given for the written test, with the knowledge that if you do not pass the abstract, verbal and numerical reasoning, you don't get to have your EU knowledge, specific knowledge tests or your written exam scored. 

I'm wondering out loud now, it's not something I've thought about before, but it does raise the question whether you're going to know immediately whether you passed or failed the reasoning tests. Because if so, then it wouldn't make much sense to take the other tests. But if the cut off mark, the percentage I spoke about earlier, is not known at the moment you take the test, then chances are you need to take all the tests–some of which may be in vain if you have not passed the reasoning tests at the beginning. 

So, my understanding would be that you need to take everything–abstract, verbal, numerical, EU knowledge or domain specific knowledge and then the written exam in the form of a case study, and then perhaps a digital literacy skills test if that's part of your particular competition, and that's the whole package that you need to take in one sitting in front of your computer or at our computer at the Ambiorix center remotely. Once you're done, you're done. You're not going to be called in for a second or third round. 
The next step after that is basically when you receive a notification that, “we're happy to let you know…”, or “we are sorry to let you know…”, and that means you are placed on the reserve list, or you can try another competition, or the same competition if and when it's announced again.
Q: When will these tests be available (EU training or EU knowledge test)?
A: Those are already available on our website. As for the domain specific tests on upcoming fields such as economics and intellectual property – the economics test has already been approved and uploaded, so presumably in a week or two that should be available on our website. And when it comes to intellectual property, that's also being drafted as we speak, as are a couple of other domains. So, we are doing our very best to make those available by the time a given competition in that field is announced.
Q: Will the computer-based test, so the reasoning test for specialist competitions, have the same level of difficulty as for the AD5, or can we expect it to be easier?
A: I can see arguments for both cases. They might make it easier because it's a specialist one and that's not the main tool through which EPSO wants to select you if they want to focus on your domain specific knowledge. That would be the argument to make it easier. But I could also see them making it more difficult, given that it's an AD6 or AD7 level, so those are higher levels in the ranking and those typically have slightly more difficult reasoning tests. Who knows? We need to see.

The general piece of advice: apply, try to practise with difficult tests, that's only going to benefit you when you're sitting the exam and it's easier than what you had expected.
Q: Do you think that in the computer-based test there will be a situational judgement?
A: Currently, in the reformed selection procedure, there is no SJT (Situational judgement test). That's not part of the package that was approved under the umbrella of the new system. Situational judgement tests were in fact mentioned as an additional, potential exam (I'm cautious using the word exam) as an additional evaluation or assessment after the reserve list is drawn up. I am doubtful that it's going to be part of the system again and, as I just said, it has been floated as an idea, but is not really part of any serious thinking, at least not now.
Q: Do you also offer services after having passed the competition to ensure you get invited for an interview and then recruited?
Ticiana Tucci: Yes, you can count on us. We are really prepared to support your preparation for such an exam. For all the oral exams, we have trainers who can support and coach you.

Besides the competitions itself, we also work supporting candidates for agency interviews, for CAST interviews. Whenever you have an EU job where you are going to face an interview, you can count on us, because we are experts in career coaching and job interviews. We can support you either in the field or also in the behavioural setting. Just mentioning the aspect of the structure of your responses, or your communication skills. Now that everything will be remote, how you behave in front of the camera, looking at the camera, providing eye contact, your body language; there are many aspects that we can work together on and for sure you can count on us.

András Baneth: And aside from that, there's also a webinar that I recorded probably around two or three years ago – perhaps it's time for me to do a refreshe r– which is about how to get a job once you are on the reserve list. That webinar essentially talks about different ways of presenting a motivation letter, lobbying for a specific position and how you might want to approach those heads of units who have advertised a vacancy that is available for laureates who are placed on the reserve list. There are a couple of other techniques that you can apply so you are eventually hired. 

This is a pretty important point because the reserve lists are slated to be larger, so more candidates will eventually be placed on the reserve list. What we're hearing is that it will be roughly twice the number of vacancies that need to be filled. So, if there are say 300 vacancies that need to be filled, the reserve list may have 600 candidates. That is a delicate point in the new system because, despite being on the reserve list, there's no guarantee of being hired. The chances are extremely high, however, if the ratio is 1:2. The chance of being hired is 50%, or actually higher than 50% because some candidates will have a different situation in their life, or change their mind, or move elsewhere and will therefore no longer be interested in getting a job. They will no longer be competitors for a particular vacancy. So, chances are still very good at around 60% once you're on a reserve list, but it's not a 100% guarantee that you're going to be hired. Therefore, there are certain things you can do and should do to increase your chances of getting hired. 

Ticiana Tucci: Let me just include something here because one of the documents that we received from our sources talks about being proactive when you are on the reserve list. 
Be aware of networking and how important that is through LinkedIn, within the institutions, knowing people who could connect you with other people who might be also helpful for you to get the opportunity. Once you are on the reserve list, don't wait. Start doing your research and try to understand where the best people are for you, who those people are, where can you find them, who can connect you with them if you don't know them, do you see them on LinkedIn? I mean for you to just be really proactive in that sense and then start your recruitment process by yourself. 

Also, the aspect that András mentioned about the motivation letter and CV, that is super important. But getting back to the interview, like the oral phase, how do you pose your motivation to the recruiter, what are your answers within the interview. Make sure to reinforce the proactive side and also the interview side of the process.
Q: Regarding the ECDL (the European Computer Driving License) and the digital skills test. Are the two comparable?
A: I'm not that familiar with the ECDL. Chances are that there are some commonalities, given the fact that it's about computers and digital literacy. However, it's also about understanding how you can be hacked and the dark web, so it's a broader understanding of the digital space in which we live.
Q: What are the chances of being recruited to a contract agent role?
A: As mentioned, the CAST selection process is slightly different because it's demand driven. You register in a database and then are shortlisted – that's when you need to sit the reasoning tests. Those who pass will be in a small group from which the institutions or a specific head of unit might recruit you. It's more a case of being in that database and waiting to be found and picked, whereas the reserve list is really geared towards filling the recruitment needs of an institution. There is an ongoing, active need in human resource terms to fill certain upcoming or existing vacancies.

We’re going to keep everyone posted on the new EPSO system as it evolves, and we will most probably have another similar event to take your questions in a month or two so we can bring you the most up to date information.

In the meantime, if you have any other questions, feel free to send us a message through our contact form and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.