Support & Training
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade arranges information and training sessions to help Irish candidates prepare ahead of the main EU Concours. These sessions are open to all Irish citizens who have registered for a specific competition, or who intend to do so, and are offered free of charge.
Participants will hear from previously successful Irish candidates and learn more about the application procedure and how to approach the different stages of the competition. To register for this event, please us our Contact Us form. Fill in your name, email address. Places will be limited and allocated on a first- come, first- served basis so be sure to apply early to avoid disappointment!
While every effort has been made to ensure the integrity and accuracy of all referenced material, candidates should be aware that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade can take no responsibility for the information provided by any external source, including those listed below. Nor should the listing of any text or firm be considered an endorsement of same.
Before you can apply for any position in the European institutions you should create an EPSO account via the EU Careers Website. You can do this at: https://epso.europa.eu/home_en. Remember, you can only have one EPSO account.
You will usually be asked to complete a questionnaire and attempt some sample tests before you begin an application process. This is a self-evaluation mechanism that EPSO uses so that prospective candidates can determine whether or not a career in the EU institutions is something that would suit them. *EPSO DOES NOT RECORD OR USE THE RESULTS OF THESE TESTS*
For certain, more specialised selection procedures, you will be required to answer some additional detailed questions about your qualifications and experience as part of the application form. This information will be used by the Selection Board as they decide which candidates best fit the needs of the Institutions and thus which candidates to invite to the Assessment centre.
Before starting with your application, you should make sure that all the details in your EPSO account are up to date.
When the application process for an EPSO competition opens, you should:
Remember that the application form of this selection procedure is split in 2 parts, each with a different deadline:
The First Stage – Computer Based Tests
The first stage of the concours is the computer based tests (CBTs for short). These cognitive reasoning exercises are also known as psychometric tests or aptitude tests and are used by EPSO as a filter to identify a manageable number of candidates for the next stages. These are general aptitude tests and do not require detailed specific knowledge of the EU.
These tests are conducted through a candidates “language 1” and take place in testing centres worldwide.
In order to succeed at the CBTs, and make it to a competition’s second stage, you need to score amongst the top percentile taking that test. While this might sound difficult, with some advanced planning and deliberate practice you can give yourself every chance of success.
The CBTs test a candidate’s verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning and are taken in the candidates’ listed first language, which can be any one of the EU’s 24 official languages (including Irish). In order to help you prepare for the CBTs, we have also compiled short guides to each of the test types, with hints and tips on how to prepare and useful links and references.
As these guides suggest, the best way to prepare for the CBTs is to familiarise yourself with the test style and format through deliberate practice. EPSO and the Public Appointments Service provide test material freely online, while material can also be purchased through various private companies, many of whom offer free samples. Additional sample questions and answers for the asbtract, numerical and verbal reasoning tests are also provided below.
Finally, there are many books available on how best to prepare for the competition process. The following texts are some of the best known:
The Second Stage - the E-tray Exercise
This stage takes place in testing centres throughout the EU member states and is conducted in a candidates “language 2”.
The e-tray stage is a computer-based test in which candidates are asked to answer a number of questions using the documentation provided in an e-mail inbox.
The Third Stage – Assessment Centre
A detailed official guide to the assessment centre is available. It consists of four key exercises, with some variation depending on the specific competition.
The languages used in the Assessment Centre are English, German and French and two other languages that will be announced following the application stage. Candidates will have identified one of the Assessment Centre languages as their second language (“language 2”) ahead of the Computer Based Tests.
Two types of competencies are tested for, general and specific, with eight key competency criteria:
Candidates must demonstrate each of the above in the course of the assessment centre exercises.
In preparing for the assessment centre, candidates may wish to consult some of the following resources: