European Personnel Selection Office [EPSO]
The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) – Your First Stop
The EU institutions do not usually recruit to fill individual posts. Instead, they hold annual competitions (called ‘concours’) to identify panels of qualified candidates, who can then be recruited by the institutions as the need arises.
The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO), the recruitment service of the EU institutions and agencies, manages this process and is the place to start your search for an EU job.
The EPSO website contains information on all aspects of EU careers, including detailed profiles of available jobs and upcoming competitions. You can find mock tests for the positions you’re interested in, listen to serving EU officials describe their work and responsibilities, and learn how the recruitment process works in practice. This is also where you take your first step in applying for a specific post by creating or logging into your EPSO account.
What’s On Offer?
While EPSO runs many different recruitment competitions, the posts are usually divided into three key types:
- · AD Concours for General Administrators
- · AD Concours for Translators, Interpreters, Linguists, Lawyer-Linguists
- · AST Concours for General Assistants
The AD Concours for General Administrators, which typically opens in March, is EPSO’s main graduate recruitment competition.
At the time of application, candidates must hold – or expect to shortly receive – an honours degree from a third level institution. Candidates should also be proficient in at least two EU languages, one of which must be a language specified for that competition. There were five languages specified for the most recent AD5 competition – English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. For example a candidate can choose English and Irish as their two EU languages. Italian and Spanish may be replaced by other languages in future competitions depending on demand.
After applying online, candidates are called to sit computer based tests that are designed to evaluate their general cognitive abilities, abstract reasoning and situational judgment. These tests are undertaken in the candidates’ first languages (which can be any one of the EU’s 24 official languages, including Irish) and held in their home countries. The best performing candidates are then called to a second stage in Brussels - the so-called “assessment centre” - where they undertake a structured interview, group exercise and oral presentation. This second stage is conducted in candidates’ second language (which must be one of the specified languages for that competition). Successful candidates from this second stage are placed on panels and offered positions by one or other of the institutions as vacancies emerge.
The AD concours for interpreters, translators, linguists and lawyer-linguists are typically held in the autumn. The recruitment process is much the same as for the General Administrators except that in these cases candidates are required to sit an extra language test at the assessment centre to demonstrate competency in a minimum of three EU official languages.
The AST Concours, which usually opens in December, aims to recruit general assistants and secretaries to serve in key support roles within the institutions. These posts have a non-graduate profile, with the key qualification requirements being a secondary education and at least three years of professional experience, as well as competence in at least two EU languages.
Other Opportunities – Non Permanent Contracts
The Concours is the only process through which the EU institutions recruit permanent staff. However, the institutions regularly recruit non-permanent staff in the form of contract agents and temporary agents.
The European Commission is currently seeking applications for contract positions at a number of Directorate Generals and EU agencies. Candidates are being sought across a wide range of professional areas, including administration, audit, secretariat, economy, finance, ICT, languages, law, policy, program/project management and statistics. Candidates should apply by through EU CV Online.
The selection competitions for these posts are substantially shorter and less complicated than for permanent positions and the requirements – specifically in terms of languages – more limited. The competitions are generally run by the Institutions and Agencies themselves, rather than by EPSO. Candidates are therefore advised to regularly visit the websites of the Institutions and the EU Agencies if they are interested in such opportunities.
While non-permanent contracts are, of course, of limited duration, they are considered a great way to get a start at the Institutions. Many of those who are successful in the Concours each year have previously served in non-permanent posts, taking the opportunity, while there, to develop their language skills, EU knowledge and general competencies, and hence greatly boosting their prospects in the Concours.