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The EU (EPSO) Recruitment Exam

New to the EU Recruitment Process? Check our step-by-step quick guide!

 Here is a video from one of our webcasts on the Administrator exams: How does the EPSO Administrator competitions work?


Step #1 - The Notice of Competition

What is a concours?

All permanent staff for the EU institutions are recruited through open competitions (commonly referred to as 'concours' in all languages) organised by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) offering EU Careers for all EU institutions, such as the European Commission, the Council of Ministers (also called Council of the European Union), the European Court of Auditors (ECA), the Court of Justice of the EU (and the General Court of the EU), the European Parliament (EP), the Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). These attract a very considerable number of applicants who know that passing the competition is the only way to become a permanent official in an EU institution. Regarding non-permanent jobs like temporary agents or contract agents, a similar selection takes place, though for EU Agencies a simple CV application and job interview is enough.

Where can I find open competitions for EU jobs?

  • The easiest is to check out the EU Jobs section of our website, where we post all jobs published by EPSO and the temporary jobs offered by EU Agencies around the European Union.
  • You may also want to sign up for our newsletter to receive up-to-date information on upcoming exams, vacancies and preparation tips.
  • You can also choose to attend (from your home or office, as no travelling is needed!) our live online webinar training where we offer in-depth preparation help.
  • Officially, EU open competitions are published in the 'C' series of the Official Journal (OJ) of the European Union. Information about competitions can also be found on the website of EPSO

 How long does the recruitment process take?

  • In the new system in place as of 2010, competitions run in 7-9 month long cycles.
  • Applications for European Policy Administrator (AD) positions can be submitted in March each year and the reserve list will be available in December.
  • Linguistic administrators such as translators, interpreters and lawyer-linguists (AD) will apply in each June and a decision will be made by March the following year.
  • Assistants and secretaries (AST) can apply in December and seal the deal by September next year.

 Here is a video from our Croatian webcast:

Step #2 - The Pre-Selection Procedure

Submit Your Application

  • Application is done online through EPSO's online application system.
  • Should you need help or advice in filling out the application, please feel free to contact our experts!

Professional Competencies in the Spotlight

  • As of 2010, a fundamentally reshaped EPSO recruitment system is in place. This signals a move away from a selection system centred around lexical knowledge on the EU to one with a focus on professional competencies.
  • These competencies are tested through three types of tests: Verbal Reasoning, Numerical Reasoning and Abstract Reasoning.


Verbal Reasoning

Verbal and numerical reasoning are good old friends to all candidates familiar with the EU recruitment process.

The verbal reasoning test is designed to test your ability to comprehend complex written texts. Currently, verbal reasoning tests can be taken in 3 languages (English, German or French). However, for those taking the test in a foreign language, the verbal reasoning test can be seen more as a language test than a truly intelligence-based reasoning exercise. For this reason, EPSO is now considering to introduce verbal reasoning tests in all 23 official EU languages. However, this will not affect exams starting in 2010. We will keep you posted well before this development is introduced.

Verbal Reasoning:

Check our FREE Demo for Samples!

Numerical Reasoning

Numerical reasoning tests are designed to assess your ability to efficiently analyse numerical data, such as statistics. The data may be presented in a table (look right), or in the form of charts and diagrams. Either way, your task is to figure out how to get from Data A to Data B.

Numerical Reasoning:

Check our FREE Demo for Samples!


  Abstract Reasoning

  • The abstract reasoning test is designed to measure your so-called “fluid intelligence” (a fancy way to call intuition), but there are of course lots of methods to prepare for it.
  • Those of you who have ever tried an IQ test may find some of these graphic tests similar in style.
  • Typical abstract reasoning figures have various patterns and shapes, and often all you need to look for is how they are rotated, mirrored, or manipulated some other way.

 Abstract Reasoning:

Check our FREE Demo for Samples!

 ‘What would you do if…?’ – Situational Judgment Test (SJT)

  • Another new item in the pre-selection phase is a new approach to measuring your reactions in work-related situations
  • Suppose you manage a team and realized that they are making mistakes. In a situational judgment (or behavioural reasoning) test, you need to decide the most and least effective action to take in the given situation.
  • EPSO will score the answers you have chosen and use it to generate a competency report, detailing your strengths and weaknesses across the skills they tested.
  • EPSO will use this competency report when conducting the next testing stage, the Assessment Centre.

Here is a video from one of our earlier webcasts

Step #3 - The Assessment Centre

  • The purpose of an Assessment Centre testing is to model more closely real-life work situations and competences during recruitment.
  • An Assessment Centre is literally an evaluation centre, a place where you spend almost a full day during which you perform various tasks and assessors observe and score your behaviour and answers.
  • Answers you have given in the Situational Judgment test will be highly relevant to the Assessment Centre testing. EPSO will conduct your “structured interview” based on the competency report generated on the basis of the results of your Situational Judgment Test.
  • Applicants for Assistant positions will go through an E-Tray Exercise, which is the electronic version of an in-tray exercise, designed to test your ability to prioritize, organise and communicate with several people. In practice, you will sit in front of a computer and see an imaginary Outlook inbox with emails, attachments, meeting requests, while you realize that your to-do list has grown tremendously.
  • Applicants for Administrator positions will go through a Case Study Exercise. This exercise will be a simulation of a typical work assignment and EU official may receive.
  • You will first be given background information from various sources, e.g., a Commission draft proposal for new legislation, a feasibility study or similar. Then, you will be given some time to process the information before the assessors will test your intuition and judgment, as well as your ability to comprehend a wide range of subjects quickly.

 Step #4 - Reserve List & Job Interview

  • Finalists who successfully passed the Assessment Centre will be placed in a central reserve list from which the different institutions can pick their future employees.
  • This reserve list does not guarantee you a job, but confirms that you have fulfilled the objective criteria to become an official and you are eligible by any EU institution for recruitment.
  • Reserve lists are usually valid for 1-2 years, many times validity is renewed.
  • Candidates on the reserve list should initiate contacts and try to ‘lobby’ for an interview, bearing in mind that they have fulfilled the formal requirements needed for the given post.

Step #5 - Recruitment

Successful candidates are initially recruited as probationer officials and their appointment will only become permanent after 9 months.

The above salaries are subject to a beneficial taxation regime for EU officials, which is generally around 10-20% of the gross income. Nevertheless, some special allowances are added to the net salary, such as expatriation allowance, household allowance or dependent child allowance.

Types of Jobs

Working for an EU Institution

  • Permanent job: concours required, see above
  • Temporary job: a “fast-track” concours is required
  • EU Agencies: always temporary jobs
  • 3-6 month EU traineeships

EU Affairs Jobs

  • You can work on exciting EU matters even if you do not work for one of the EU institutions – see our career advice page!
  • Opportunities at NGOs, lobbying firms, PR agencies, industry assocations and many other businesses
  • Jobs with national delegations, European parties, and others

Check out the Latest EPSO Exams!

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