You Ask - We Answer: Frequently Asked EU Career Questions

EU recruitment processes can be difficult and confusing to navigate. There are a lot of paths one can follow to secure and EU job, but the outcomes vary greatly.

Below we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions that we regularly receive from EPSO candidates and EU career hopefuls, so you can get some clear answers.

To get even more answers, to even more questions, you might enjoy these 7 FREE EU Career Workshop Recordings.

 

How much time would you recommend investing in EPSO exam preparation?

How much time do you have? How strong are your skills in the areas they are testing?

Preparing for EPSO exams is like training for a marathon. You need to give yourself time to exercise the brain muscles and develop the skill-sets required to complete these tests quickly and correctly. Consistent practice over an extended period of time is needed.

We generally recommend that candidates start practicing 10-12 weeks before their computer-based reasoning tests and aim to practice for at least 1-hour per day or 10-hours per week. Your goal should be to answer at least 85% of the questions correctly under exam mode conditions.

EU Training has a massive database of all types of EPSO-style exam questions and our tests can be taken in 'practice mode' or 'exam mode'.

In addition to this, we have lots of valuable preparation resources available - webinars, e-books, tips and tricks articles etc - and many of these are free!

 

In terms of CAST exams, what does a field-specific test look like - regarding content?  Do we need to have detailed topic knowledge of the field(s) we’re applying for?

Take a look at the recording of this free information session: 2019 EPSO CAST Demystified - Q&A - it discusses all aspects of the CAST selection process, including the individual tests that candidates will need to undertake and how to prepare for them.

EU Training has practice field-relates tests available for each CAST profile here.

Also, take a look through this Facebook group: EPSO CAST Exams - there are a lot of discussions concerning test questions for each EPSO profile. 

 

When do CAST/EPSO exams usually take place?

You can register in the CAST database at any time. There is no application deadline for this process. Once you have registered, you will need to wait to be invited to sit a CAST exam. For a full overview of how the CAST selection process works take a look at this information session's recording: 2019 EPSO CAST Demystified - Q&A

Some EPSO competitions are announced annually and some are only announced when there is a need to hire candidates for a specific area of expertise. To hear about upcoming competitions don't forget to follow us on Facebook, also keep your eyes on EPSO's Upcoming Opportunities page. 

There is no set time for when specific exams take place during a given year - it really depends on the individual competition's selection schedule. 

 

When applying for a CAST profile, should we be broad to show availability for different vacancies or is it better to focus on one particular potential position?

Only register for those profiles and levels where your skills and experience are most relevant. Recruiters will be searching for specific keywords and will only invite you to sit a computer-based exam or participate in an interview round if you are a strong match for the post they are looking to fill.

Apply to as many CAST profiles and levels are you wish, but relevance is key.

There are many available candidates in the database, the goal is to stand out...and the way to do that is to be relevant and have a strong application.

Did you know EU Training offers Application Assistance?

 

Do you know if exams for Administrators AD5-AD7 will take place this year?

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken everything to its core, including the EPSO selection processes. It is impossible to tell with any certainty which competitions will or won't take place this year - it really is up to EPSO.

We are closely monitoring the situation and following any developments concerning new and ongoing EPSO competitions. To receive notifications from us about EPSO news and developments make sure to follow us on Facebook.

Also, you might find our latest EPSO update article an interesting read: 
EPSO Competitions - See What's Coming Up Post COVID-19 Lockdown

 

What is the recruitment process for the EEAS? Is it distinct from the rest?

The EEAS (European Union External Action Service) is a hybrid organisation, a bit like the Foreign Affairs Ministry but it’s a blended organisation where some of the staff come from the European Commission (so they are seconded by the EU Commission), other staff come from the Council of Ministers and the rest of the staff come from national administrations, for example the Spanish civil service. 

This status is quite unique and basically there is a mix of what type of administrative status the staff can have - some may have diplomatic status, others are civil servants or technical experts and then there can also be local staff in a certain region of the world. It's a unique set up.

Our free workshop recording on Working FOR or WITH the EU talks about the different types of recruitment opportunities. 

Also, you might be interested in the upcoming Administrators in the field of External Relations competition, from which the EEAS will be recruiting staff that go through a selection process organised by EPSO. Selection process specifics are not known yet, and applications have not open yet, but the Notice of Competitions is scheduled to be released sometime in Summer 2020. 

In the meantime, you might like to join the EPSO Administrators in the field of External Relations Exams Facebook group and connect with other candidate waiting for this competition to kick-off. 

 

Can I get hired by an EU institution for a temporary contract without having passed an EPSO-test?

EU agencies - yes, but EU institutions - no.

EU agencies (such as the Food Safety Authority) are the ones that typically employ temporary agents. 

Temporary agents are slightly different to contract agents and permanent officials because they do not typically go through the EPSO selection process. Instead, they are selected directly by the hiring EU agency on the basis of an open application (CV and cover letter), and an interview process follows.

Contract agents, that can be hired by EU Institutions, need to go through the systemised process that is administered by EPSO. 

 

What is the usual proportion of Contractors versus EU permanent staff? Are there positions that cannot be occupied by contractors?

EU institutions are recruiting more and more contract staff, but the exact number between contractors and permanent staff is difficult to know. 

There are many positions that cannot be held by a contractor, meaning you need to successfully make it onto a competition's Reserve List and be recruited as a Permanent Official to access.

 

Are older versions of The Ultimate EU Test Book still relevant?

It is important to note that exams for any given EPSO competition can change over time. The different versions of the book reflect these changes. The latest version obviously has the most up-to-date information in it, but that doesn't mean that the test methodology or sample tests featured in older versions is no longer relevant. 

 

I know this is a delicate question, seeing as you are the author, but is there a way of preparing well without the book?

Absolutely! The Ultimate EU Test Book offers a great way to prepare for the EPSO exams, but there are also online methods as well. 

EU Training offers EPSO-like test simulations that you can practice with under exam conditions - check out some free demo tests here and then take a look at the practice test package options

There are also methodology webinars that you can watch (many are FREE), participate in training sessions, do some one-on-one coaching with an EPSO expert - there are a lot of options out there.