What makes a career fit is that it fits you. It uses your natural inborn talents fully. It fits your personality. You find the subject matter interesting and the work personally meaningful. The position fulfills your goals. Your work environment nurtures and rewards your best efforts. You enjoy what you do, and it stays interesting and challenging as the years roll by.
The EU Institutions employ 40,000 women and men from a wide variety of cultural, educational, and professional backgrounds who are united by their passion for Europe. Throughout their career, employees have the possibility to move from one department or job-profile to another (mobility). In this way they have the opportunity to discover different policies and services in the Institutions and also to broaden their skills and competencies.
The type of job profiles available in the institutions of the European Union are as wide as the activities of the European Union itself. Some examples: Policy officers, project officers, communication & press officers, accounting officers Lawyers, auditors, scientific officers, contract administrators, socio-economic analysts, case handlers Translators, interpreters, lawyer-linguists, proofreaders Secretaries, HR assistants, financial assistants, conference organisers ICT specialists, web designers, audiovisual technicians, conference technicians Doctors, veterinaries, nurses, social workers Civil servants in the Institutions are divided into two functions groups – administrators and assistants. In parallel, there is a linear career system which consists of 16 levels (grades). The administrator function group (AD) covers grades 5 to 16. New staff generally enter this group at grade 5. The assistant function (AST) covers grades 1 to 11 (overlapping with Administrators in grades 5-11). New staff usually enters at grades 1 or 3.
Following a comprehensive job analysis of all entry grades of EU officials across the Institutions, aimed at identifying the key characteristics and behaviours of effective officials, a set of core competencies emerged – common to all institutions and equally valid at AD and AST levels. The seven core competencies identified are as follows: Analysis and Problem SolvingIdentifies the critical facts in complex issues and develops creative and practical solutions CommunicatingCommunicates clearly and precisely both orally and in writing Delivering Quality and ResultsTakes personal responsibility and initiative for delivering work to a high standard of quality within set procedures Learning and Development Develops and improves personal skills and knowledge of the organisation and its environment Prioritising and OrganisingPrioritises the most important tasks, works flexibly and organises own workload efficiently ResilienceRemains effective under a heavy workload, handles organisational frustrations positively and adapts to a changing work environment Working with OthersWorks co-operatively with others in teams and across organisational boundaries and respects differences between people A further competency applies to AD grades: LeadershipManages, develops and motivates people to achieve results
The European institutions select future officials through open competitions, which involve a series of competitive examinations Competitions are open to all citizens of the European Union who meet the specified requirements. This procedure gives all candidates a fair chance to demonstrate their abilities and guarantees selection based on merit while observing the principle of equal treatment. A Notice of Competition (23 languages) setting out the requirements for each competition is published in the Official Journal of the European Union and can be accessed via the EU Careers website. Online registration to competitions is via the same website (in English, French or German). A selection board is appointed to select the best candidates in the light of the requirements set out in the competition notice. The board compares the candidates’ performance in order to assess their suitability for the duties described in the notice. Its task is not only to evaluate their knowledge but also to identify those who are best qualified in terms of merit. Competitions are organised: - either in annual cycles; - or to meet specific needs of the institutions. More on the annual cycles of competitions on a later slide. Candidates who pass a competition are placed on a reserve list from which the institutions draw recruits as and when they need them. The aim of a competition, then, is not to fill a specific post, but to constitute a reserve pool for recruitment. The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) is the interinstitutional office responsible for organising competitions . Two-stage procedure: Selection Recruitment EPSO is responsible for the selection procedure. The Institutions are responsible for recruitment.
This diagram illustrates how the new annual cycle of competitions operates. From 2010, competitions for generalist profiles are being organised in annual cycles. Registration for competitions for Administrators open in March, for Linguists (translators and interpreters) in July and for Assistants in December. The registration period is usually open for one month. The selection procedure lasts 5-9 months depending on the number of candidates. In addition to the annual cycles for generalist profiles, competitions for more specialised profiles will also be organised throughout the year, depending on the recruitment needs of the institutions.
The EU Careers website is divided into three pillars: Discover EU careers: to find out about the range of job opportunities and types of employment in the EU institutions and what to expect during the selection procedures. Apply here: create an EPSO account needed to apply online, apply online for a competition and monitor progress of (existing) applications. Successful candidates: information for those who have passed a competition.
Officials working in the EU institutions must be citizens of one of the 27 Member States of the European Union and enjoy their full rights as a citizen, and speak at two of the official languages of the European Union. In addition, they must meet the character requirements for the duties involved and have fulfilled any obligations imposed on them by the laws on military service. Currently, candidates in competitions must choose either English, French or German as a second language, as these are the languages in which the tests are conducted. It is not possible to take the tests in your native language (i.e. someone with English as main language must take the tests in either French or German). These are the minimum requirements and there may be specific requirements depending on the type of competition, i.e. translators and interpreters will require additional and specific language knowledge. This information is set out in the Notice of Competition. There is no age limit.
The minimum qualifications required for an Administrator competition is a 3-year university degree (or equivalent). Depending on the field of the competition, this qualification may need to be in a specific subject (i.e. a law degree for a lawyer competition). AD5 is the grade at which graduates enter an administrator’s career in the institutions. Administrators recruited at this grade can undertake, under supervision, three main types of work in the institutions: policy formulation, operational delivery and resource management. For competitions at this grade, no professional experience is required. We are particularly looking for candidates with a potential for career development. Generalist Assistant competitions may be organised at two different entry grades, AST1 and AST3. The entry requirements differ between the two levels. For AST1, a post-secondary qualification in a subject relevant to the field of the competition (e.g. secretarial diploma for a secretary competition) OR a higher secondary school diploma AND relevant professional experience (e.g. 2 years working as a secretary for a secretary competition). For AST3, more years of relevant professional experience will be required. Details of the qualifications/professional experience required for each competition are set out in the Notice of Competition.
This is a simplified diagram of the structure of a competition, which does not reflect all possible variations for different types of competitions. Online registration and booking of CBT test appointment (via EU Careers website and EPSO Account) Sitting computer-based admission tests (may not apply for specialist competitions) – details of types of tests on later slides. The candidates who achieve the best marks in the admission tests are invited to attend an assessment centre in Brussels – details on later slides. The candidates who achieve the highest aggregate marks at the assessment centre will be included on a reserve list (subject to proof that they meet all the eligibility requirements) and are then available for recruitment by an institutiton).
Where competitions require it, EPSO organises tests for admission to open competitions as described in the competition notice. Candidates take these tests on a computer in centres that specialise in this kind of test. If you satisfy the conditions specified in the competition notice for the admission tests, you will be invited, via your EPSO account, to reserve a date within a range indicated in the invitation. As a rule, you will be offered several possible dates and centres. A list of centres throughout the European Union (and possibly in some non-member countries) will be sent to you via your EPSO account.. Depending on the competition you have applied for, the tests may include the following: Verbal reasoning – short passages of text, multiple-choice questions. Numerical reasoning – tables/graphs, multiple-choice questions. Abstract reasoning – series of diagrams that follow a logical sequence or contain a set of underlying rules, task is to choose the next diagram in the series from a number of different answer options. Test(s) in the field chosen. Situational judgement test – questions describing a work-related scenario linked to a block of four possible actions (MCQ format). Out of these, you are asked to choose the most effective AND the least effective action to take, in the light of the given situation. At first, SJT will be deployed as an additional non-eliminatory element and the results will be provided to the Selection Board for advisory purposes at the assessment centre. A key principle in developing EPSO&apos;s enhanced selection methods is the shift from knowledge to competency-based assessment whilst continuing to respect the principle of fair and equal treatment at the same time. This approach will also be applied at the admission test stage of future open competitions. That&apos;s why EPSO has enlarged its range of cognitive ability tests by replacing the EU knowledge test with an abstract reasoning test. This test - which is free of linguistic elements - offers a range of advantages for conducting fair and impartial assessments of candidates from 27 different EU Member States. Essentially, the abstract reasoning test has been proved to be: • An objective, reliable and fair testing tool • Largely unaffected by differences in ethnicity, education, gender and cultural background • A good predictor of future job performance. . What will CBT look like for the first AD cycle in March? Candidates will take a total of four tests within a 2 hour time period (including a short break): verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, abstract reasoning as well as the non-eliminatory Situational Judgement Tests. There will be a minimum pass mark for the verbal reasoning test, as well as a combined minimum pass mark for the numerical and abstract reasoning tests. Thus, a candidate would be able to compensate a lower score in one test by a better performance in the other one. Please note that key parameters for all admission tests like number of items and time available per test may vary for each competition. This information shall be published well in advance in various sources, namely Notice of Competition, Instructions and Booking letters.
More sample test questions available on the EU Careers website.
More sample tests are available on the EU Careers website.
Under the new competition procedures, EPSO uses a standard « assessment centre » model, based on competencies. This model has been chosen by the institutions to be able to identify the most suitable and competent candidates for the profile required. After the admission tests, candidates are invited to an assessment centre session, which is normally held in Brussels. In the assessment centre, candidates will be tested by appropriate instruments. A detailed explanation of these items will be given in the « Assessment Centre » brochure that candidates will receive when invited to take part in this stage of the procedure. The competition notice lists the items used for a particular competition. The assessment centre for the Administrator competition published in March 2010 will contain a case study, a group exercise, an oral presentation and a structured interview. The exercises will be undertaken in the candidate’s language 2. The candidate’s main language will also be tested during the case study. The specific competencies in the field of the competition will be marked out of 20 (pass park: 10) and the general competencies will be marked out of 10 (pass mark: 3 for each competency and 50 out of 80 for all 8 general competencies.
Following the competition, the selection board draws up a reserve list containing the names of successful candidates. The list is then sent to the institutions, since responsibility for recruitment rests solely with them. They will also be sent a document known as a “competency passport” setting out your performance at the assessment centre, which they may use during the recruitment procedure and with a view to your career development. If your name is included on the reserve list, you may be invited by an institution for an interview, but this does not mean you have any right to or guarantee of recruitment. Under the Staff Regulations, recruitment depends on posts and funds becoming available. Recruitment will be at the grade indicated in the competition notice.
More information on the steps following establishment of the reserve list are available in the third pillar « Successful candidates » of the EU Careers website.
The Institutions offer a competitive remuneration package. There is a single pay scale for AD and AST positions with 16 grades (each with 5 seniority steps). Staff automatically advance through the seniority steps within a single grade. They move up one step every two years until they reach the last step in the grade, where upon further progress requires promotion into the next grade. Each promotion up the ladder from grades 1 to 16 provides an equal percentage of salary increase. The remuneration package also includes a system of allowances – household allowance, dependent child allowance, education allowance, expatriation allowance, annual allowance towards the cost of travel to the place of origin, and others. Basic monthly salaries (on 1 July 2009): AST1 (step 1): €2600 AST3 (step 1): €3300 AD5 (step 1): €4200 The salaries paid by the European institutions are subject to a Community tax and not to a national tax in any of the Member States. More information on the working conditions is contained in the Staff Regulations, available via the EU Careers website.
You will find more information and the latest news regarding competitions on the EU Careers website. The Discover EU careers section has information in 23 languages, the other two sections are in English, French and German. Specific questions can be asked via the contact form on the website.
Europe Direct Antwerp
25 September 2010
Why EU Careers?
A career with the EU Institutions gives you:
• A lifetime of different jobs
• Interesting and challenging work that makes a real
difference for Europe
• An environment where you are encouraged to learn
new skills and languages
• The opportunity to work and travel abroad, and work
with people from all over Europe
• An attractive benefits package
Choose EU Careers
Court of Justice
Court of Auditors
Ctte of Regions
… and many other
agencies of the EU
Who wants to work
for a company
when you can work
for the whole of Europe?
• Follow the EU Careers “raconteurs” (blogging about their
lives in the EU institutions) on:
• Read profiles/watch videos of officials in the EU institutions:
All accessible via
How can you prepare
while having fun at it?
What is an EU career?
Two categories of staff – wide variety of profiles:
• Administrators (AD)
e.g. policy officers, lawyers, auditors, scientific officers,
translators, interpreters, communication & press officers …
• Assistants (AST)
e.g. secretaries, HR assistants, financial assistants,
conference technicians …
What we look for
• Best candidates across Europe
• Motivation to work for Europe
• Strong analytical, organisational and
• Ability to adapt easily to a variety of
environments and stakeholders
Do you have what it takes?
• You would like to use and enhance your
• You have the drive to deliver results and the
ability to work effectively as part of a multi-
• You are eager to learn and develop your
knowledge and skills
Analysis and Problem Solving
You identify the critical facts in
complex issues and develop
creative and practical solutions
You communicate clearly and
precisely both orally and in writing
Delivering Quality and Results
You take personal responsibility
and initiative for delivering work to
a high standard of quality within
Learning and Development
You develop and improve
personal skills and knowledge of
the organisation and its
Prioritising and Organising
You prioritise the most important
tasks, work flexibly and organise
your own workload efficiently
You remain effective under a
heavy workload, handle
positively and adapt to a
changing work environment
Working with Others
You work co-operatively with
others in teams and across
organisational boundaries and
respect differences between
You manage, develop and
motivate people to achieve results
How to apply
• Single point of entry:
– European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO)
• Entry is by open competition
– Notice of Competition published in Official Journal of European
Union, also available via www.eu-careers.eu
• Organised in annual cycles for general profiles
– More specialised profiles “on demand”
• Apply online at: www.eu-careers.eu
• EPSO selects candidates
– Selection procedure = 5-9 months
• Institutions recruit from selected candidates
Who can apply – basic requirements
• Citizens of the 27 Member States
• Knowing at least 2 official EU languages
– Currently 2nd
language must be EN, FR or DE
Who can apply - qualifications
For Administrator grades:
• University degree (bachelor)
For Assistant grades:
• Higher secondary education (at least)
• Relevant professional experience
NB: Specific requirements for each competition
– see Notice of Competition
Competition structure – general overview
1 : 3
1. Admission Tests (CBT)
– multiple-choice tests in EN, FR or DE
– cognitive abilities
– test centre in your country
– all applicants
2. Assessment Centre
– EPSO assessment centre in Brussels
3. Reserve list
– fixed quota
See Notice of Competition for details
Computer based tests - overview
• Verbal reasoning
• Numerical reasoning
• Abstract reasoning (new)
• Situational judgement (new – non-eliminatory)
• AST: Professional skills
• Linguists: Language skills
• (EU knowledge is no longer tested)
in second language (English, French or German)
Depending on the competition:
• Case study in the field in question
• Exercises relating to professional skills
• Oral presentation
• Structured interview
• Group exercises
• Practical language tests
• Verbal/numerical/abstract reasoning and
situational judgement tests
Conclusion - Reserve list
• List of successful candidates
+ “competency passport”
• Basis for recruitment by Institutions
• Valid for at least one year – may be extended
• No guarantee of a job…
EU Careers – recruitment process
• Institutions check profiles of successful candidates
• Candidates invited to job interviews
• Job offer
• Candidate accepts job offer, or remains on reserve list
EU Careers – the whole package
• An environment where you are encouraged to learn new
skills and languages:
– Strong focus on training and development
– Language training encouraged
(3rd language required for 1st promotion)
• Flexible working conditions:
– Flexitime, part-time, telework, parental leave, career breaks …
• A great package of benefits:
– Salary, allowances, pension, European Schools, childcare facilities
Other employment possibilities
• Temporary staff: temporary agents
• Contract staff: contract agents
• Traineeships (5 months)
• Seconded national experts (typically 1-2 years)
• Interim Staff (6 months, drawn from local
Commission Ambassadors: Training Seminar
More information, questions …